British national Kerrie Finch, 46, has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She might be partial to herring but she’s not into Dutch stereotypes and would never, ever call herself an expat.
How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I came for a three-month freelance contract in August 2000 to work with a PR company. I stayed in that role for one year, then one thing led to another, which led to another. I love travelling and do a lot for business – I’ve been in the US, France, Croatia, Latvia, the UK and Sweden already this year, with trips to Russia, Singapore and Italy in the pipeline – but Amsterdam is home.
How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why?
European first, British second, international third, expat never.
How long do you plan to stay and why?
Nothing is forever, but I’ve already been living in Amsterdam for 16 years and counting, so I won’t be moving on any time soon, I’m kind of settled! I run a reputation management company called FinchFactor, so that keeps me rooted in Amsterdam. We opened the office in 2009 and also have an office in London, with a newly opened LA office since 1 September. My dream would be to have homes in all three places.
Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
I speak Dutch but I’m not fluent. I learned by attending a lot of different classes over the years. At FinchFactor we’re 12 people strong in our Amsterdam office, across seven nationalities, so business language is English. We also work internationally, with clients based in Stockholm, LA, Dubai, Singapore, New York, and London, amongst other places. That also keeps business language to English.
What’s your favourite Dutch food and why?
I’m a big fan of herring with pickles and onion. Bread optional. I live in de Pijp near the Albert Cuypmarkt and I like visiting the herring stall on the market.
How Dutch have you become?
Are we talking cultural stereotypes? I don’t wear clogs, or live in a windmill, or sell tulip bulbs, or make cheese. I don’t eat hagelslag for breakfast, or drink milk with lunch, or eat stamppot every night for dinner. But then I don’t know anyone who does. I ride a bike, I’m proud of the city I live in, and I’m a pretty direct speaker. I have Dutch friends and watch Dutch TV and celebrate if the Netherlands wins gold at the Olympics. But you’ll never get me to love camping.
Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
Neelie Kroes – an inspiring woman who has worked hard to further entrepreneurship and start-up culture within the Netherlands. There need to be more role-models like her; I’d like to discuss how to make this happen.
Anton Corbijn – incredible photographer who has shot some of the most fascinating people in the world. Despite being a bit photo-phobic, I’d like him to take my portrait.
Hieronymus Bosch – Wouldn’t it be incredible to hear about the inspiration for his paintings, and to know who he modeled his most evil demons on?
What’s your top tourist tip?
Get in a boat and view the city from the canals. Any city built on water is special and Amsterdam is no exception.
Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
It’s not as ‘tolerant’ a country as the Dutch like to think it is.
If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
I’d like the bell ringers at Westerkerk to take special requests, so I can hear some old classics from my office window. The medley would have to include Frank Sinatra, Talking Heads, David Bowie and Beyonce. That would make my day.
Kerrie Finch is the founder of reputation management company FinchFactor. You can follow her on twitter via @kerriefinch and @finchfactor