Monday, March 23, 2009

Bea Stanford in the Hot Seat - Interview With an Expat

Polish by origin, Bea Stanford believes in making things happen. Bea created the social online group Inside Twente and plays an active role in the expat community, both on and off line. Here's how she experiences life in the Netherlands.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands?
I have lived here for five years.

What brought you initially to the Netherlands?
Like many other women it was the love of my life that brought me here.

What is your profession?
I am a brand consultant. Throughout almost all of my professional life I have owned and run my own companies, so when I moved here, after checking a few options I decided to open Astanford, a branding solutions agency. I work mostly with expats and I often hire them on a freelance basis. You would not believe how many highly skilled people cannot find work when they move to the Netherlands. This is especially true, here in Twente.

Besides running Astanford, I am also the creator of Inside Twente. Inside Twente is a social network for expats and global minded people. Everybody is welcome to join, even if you do not live in Twente, because you never know what our next destination will be, Amsterdam, New York or Sydney. We want to hear your voice.

What is the main difference between your country of origin and the Netherlands?
There are many, but one in particular I found hard to accept is that it is so difficult for a woman to be accepted as an equal business partner.

What was the most surprising adjustment you needed to make when moving to the Netherlands?
In the beginning I did not like the way children become independent so early, but right now when I look at my 13 year old son who is growing into a confident young man, I am very happy to live here.

What would you miss most about the Netherlands if you were to leave tomorrow?
My friends. Since creating Inside Twente, I have made so many friends. Within the Inside Twente framework we organise many get-togethers and I would miss that very much!

What do you like least about the Netherlands?
The terribly poor customer service.

What is your favourite Dutch word?
Graag gedaan – “you are welcome” or “my pleasure” (after being thanked); literally: gladly done.

How would you describe the Dutch people?
Friendly & supportive if you let them help you. I have two business mentors and I need to say I would not have achieved all that I have without their advice and support. Thank you Willy and Arjan!

Do you have any blogs or websites that you find enjoyable about the Netherlands for people living here?
I love Inside Twente, not only because I created it, but because we have very active members who are so helpful and friendly.

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