Monday 27 January 2020

Members of the international community answer 10 key questions about their lives in the Netherlands

‘I will keep the Dutch tradition of playing games with all the family’

‘I will keep the Dutch tradition of playing games with all the family’

Polish national Marysia Bialek came to the Netherlands as a teenager 15 years ago and is now a marketing and communications advisor. She describes herself as a European, feels at home in two cultures and would love to meet John de Mol and Neelie Kroes. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My mother’s second husband was Dutch and they decided to leave Poland so I didn’t have a choice. That was 15 years ago. I came to the... More >


‘The Kröller-Müller museum in Arnhem is a real gem’

‘The Kröller-Müller museum in Arnhem is a real gem’

American Robert Chesal (50) is a journalist, writer and university lecturer. Three decades ago he followed his heart to the Netherlands and never looked back. Now he lives with his wife and children in Zutphen, eats koolpot with passion, but still doesn’t feel 100% Dutch. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to Utrecht on an exchange programme in the mid-80s. Eight months later I returned to the US and met a Dutch girl who was on... More >


‘I think the spirit of engineering is ingrained in the Dutch psyche’

‘I think the spirit of engineering is ingrained in the Dutch psyche’

Finnish-Canadian Timo Mashiyi-Veikkola (47) came to the Netherlands with his South African husband Ossie four years ago. The couple have been running a pop-up restaurant – Bulelani BBQ – for the last 18 months and are now looking to crowdfund a permanent location in Amsterdam. A fan of Dutch design and Dutch haring, Timo feels at home and comfortable here. How did you end up in the Netherlands? In 2011 Ossie and I had just gotten married in South Africa.... More >


‘I’m a fair weather cyclist – if it’s raining we take the car’

‘I’m a fair weather cyclist – if it’s raining we take the car’

Australian Rebecca Overmars has been in the Netherlands for two years, has three children and runs her own maternity nurse practice. A fan of  flip-flops, she has learned to appreciate Dutch beaches, even in winter, and likes waving back when angry cyclists shout ‘hallo’. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband and I were both born in Australia, me into an Aussie-British family and him into an Aussie-Dutch family. In 2009 we left Australia to live in... More >


‘After 22 years here, I’m no longer as materialistic as I used to be’

‘After 22 years here, I’m no longer as materialistic as I used to be’

Londoner Billy Allwood is the founder of website The Hague Online and organiser of the Feel at Home in The Hague fair, which celebrates its 10th edition on Sunday. Posted here 22 years ago, Billy has now abandoned suits, would like to meet Frank Rijkaard and says the North Sea is too cold to swim in. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands in 1994 when the Brazilian mining company I worked for relocated... More >


‘Beware of speculaas spread. That stuff is addictive’

‘Beware of speculaas spread. That stuff is addictive’

Blogger and translator Olga Mecking, 33, is Polish and has lived in the Netherlands for going on six years. She would like to meet the king and queen, doesn’t cycle and has developed her own version of stamppot, using sweet potatoes and chorizo. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Actually, I didn’t plan on moving to the Netherlands. I thought I would move to Germany where my then-boyfriend, now-husband lived. But then we got engaged, I got pregnant... More >


‘I love being on time, I love structure and I love organisation’

‘I love being on time, I love structure and I love organisation’

Lidia Barro Kooger, 47,  has a Dutch mother and Spanish dad and has lived all over the world. Now settled in Overveen, she loves good Dutch organisation, misses the bright blue Spanish sky and says she does not know where her roots are. How did you end up in the Netherlands? When I was three years old I moved with my Spanish father and Dutch mother from Madrid to the Netherlands. My parents met each other in Spain and decided... More >


‘The very first Dutch word I think I ever learned was belasting’

‘The very first Dutch word I think I ever learned was belasting’

This year, it is 10 years since DutchNews.nl was launched. To kick off the celebrations, DutchNews.nl founder Robin Pascoe, who has lived in the Netherlands for over 30 years, answers our 10 questions. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I originally came here as au pair for an Anglo-Italian family way back in 1981. I hung around for a few years working in Stilett, the notorious t-shirt shop in the Damstraat. This was the time of squatters, punk... More >


‘In a weird way, this is the closest I’ve come to really feeling at home’

‘In a weird way, this is the closest I’ve come to really feeling at home’

American Sarah Bringhurst Familia, 35, has been in the Netherlands for just eight months but already feels like a local. She owns two bikes, loves the Dutch work-life balance, and says she and her family are in it for the long haul. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I’ve lived on five different continents during the past 15 years, so expatting is kind of a way of life for me. My husband and I both grew up American,... More >


‘I feel most Dutch when I check the special offers in the supermarket’

‘I feel most Dutch when I check the special offers in the supermarket’

