Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in the Netherlands:
When I first came to Holland I did experience a lot of culture shock. It’s not as if the culture was hugely different (as it might have been if I’d move to Japan for example) but there were enough little surprises here and there that caught me off guard. In the beginning it was enough to cause me trouble to work out what was going on around me but slowly after time I started to settle in.
Try to remember that you are a guest in this country. People from other countries are always different than you are used to and the Dutch are no exception. Be kind, respectful and they will usually be the same.
I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced much culture shock. That is likely attributed to most of the population speaking English and generally possessing a friendly disposition. I don’t find the foundations of Dutch and American culture incredibly different, though I’ve found certain aspects of the culture amusing or perplexing.
Our children's international school was a great go-to source, hosting an orientation for parents as well as incoming students and holding info sessions throughout the year on various topics. I also did a lot of online research once I was here, so I've got a better sense of where to look for the next international move. Expat sites and blogs are great sources of info, and I've had several people planning to move to the Netherlands find my blog and contact me.
I had traveled in Europe and worked with the Dutch, so I thought I knew it all. In truth, I understood maybe 10% of what I needed to know. So I made a lot of early mistakes before finding out how things are done, from setting up business accounts to getting the internet connected. A local mentor or business partner would have helped. In hindsight, I also wish that I had gotten a bike sooner and made more of an effort to learn the language.
In the west of the country, especially Amsterdam and the Hague, there are large and active expat communities. There’s a smaller, but active, expat community here in Groningen as well. It’s easy to find and meet other expatriates.
There are a few things that I would change about my preparations, I would have to say calling the municipality and booking registration appointments in advance of getting on the boat would've been a good idea – but the information that lead me to this discovery was only discovered after we had already moved into our new house.
Be prepared for people to speak their mind in a blunt and to the straight-to-the-point way. Subjects that might be taboo at home are fair game here. It’s nothing to have a frank discussion about your weight in the shared kitchen at work, for example.
There were definitely things that needed getting used to- healthcare being one of them. My other experiences were extremely positive. One way my life differs from my life in Poland is that it is much more exciting here. There are so many things happening. I think living in the Netherlands has made me more creative and outgoing.
My life is not so different from what I was used to back home, except that it’s more relaxed. Of course I had trouble in the beginning finding products in the shops and finding my way around the neighborhood, and it was also somehow strange how individualistic people here are. But I picked up the basics of the language very fast and made an effort to talk to anyone I met and joined as many activities as I could, so this way I made the whole transition easier for myself.
Moving abroad was exciting and scary at the same time, just like any other major change in life. I thought I would adjust easily since I liked the Dutch culture, and indeed there wasn't much of a cultural shock. I enjoy discovering the differences with Italy and I am willing to adjust to them - I feel this will enrich me as a person and help me to become integrated.
Definitely I was not 100% prepared for all these challenges I had to face in a brand new country. I would do things differently if I could repeat my expat experience. Especially in a foreign country, it is important to take some time to decide and it is always good to inform yourself even better than you would in your home county.
I thought I’d done a decent job of learning basic Dutch before I arrived, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more. Definitely learn as much as you can before you arrive, it’ll help immensely! Also, make sure you have copies of your birth certificate and other important documents. It’s expensive if you have to obtain certified copies from the UK… I found out the hard way!