'I like how the Dutch always sing goodbye'

‘I always laugh because of the way the Dutch sing their goodbyes’ Originally from Canada, Savannah Grace has set her sights on becoming the youngest woman to visit every country on the planet. At the age of just 26 she has already ticked 111 off the list and written three books cataloguing her travels. After falling in love with a Dutchman while travelling in Africa, Savannah now lives in the Netherlands where she continues to travel and share her experiences abroad through her writing. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was on a round-the-world trip with my family that was meant to last a year and turned into four. While in Africa we met my fiancé, who was using a truck to travel round the continent. We ended up spending eight months travelling round 36 African countries and fell in love. I went back to Canada but after four months I decided to come to the Netherlands where my partner lives because I felt if I didn't it would be something I would always regret. Seven and a half years later here we are, about to get married next week! How...  More >


Nyenrode launched business admin BSc

Future leaders look no further: Nyenrode launches business admin BSc If you think of Dutch universities, you probably think of massive campuses, packed lecture theatres and the endless debates about the use of English. But not all the country's educational establishments are like this. University colleges are on the up and now Nyenrode Business Universiteit has launched a new bachelor's degree in business administration. There can be few places more inspirational to study in the Netherlands than the Nyenrode campus, set in the grounds of a 17th century castle just a few minutes drive from Utrecht. And Nyenrode's focused programmes, small classes and truly international approach has proved a hit since the university was launched in 1946. For after focusing on top-rated master's degrees in a wide range of business-related subjects, Nyenrode has now launched its first bachelor's degree course - a three year programme dedicated to developing the best in business administration skills. The course started in August with 32 students from all over the...  More >


The big election issues: healthcare

The big election issues: healthcare needs a shake-up The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new government on March 15. Gordon Darroch is taking a close look at the five big issues dominating the campaign: healthcare, immigration, Europe, the elderly and housing. Part 1: healthcare According to the European Health Consumer Index, the Netherlands has had the best-run healthcare system in the world for the best part of a decade, ahead of Switzerland and Norway. So it might seem surprising that health is likely to be one of the most contentious issues in the election campaign. But as the EHCI acknowledges, the Dutch also have the highest per capita spending on health in Europe, and the spiralling cost of health insurance is a major concern for voters. A decade ago the Netherlands introduced competitive health insurance, replacing the universal ziekenfonds dating from the 1940s. As the scope of health cover increased with medical advances, administrators warned that the system was becoming unaffordable and producing long waiting...  More >


Celebrating photographer Ed van der Elsken

Photographer Ed van der Elsken celebrated in Amsterdam Dutch photographer and film-maker Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) is perhaps most famous for his images of Amsterdam dating from the end of World War II to the 1970s. Julia Corbett has been checking out a major exhibition of his work at the Stedelijk Museum which opens on Saturday. Ed van der Elsken was, says curator Hripsimé Visser a 'real Amsterdammer'. And capturing the best of Van der Elskens’ work in both film and photography, the Stedelijk Museum’s newest exhibition Camera in Love showcases the iconic Dutch artist through the decades. Visitors will be able to experience an extensive body of work which led van der Elsken to be remembered as one of the 20th century’s most important Dutch photographers. He first came to prominence with Love on the Left Bank, a photo novel produced in 1956 when he lived in Paris. Stories Van der Elsken travelled extensively and went on to produce over 20 photography books and dozens of films during his life. 'He was one of the...  More >


Expat life has made me a fickle friend

Expatriate life has made me a fickle friend There's something cruelly disposable about the expat friend and it is easy to become pragmatic about dealing with their comings and goings, says Deborah Nicholls-Lee. I have adopted a sort of no-strings-attached attitude when it comes to expat friendships; we can see each other but I can’t promise commitment. They are transient, itinerant types who will love you and leave you, so why invest in the relationship? And there’s always someone more interesting just getting off the plane. Cold nonchalance When a good friend recently told me that she was moving away, it was all I could do not to shrug my shoulders. You see, I’ve started to view my expat relationships a bit like an airport lounge. You might spend a little time with people there but essentially we’re all just passing through. I’m not heartless; I’m just pragmatic. In Amsterdam, where I live, nearly 8% of the population moved out of town in 2015 and around 60% of them were foreigners like me. That’s...  More >