Jordanian national Mai Hammad, 37, was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, raised in Jordan and met her Dutch husband in Malta. She loves poffertjes, would like to meet queen Máxima and even eats her chips with mayo. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband is Dutch, although he lived outside the Netherlands from the age of six. We met when we were both living in Malta. After getting married in Jordan, we were seeking somewhere more... More >


‘It’s hard to beat pottering about in a boat in Giethorn on a sunny day’

‘It’s hard to beat pottering about in a boat in Giethorn on a sunny day’

Mike Garrent, 51, is an astronomer and heads up the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (Astron). He’s been in the country for 19 years and has even taken up mudwalking but he still misses Scottish food. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved here from the University of Manchester (Jodrell Bank) to take up a job at JIVE (Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe) in Dwingeloo. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international,... More >


‘The Calvinist drive to downplay success is pervasive’

‘The Calvinist drive to downplay success is pervasive’

American psychologist and writer Doug Ota, 45, has lived in the Netherlands for 23 years. He loves running along the beach before dawn in winter and watching the sun come up, and would like to meet physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I followed my wife over for a year and that one year turned into 23!  Some societies have been described as ‘centripetal’, drawing one inwards, or ‘centrifugal’, propelling you outwards. Dutch society, at... More >


‘Holland is safe for women and children compared to India’

‘Holland is safe for women and children compared to India’

Process manager Deepti Varshney moved to the Netherlands from India in 2009 and is now a dual national. She loves olliebollen because they herald the start of the festive season and appreciates the fact the Dutch do not offer unasked-for advice. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband and I were eager to move to western or northern Europe. My husband got a job in the Netherlands and I followed him. That was seven years ago. How... More >


‘We walk hand in hand in this romantic, crazy, awesome city’

‘We walk hand in hand in this romantic, crazy, awesome city’

Vyjayanthi Iyer is from India and has been in the Netherlands for 10 years. She runs a Bollywood dance school, would like to meet Rutger Hauer and is glad Dutch companies are finally realising the importance of good customer service. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband came here for a project and fell in love with the beautiful city of Amsterdam. One fine day he called me and asked me to come and live with him... More >


‘I love amusement parks and Walibi is one of my favourites’

‘I love amusement parks and Walibi is one of my favourites’

Cuban national Claudia Moreira Calzadilla is 15 and has lived in the Netherlands for five years. She goes to a Dutch high school, has a part-time job in a hotel, and her parents say she thinks like a capitalist. How did you end up in the Netherlands? When I was five years old my mother moved to the Netherlands and started living with my stepfather. In Cuba, the process of moving to another country is quite difficult, so I wasn’t... More >


‘Here is now my home and I plan to stay for a long time to come’

‘Here is now my home and I plan to stay for a long time to come’

In two short years, Kenyan national Serah Karani Andriessen has developed a morning coffee habit and discovered that spekreepjes can add a touch of flavour to most foods. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met and married Peter (who is Dutch) in Kenya where we lived with our son, Narsh, for a few years before making the decision to relocate to the Netherlands. Peter then returned to the Netherlands and I stayed with Narsh in Kenya for... More >


‘I didn’t twig until I got here that the whole country is indeed flat’

‘I didn’t twig until I got here that the whole country is indeed flat’

South African Dominic Karatouliotis (24) came to the Netherlands for love just six months ago, but is already addicted to Hema’s smoked sausage. He sees himself as an expat, lovepat, immigrant and an international. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands to join my partner and build a new life with her. We met two years ago while on holiday in Thailand, and our relationship flourished long distance, thanks to social media and Skype.... More >


‘I’m Scottish, but when Holland play football I’m a Dutchman’

‘I’m Scottish, but when Holland play football I’m a Dutchman’

Sixteen years ago, Scotsman Jim Weir, headed to The Hague to consult on a painting project and is still here 14 years later. How did you end up in the Netherlands? By accident. I had just finished work in Germany and was on my way back to Scotland when my agent asked me to do a small job in Rotterdam. Being there, I was asked to solve a problem on a project in The Hague. I did not really fancy... More >


‘Here we can enjoy our lives together with no prejudice’

‘Here we can enjoy our lives together with no prejudice’

Costa Rican Javier Arias came to the Netherlands to study four years ago after winning a scholarship to Nyenrode Business Universiteit where he now works. He lives in Utrecht, cycles every day and has learned to wear brown shoes with a blue suit. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was always my ambition to pursue an MBA abroad. Being in Costa Rica, the logical choice is usually to study in the US. I was getting ready to... More >


‘The Dutch park next to you, even when the car park is empty’

‘The Dutch park next to you, even when the car park is empty’

Englishman Russell Broadbent, 51, moved to the Netherlands to look for work while competing on the professional golf circuit 23 years ago. Now settled in Haarlem, he runs a private gym and self-defence training business and thinks the Dutch have little spatial awareness. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I played golf on the Dutch professional golf circuit for 15 years. During this time I noticed that golf was growing in popularity, so I sent my cv to... More >