Dealing with debt, Part 3

Dealing with debt, Part 3

Families in debt lose sight of what they owe. A special bank would at least make that problem go away, writes Annemarie van Gaal, in her third article about getting your finances back on track.   In my last two columns I wrote about families in debt who, according to family finance institute Nibud, are costing society some €11bn a year. I’ve met some of these families. They are so...  More >

'I ride my bike everywhere'

‘How Dutch have I become? I ride my bike everywhere’ Sofia Saxlund, 24, is from Uruguay and works as a design intern. She lives in Zaandam and has been in the Netherlands since April. How did you end up in the Netherlands? We did a trip around Europe with many of my friends from Uruguay. We were 28 friends travelling together, taking up almost entire buses and train carriages. I knew right from the start I was going to stay here as soon as the trip was over. I wasn’t sure which city to choose, but when we arrived in Amsterdam I fell in love with it and I knew this was the one. I first spent a couple of months living at my aunt's place in Amsterdam. Then I moved a couple of times, always in Amsterdam. But not only are the rents in Amsterdam too high, it's also difficult to find a place where they let you use the address to register at the council. Luckily I met a lot of nice people here, they helped me finding a new home and many of them told me Zaandam was a cool place to start looking, not so far from Amsterdam and much cheaper....  More >

Concern for the patient is skin deep

Dutch health insurers are busy trying to convince us all to switch to their bigger and better policies, now we've reached the end-of-year changeover period. However, says editor Robin Pascoe, it all boils down to money, not the interests of the patient. This week I ended up visiting a dermatologist and was confronted by the effect of government efforts to rein in healthcare spending. I was told, bluntly, that I was not covered via my health insurance because the clinic had run out of cash to treat ZilverenKruis Achmea patients. I opted to pay the bill from my own pocket – after all, I have an €860 own risk to still use up this year. But the message was clear. If you are insured with any of the big health insurance companies, this clinic cannot treat you because the money insurance companies agreed to pay on your behalf has run out. The timing is opportune. You have probably noticed the flurry of health insurance advertising around at the moment. They are all out...  More >

Labour's integration policy backfires

Labour’s integration policy backfires The Dutch Labour party has just expelled two MPs of Turkish origin for not agreeing with the party line. But having antiquated ideas is a prerogative of living in a democracy, says former Amstedam University professor Meindert Fennema.   The Labour party wants to change tack completely. Today’s slogan is ‘bottom-up instead of top-down’. Labour administrators, councillors and MPs should spend at least a quarter of their time ‘among the people’ according to a report from a party  committee on November 13. The next day the Volkskrant reported that Labour had expelled two MPs from the parliamentary party who had been practicing what the Hamming committee preached for years. Tunahan Kuzu and Selcuk Özturk hadn’t been the most vocal MPs until then. What they were doing was formulating policies, and they were doing it by listening to people, their people, the people who had voted them in with 23,000 and 10,000 preferential votes respectively. They felt that social...  More >

11 Dutch phrases involving animals

11 Dutch phrases involving animals In both Dutch and English you can catch bulls by the horns and run around like headless chickens. Here is a list of 11 more popular Dutch phrases involving animals. Be poedelnaakt, or as naked as a poodle. Except the word nothing to do with poodles and comes from poedelen, or splashing about in the bath. Wash a pig. If someone says: Ik zal dat varkentje wel eens wassen they mean that they will tackle this job good and proper. Be as stoned as a shrimp. This entered the language thanks to comedian Kees van Kooten who had a hit with his carnival song parody Stoned als een garnaal. Listen to it here. Have your sheep on dry land. If you have your schaapjes op het droge you are rich. Be caught in dog’s weather or hondenweer. You wouldn’t send your dog out in it. Unless you give him a little raincoat. Take the hare’s path. Het hazenpad kiezen, or scarper Be as bald as nits. Slightly puzzling. Nits don’t commonly have hair but there is probably a connection between...  More >

Stress at work

Stress at work should be employers’ headache Why should workers come up with solutions for workplace stress-related problems? It’s up to the employers to act, and a time management course won’t do the trick, say psychology professors Michiel Kompier and Sabine Geurts Last week, home affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher proclaimed a workplace stress week, and not for nothing: stress at work is a wide-spread and growing phenomenon bringing a range of psychological and physical problems in its wake. More people need to take time off work because of illness. Some of the causes of workplace stress have to do with the changing nature and context of what we do. Because of ICT and automation, modern jobs are highly intensive and primarily done behind a computer. Relatively simple production work has been moved to low wage countries and the economy has become focused on knowledge and services. What we are left with are jobs that can be complex and emotionally draining. It could mean dealing with aggressive customers, patients or prisoners,...  More >

