Monday, April 13, 2009

Chelsea in the Hot Seat - Interview With An Expat

Chelsea came to the Netherlands from the United States, and tells how she sees life in the Netherlands as a relative newcomer.

Have long have you been living in the Netherlands?
3 Months

What brought you initially to the Netherlands?
What actually led me to the Netherlands (over any other country) was a specific job but that's just because they accepted me first. I had been wanting to explore a bit and thought "hey, why not live and work as an au-pair for a year". The first family to show real interest in me were Dutch and now here I am!

What is your profession?
Right now I guess my profession is "au-pair" though I don't really consider that a profession. At home I am a full time (and fully paid! nanny as well as a student.

What is the main difference between your country of origin and the Netherlands? Well in my opinion, the size of the country. Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area and being used to being at least an 8 hour drive from any other country's border, it's weird to know that I could be in Belgium or Germany in just a couple hours. Or drive across this whole country is much less than a day.

What was the most surprising adjustment you needed to make when moving to the Netherlands?
The first week I was here it was VERY VERY cold. I had never experienced anything like it. I had traveled to snowy parts of the mid-west (USA) but never had to really LIVE in a climate this cold. It took some getting used too. I definitely learned to pile on the clothing. Also, it took me a while to get used to only hearing Dutch while I was out shopping. I can go a few days without hearing English...besides on TV. Dutch TV plays a LOT of American programs and movies! Not Dubbed :)
What would you miss most about the Netherlands if you were to leave tomorrow?

The normalcy of bike riding. I love that it's considered normal to do most tasks by bike. The bike lanes and crossing signals are great too. It's going to be very strange getting used to the American standards.

What do you like least about the Netherlands?
It could just be because I am living in a large city but I feel like people keep to themselves more than I am used to. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it. For example, while out shopping and running errands in the center, I could be there for a few hours and not have anyone talk to me at all.
What is your favourite Dutch word?
Bedankt. I very rarely use it but I think it sounds really funny. And lekker, that's a good word.

How would you describe the Dutch people?
Ok here I go!...Before I moved here I heard that the Dutch were very liberal and open minded people. Which I do still believe. But it's not that simple. In my experience the Dutch are liberal in their ways of thinking and theories on personal life (sexual orientation, drugs, prostitution etc.) but when it comes to every day life they seem to be a bit conservative...establishments are closed on Sundays, dinner is at exactly 6, children must eat with a knife and fork, conservative demeanor while out of the house. This was all new to me. I grew up in not only a very relaxed family setting but also a very relaxed community.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you find enjoyable about the Netherlands for people living here? Yes.

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