Blog watching: six years of Amsterdam

Blog watching: Amsterdamian – six years of living in Amsterdam (and counting) Dana Marin is from Romania and has been writing about her life here since she arrived in the Netherlands. In this entry from her Amsterdamian blog, Dana writes about six years of living in the Dutch capital. It’s been six years since I left my home country, Romania, on a very early and foggy morning, with a big suitcase and a small cat, and a crazy heart mixed with joy, hope, and worry. It was a December day that happened to be my official moving day to the Netherlands, although my significant other had moved here a few months before and I had visited him a few times during that period, and all the papers I needed for my stay had been issued in November. Travelling with a cat was a stressful business but worrying about the cat, however, proved to be a welcome distraction from all the other thoughts I had in mind: leaving behind a quarter of my life, my family and friends, the start of a good career, a country whose language I knew and loved. All this to move to an almost unknown...  More >


How the Dutch electoral system works

Who can vote and for whom? How the Dutch electoral system works The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new lower house of parliament on March 15. Here are some key facts about how the Dutch political system works. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy and the king (or queen) is the official head of state. There are four layers of government in the Netherlands: local councils, provincial councils, the lower house of parliament or tweede kamer and the upper house of parliament or senate. The water boards are also directly elected as a sort of side step, as is the European parliament. There are 150 MPs in the lower house or parliament and they are elected every four years, or earlier if the government collapses (which happens quite often). Their job is to make new laws and keep an eye on what ministers are up to. The 75 members of the senate are elected every four years - out of step two years with the lower house - by members of the 12 provincial councils. The senate's job is to 'reflect' on the implications of new legislation....  More >


Sorting jihadists from asylum seekers

It is almost impossible to tell a jihadist from an asylum seeker It’s very difficult to tell a jihadi from a genuine asylum seeker and the government should acknowledge the fact, say criminologists Joris van Wijk and Maarten Bolhuis. After the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, the Dutch are also wondering whether the government is doing enough to identify jihadists among asylum seekers, especially at a time when the government inspectors have established that screening is inadequate. ‘We’ll pick out the terrorists at a later stage,’ the then justice minister Ard van der Steur told the Telegraaf in a reaction to the inspection report, which said checks on asylum seekers constituted the first of a number of steps. He might as well have told us not to lose any sleep over it. It was reassuring, but was it realistic? About a month ago we published a report called ‘Jihadisme en de vreemdelingenketen’ (Jihadism and the asylum chain partnership), written for the justice ministry. Asylum chain Its findings showed the...  More >


Toneelgroep Amsterdam is making waves

Catch top Dutch acting talent in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives Leading Dutch theatre group Toneelgroep Amsterdam is gathering up rave reviews in the English-speaking world of acting. 'I may not speak a word of Dutch but I know great acting when I see it,' wrote theatre critic Charles McNulty in the LA Times after catching one of Toneelgroep Amsterdam's performances during a foreign tour. 'But the overall scope of this wonderful project was impressive because of the acting quality of Toneelgroep Amsterdam. It made you want to go straight on to Amsterdam and catch the rest of their repertoire,' wrote The Independent. Now, non-Dutch speakers can enjoy the company's performances in Amsterdam, because the company provides surtitles in English at its Thursday performances. 'We want to welcome everybody who loves theatre, even if they don't understand Dutch,' the company says. The largest theatre group in the Netherlands is currently performing Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam, staring some of the Netherlands'...  More >


100 Years of De Stijl

100 Years of De Stijl: Mondriaan to Dutch Design In 2017, the Netherlands is celebrating the De Stijl, the pared-down artistic movement based around straight lines and primary colours. De Stijl artists turned their hands to painting and sculpture, architecture, industrial design, typography and even to literature and music. By Deborah Nicholls-Lee In a tree-lined residential street in the outskirts of Utrecht, a row of ordinary terraced houses is abruptly interrupted by an architectural anomaly. The Rietveld Schröder House, with its bold rectangular planes of black, white and primary colours, is a striking monument to the utopian Dutch movement De Stijl, founded by Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg in 1917. It is one of a collection of sites, exhibitions and events which make up a nationwide celebration of the genre’s centenary: 100 Years of De Stijl – Mondrian to Dutch Design. What is De Stijl? Also known as neoplasticism, the proponents of the De Stijl movement - mainly artists and architects - advocated pure abstraction...  More >


