Thomas is from neighbouring Germany and lives in The Hague. With more than nine years living in the Netherlands, you could say he is a veteran expatriate here. Despite his home land being a stone's throw away, he explains that there are notable differences between the Dutch and the Germans.
How long have you been living in the Netherlands?
Since March 2002.
What brought you initially to the Netherlands?
Work – but I fell in love to the country whilst here on several sailing trips.
What is your profession?
I work in law enforcement.
What is the main difference between your country of origin and the Netherlands?
Generally life seems to me more innovative here– on the other hand everything is more or less profit oriented.
What was the most surprising adjustment you needed to make when moving to the Netherlands?
Appointments!! For everything you need “een afspraak” but nobody takes it seriously - you make appointments with companies and they don't show up, or call afterwards to explain they couldn't make it! And the way contractors make up their prices for services (cowboys charging ridiculous prices).
What would you miss most about the Netherlands if you were to leave tomorrow?
Everything – I love this country! The German way of thinking has become too narrow for me – a bit like horses with blinkers over their eyes…
And of course the beautiful evenings at the beach, when the sun is going down…
What do you like least about the Netherlands?
Several things – but which shall I mention? It’s my home…OK, let’s be serious. I mainly hate the Dutch way of driving and the way they ignore the traffic rules; being very selfish and not caring about the interests of other people.
In general, I think Dutch people quite often mix up tolerance with ignorance – that’s a problem…
I don’t know, but I recognise that people are in general more friendly here than in Germany; e.g. when I’m walking with my dog, everybody is saying Hi, "dag" or whatever – and more open-minded than in other countries (I’m not only referring to Germany…)
What is your favourite Dutch word?
Lekker - it can be used for everything from food, to experiences or a person.
How would you describe the Dutch people?
Easy going and they keep discussing until they find a compromise while having a coffee (but at the same time: result oriented!)