Shoppers: Pushy cashiers are a pain

Stop badgering shoppers at the till with sweets and biscuits and put some healthy treats on display, say behavioural scientists. Research shows that 6 out of 10 people don’t like the ‘pushy cashier’ phenomenon. Pushy cashiers try to sell you something as you are paying for your groceries and it’s usually something not particularly healthy, like a chocolate bar, or rather two chocolate bars for the price of one. Even if the cashier is not trying to lure you into buying something extra, the supermarket cash desk is usually surrounded by an artfully displayed array of snacks. One in five people say they regret having succumbed to temptation at one time or another. We, a number of behavioural scientists and the centre for nutrition Voedingscentrum, are urging shops and other food outlets to make it easier for consumers to make a healthy choice. Liquorice while you read More and more non-food shops now have an ample display of snacks, sweets and chocolate at the till. Petrol...  More >

10 must see IDFA documentaries

10 documentaries you must see at this year’s IDFA festival The IDFA documentary film festival takes place in Amsterdam up to November 30. More than 300 films are being screened during the 11 day event, which was first held in 1988. Here is the Parool's list of 10 documentaries you should not miss. 'Plaza man' (Director: Kasper Verkaik) Robert Groder turned 18 the day president Kennedy was shot. He has dedicated his life to finding out the ‘truth’ about what happened that day. His obsession - Groder paints a big X on the road at Dealey Plaza, Dallas every day – has taken a heavy toll on his personal happiness. 'Solo – Out of a dream' (Director: Jos de Putter) In 1994 Jos de Putter’s 'Solo – De wet van de favela' was an Idfa winner. It turned Leonardo, an eleven-year old football player from the favelas, into a star who played for Ajax and Feijenoord.  Twenty years later De Putter and Leonardo return to Rio: the confrontation with his past is not an easy one for the football player. 'Finding Fela' (Director: Alex...  More >

The Dom tower in Utrecht by drone

The Dom tower in Utrecht by drone Film makers Jelte Keur and Reinout van Schie say they were waiting 10 months for the perfect weather conditions to take this stunning footage of Utrecht’s Dom tower. The resulting film of the city's cathedral tower surrounded in mist was taken earlier in November using a drone. The Dom is the tallest church spire in the Netherlands at 112.5 metres and was built between 1321 and 1382. The cathedral itself was never completed and collapsed in 1674, leaving the tower as a separate structure.   More >

'The Scots and Dutch are pretty alike'

‘I think the Scots and the Dutch are pretty close to each other’ Charlie MacGregor, 38, is Scottish and came to the Netherlands 11 years ago. He is the founder and CEO of The Student Hotel group. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved from London to Amsterdam after coming here for lunch with my girlfriend. We both fell in love with the city within 20 minutes. Six weeks later we moved here together. I rented an amazing flat on the Singel from a local guy who had a really good network of friends (all Dutch) which I slid into and never looked back. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc - and why? I’m just me who lives here. I am very lucky that I have fitted into the Dutch scene very quickly. I don’t have many (if any) expat friends, they’re all Dutchies. It was harder the first few years than it is now. How long do you plan to stay? My plan was to stay two years then move onto Barcelona. I figured I may as well learn a bit of Dutch before I leave so I had my first Dutch lesson within...  More >

Delft sells science with sexist stereotype

TU Delft sells science with sexist stereotypes Is a sexist flash mob video the best way to encourage links between industry and universities? Delft University of Technology chemistry Phd researcher Aldo Brinkman doesn’t think so. Delft University of Technology has an official Facebook page and earlier this month it endorsed a video aimed at technical studies students. Not only was the video shot on campus but it was 'powered by the TU Delft'. Screaming blondes, a biker girl in lingerie and a fake Arab with a camel. Is this really the way we should be promoting ourselves? The two-minute video at first appears to be an amateur video of a flash mob. But in fact it is a small-minded white guy approach to humour promoted by a university that is struggling to get more women to attend. Sure, the acting is so-so and flash mobs are outdated and were popular years ago. That's okay. The real issues start with the questionable choice of a male hero. This is a university of technology we're talking about. It is a very real problem that...  More >