Monday, April 6, 2009

Jessica Buckley in the Hot Seat - Interview With an Expat

Jessica Buckley is a 24 year old Brit living in the Pijp area of Amsterdam. She is currently doing a Research Masters Degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and shares her views of life in the Netherlands:

How long have you been living in the Netherlands?
Three years

What brought you initially to the Netherlands?
Initially I went to university at the VU, but now I am coming to the end of a Research Master of Arts degree at the UvA.

What is your profession?
I work in management information, specifically for a company called Effectory. I work in Amsterdam on a part time basis for their UK subsidiary.

What is the main difference between your country of origin and the Netherlands?
Apart from the language, I think that the main difference is in what is considered to be polite behaviour. For instance, British language and culture operates around causing someone the least possible offence by finding alternative ways to phrase things so that your meaning is understood without hurting the person’s feelings. There are very subtle codes, meanings and practices. I have found that some Dutch people feel that this is in fact lying as they prefer a far more direct approach which they feel is fairer to that person in the long term, even though they may find it extremely upsetting to begin with.

Oh, and the three kisses, it is ok if you are familiar with this as a social greeting, but where I come from a handshake is quite enough thank you.

What was the most surprising adjustment you needed to make when moving to the Netherlands?
I first came here initially assuming that everyone would speak English. They do, but it doesn’t mean that they want to or have to. It was an adjustment to depend on someone else’s co-operation to be able to communicate. Quite a shock for a native English speaker!

What would you miss most about the Netherlands if you were to leave tomorrow?
My bike and my boyfriend, I miss them both when I am away.
What do you like least about the Netherlands?
Personal banking. I loathe the fact that my bank card is not Visa debit enabled which would allow me to use it for purchasing items over the internet or booking flights. Instead, the chip on the card is for this ridiculous chipknip system which is essentially a digital purse which constantly needs loading at a cash point. The next logical step would be to connect this chip directly to a bank account, making it much more user friendly. If you are already going to a cash point to load your chipknip, wouldn’t you just take out cash instead? I have seen maybe 5% of my acquaintance use within the time I have been here. Utterly frustrating seeing as Visa debit is the norm for almost every other European country.

What is your favourite Dutch word?

How would you describe the Dutch people?
Kind, generous, with an excellent sense of humour and national pride, but can be as blunt as an axe.

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