The main Dutch political parties

The election looms, so here are the main Dutch political parties The Netherlands has an ever-expanding range of political parties in parliament, due to the recent trend of dissidents breaking away after an intra-party row to form their own splinter group. There are also various flavours of Christianity to choose from. Here’s an alphabetical list of the 11 parties that won seats in parliament at the last election in September 2012, in alphabetical order. 50PLUS Campaign leader: Henk Krol Seats in parliament: 1 (originally two but the party split) Campaign slogan: Omdat ouderen het niet meer pikken (Because older people won't put up with it any more) Founded in 2009 as a pensioners' rights party – despite being named for the over-50s – 50PLUS is riding high in the polls and could win up to 10 seats according to current polls. The party wants the retirement age brought back to 65. Website CDA Campaign leader: Sybrand Buma Seats in parliament: 13 Campaign slogan: Voor een land dat we door willen geven (For a country we want to hand on) The...  More >


Erasmus scientist in genetics breakthrough

Erasmus scientist plays crucial role in genetics breakthrough A major development in the world of genetics has boosted hopes of better treatment for hereditary illnesses. By Moira Holden Researchers from a Dutch university have discovered vital components of genes which could lead to significant progress in the fight to eradicate genetic conditions. Scientists have attempted to crack these codes for the past 170 years, but now the breakthrough has been achieved. Tobias Knoch, head of biophysical genomics at Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, led the study into the structure of genomes, alongside German counterpart Malte Wachsmuth, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg. The 20-year-long research has now yielded results which fill in the missing parts of the genetic jigsaw. Advances ‘This is a big step forward,’ says Knoch. ‘With our discovery we can now decode every level on which genetic information is stored, and, if differences occur, to see what this might mean in the possibility of it leading to a disease....  More >


'Kindness makes you feel at home'

‘Love and kindness is what truly makes you feel at home’ For Indian national Sabyasachi Sengupta, Amsterdam’s culture diversity and welcoming attitude makes it a city where dreams can come true. Sabyasachi, 30, is a banker for ABN Amro during the week and works as a professional trainer and speaker at weekends. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Following my dreams brought me to the Netherlands. I came here in 2010 on a scholarship to study for a Masters in Business Economics at the University of Amsterdam. After I graduated, I got a job, started working, and now Amsterdam is home. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I will call myself dream-pat because in the six years I have lived in the Netherlands, I’ve been able to do everything I wanted to do. I’ve travelled to many countries, I bought my first house in Amsterdam and, most importantly, I’ve been able to pursue my passion of public speaking. The Dutch culture supports people in following what they truly wish to become. How...  More >


Welcoming internationals to The Hague

Welcoming internationals to The Hague – 10 years of FAHITH The Hague is the place to be during the first weekend of February, as the 10th edition of the Feel at Home in The Hague fair takes place - with the best ever line-up of cultural, culinary and community offerings. On Sunday 5 February 2017, The Feel at Home in The Hague Fair will be celebrating its 10th edition.  The fair will be officially opened by the Mayor of The Hague, Jozias van Aartsen, who will address a special welcome to the international community which plays an important role in the animation and identity of the region. More than 4,000 visitors attended the event in the Hague City Hall in 2016 and appreciated the unique ambiance created by the combination of 150 diverse exhibitors with a dynamic programme of activities and entertainment, workshops and seminars.   A meeting point for the whole community  No other expat event in the Netherlands engenders quite the same sense of community as the Hague Feel at Home Fair, where nearly a half of the stands are local...  More >


Hello Mr Trump, this is the Netherlands

TV show says ‘Hello Mr Trump, this is the Netherlands’ Dutch satirical television show Zondag met Lubach has made a short video introducing new US president Donald Trump to the Netherlands. The aim is to show Trump the best of the Netherlands in a way which will appeal to him, presenter Arjen Lubach says in his introduction.   More >


60% income tax would put Dutch top

Dutch would be world champions with a 60% income tax rate The proposals to raise taxes for companies and high earners which the left-wing parties have included in their election programmes are out of step with current trends and should be ditched, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The election date is drawing near and campaigns have kicked off. Important issues include health care, immigration, integration, security, jobs and pensions. The parties on the left of the spectrum are making efforts to enter higher taxes on the election agenda as well. SP, GroenLinks and Labour are all in favour of raising taxes for companies and high earners. They feel such a move would be fairer and promote equality. They also need the money to finance the items on their wish lists, such as more spending power for people on lower incomes, lower health care costs and measures to protect the environment. These lists constitute a political choice which we won’t go into now. We are limiting ourselves to the effects of the tax proposals...  More >


Welcome to Planet IFFR

What’s On: Rotterdam’s film festival welcomes you to Planet IFFR The annual Rotterdam film festival has been regaling cinephiles with films from all over the world since 1972. It’ll be back in action this winter with another treasure trove of cinematic wonders. Brandon Hartley takes a look at the fest along with some of this year’s highlights. Whether you enjoy Oscar contenders, bizarre comedies from Japan or innovative short films, there’s something for every taste at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Now in its 46th edition, the festival is a bit different than its contemporaries and it remains one of the most ambitious galas of its kind in the world. While IFFR offers dozens of traditional film screenings for the public, it also features showcases for experimental movies and events for filmmakers that encourage them to chat with attendees rather than get blinded by flashbulbs while they stroll down a red carpet. There’s certainly less of the glitz and glamour that can be found at Cannes. IFFR is more about celebrating...  More >


Seven key things about skating outdoors

Seven things you need to know about skating in the Netherlands A keen skater back home? Do not think the fact you can do a triple lutz or a double toe loop will be appreciated. The Dutch have been forced onto skates almost as soon as they can walk and they are into distance and speed, not kunstschaatsen. 1. Will it freeze? As soon as it starts to get cold - like now - the Netherlands is overtaken by ice fever. It starts with the television weather forecasters, but after a few days everyone is at it. How much did the ice grow last night ? Will it snow and spoil everything? After a few days of this, the question on everyone’s lip is ‘Will there be an Elfstedentocht (the 200 km 11 city ice marathon)?’. We've not gotten quite that far this year because everyone knows the thaw is about to set in. 2. Technique Without natural ice, skaters have to make do with artificial outdoor tracks which are usually open from October to mid-March and get very busy on sunny days. Rent skates and take lessons if you want to show off a perfect pootje over...  More >


How to go Dutch: High stakes, long waits

How to go Dutch: The waiting continues as the stakes are unexpectedly raised Five years ago Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands with her husband, an academic, for a short-term project. Now she’s single, has fallen in love with the country and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. Read the first, second and third parts of her series. Well, I did it. I have officially passed all five sections of my inburgeringsexamen. Four language sections (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and the infamous culture exam. Before anyone jumps in with: ‘Well, now you should speak Dutch!’ and immediately switches to some complicated narrative in their regional dialect, this exam does not prove I am fluent in Dutch. It proves I can pass a standardised exam about a basic level of Dutch. In my third instalment, I had already passed Reading and Listening. In the three months since I have added Writing, Speaking and Culture to the pass list. Exam results But first I had to wait. Because in the Year of Our Lord 2016 the Dutch authorities...  More >


Nice work if you can get it

Nice work if you can get it – no wonder so many 20-somethings still live at home Most people in their early 20s are not financially independent – which is hardly surprising when you consider how few of them have real jobs, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. A while ago Dutch newspaper Trouw published a report which found that only 25% of 20 to 25-year-olds in the Netherlands can support themselves financially nowadays, compared with 45% at the turn of the millennium. As a parent of two sons in that age group, I can only nod in agreement and mail the link to all the other parents I know who are bewailing the fact their offspring are still turning to the Bank of Mum and Dad. Independence You know that when your 23-year-old son rings on a Monday morning, he’s not after a jolly chat. The conversation always starts with 'Hello mum, how are you?'. To which my reply is inevitably 'How much?' It’s a scenario that has everyone with children in their 20s nodding and reminiscing about how gloriously independent we were in our day. But it would be...  More >