Longer articles about living in the Netherlands, Dutch society, culture and travel plus third party content from our partners


Expat Fair & Feel Good Market get a new location in Eindhoven

Expat Fair & Feel Good Market get a new location in Eindhoven

Want to learn Dutch? Find a house? Experience Dutch culture, find a job, make connections, or solve immigration and tax issues? Or just want to have a fun day? You can do it all at the I am not a tourist Expat Fair & Feel Good Market in Eindhoven in June. This year makes it four in a row for the I am not a tourist Expat Fair Eindhoven, organised with the Holland Expat Center South and the event is a prime opportunity for the international community in the south of the Netherlands to get the low-down on life in the ‘low countries’. By the way, If you've been to the fair before, please note, this year it takes place in a bright new location in the Klokgebouw in the city centre. Pick up your free tickets here. On Sunday June 16, 50 specialist exhibitors and more than 1,500 internationals will come together to exchange information, find opportunities, orientation and business contacts. There will be workshops on all sorts of topics: think employment & entrepreneurship, banking, tax and insurance, housing and education. Opportunities for internationals in the Netherlands and in particular in the Eindhoven region will be highlighted, and experts will be on hand to give you one-to-one advice. Three themes The three themes at this year’s I am not a tourist Expat Fair Eindhoven are ‘Jobs for Expats’, ‘Houses for Expats’ and ‘Education for Expats’. The 'Jobs for Expats' section is for internationals who want to find a (new) job, build a professional network, continue their education, pursue their career or succeed as an entrepreneur. Visitors follow useful workshops and insightful presentations and meet exhibitors from various sectors including high tech, You  can also prepare ahead by taking a look at our Job Board for a selection of the jobs offered at the Expat Fair. The 'Houses for Expats' part of the fair offers all an expat need to know about housing in the Netherlands. After all for buying or renting a home, getting an understanding of tenants’ rights, mortgages and property law is a must. Ask the experts on hand for advice or find out more at specialist workshops. When it comes to 'Education for Expats', the Netherlands is committed to choice in Dutch education and there is a huge range of schools and universities in the Netherlands as well as numerous international schools, some of which are subsidised. The Dutch school system, however, is quite unique and the choice can be confusing. During the Expat Fair Eindhoven, expats can follow presentations to help them to understand the Netherlands education system and make the best choice for their child. Feel Good Market There is more. The Strijp-S area outside the fair itself is hosting the Feel Good Market Eindhoven - a free and fun event which brings locals and internationals together outside the Klokgebouw. You will find handmade, original and inspiring products on sale, delicious snacks, drinks, workshops and great live music. Shop, follow workshops, have a massage, get health advice, taste the regional and world food, enjoy the live music and relax on the terrace. And we know that if the children are occupied and having fun then the parents can relax too, so there are lots of fun activities for children. To take part in the Expat Fair & FeelGood Market Eindhoven and meet your fellow internationals in the south, order your free tickets now.   More >


Blowin’ in the wind: traditional windmills you can visit in the Netherlands

Blowin’ in the wind: traditional windmills you can visit in the Netherlands

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when most people think of the Netherlands? If this were a question on a game show, windmills would probably be the number one answer. If you’ve never experienced the joys of climbing to the top of one of these ubiquitous structures, or merely drinking a biertje beside one, here’s a few that you can visit (and, in some cases, even spend the night in).  Zaanse Schans - Zaandam Okay, let’s get the most obvious ones out of the way first. What’s it like to actually visit the country’s best known windmills? In a word: crowded, especially during the summer months. Visitors and residents alike are daunted by the mobs that pour out of tour buses like clockwork every day between April and October to clog up the small community’s picturesque lanes, museums, windmills and, yes, no less than six gift shops. If you’re unwilling to put up with conditions comparable to Disney World, plan your visit for the off-season. It’s a trek worth making at least once. Zaanse Schans’ museums will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about windmills. Just please be mindful of the locals who’d rather not have anymore people tromping across their yards in search of the perfect Instagram selfie. Kinderdijk - Molenwaard Kinderdijk is the *other* incredibly popular place to snap photos of windmills in the Netherlands. Many might go so far as to call it a tourist trap, and local cyclists have all but declared war on the thousands of visitors who head down there every year. If you go, there’s a good chance you will receive the bike bell dinging of a lifetime from one of them as you march along the village’s shared paths. That said, its 19 windmills are so photogenic and treasured they’ve been on the UNESCO World Heritage site list since 1997. They were originally constructed to help prevent flooding in the surrounding area. Some of them are private, but there are a few you can explore that feature informational displays about what it’s like to live and work in them. If you go, keep an eye out for the floating cradle, which serves as a monument to the Dutch legend that allegedly inspired ‘The Cat and the Cradle’.  De Valk - Leiden If you’d like to climb around in a windmill but not deal with crowds, with the possible exception of a local school group, head to Leiden to visit De Valk. The 29 metre tall mill replaced a smaller one in 1743, and it’s proudly overlooked the city ever since. De Valk was converted into a museum in 1966 and received an extensive restoration this past winter. You can visit the living spaces on the lower floors, which feature original furniture and decor, along with a viewing deck. De Valk has also been in regular operation since the early ‘00s and the sails can often be seen spinning when the weather’s behaving. Be sure to wear a sturdy pair of shoes if you’re determined to make it up each thin staircase (they’re more like ladders, really) that lead to the viewing deck. De Gooyer - Amsterdam Exploring windmills might not be your thing. If you’d rather merely gaze up at one while enjoying an adult beverage, look no further than De Gooyer. Also known as De Funenmolen, it’s Amsterdam’s tallest windmill. It’s also conveniently located beside a former bathhouse that’s currently home to a taproom operated by Brouwerij t’ IJ, a beloved local craft brewery. Contrary to popular belief, De Gooyer isn’t open to the public or owned by the brewery, although the windmill does appear in some of its promotional materials. Nevertheless, it’s great to look at while sitting on the terrace next door with an IPA and a wooden board layered thick with osseworst and cheese. De Arkduif - Bodegraven This 17th century windmill was once used to grind grain and also has ties to a craft brewery. It’s served as the home of Brouwerij de Molen since the mid ‘00s. The property was later expanded to include a taproom, a cafe, and a bottle shop. Tours are offered most Saturdays and you can visit both the windmill and the company’s new-ish brewhouse down the street. As for its name, which means ‘The Ark’s dove’ in English, that’s only been around since 1956. The windmill’s owner at the time held a contest and selected it from a list of suggestions. As the brewery’s website notes, much like the dove, it remains a ‘bringer of peace and happiness.’ Molen de Otter - Amsterdam This picturesque 17th century windmill is off the beaten path and usually isn’t open to the public, but it’s worth pausing to take a photo of it if you’re ever in the area. You can find it along the Kostverlorenvaart, and it’s the last of the 49 windmills that once populated the area in what is said to be the world's first industrial estate. De Otter is also the oldest paltrokmolen in the country. The name comes from the paltrok, an old-fashioned men’s jacket. Supposedly back in the day, people thought these windmills resembled a person wearing one. De Otter was restored in 1994 and its warehouse still sits beside it. The windmill is also operational but, sadly, newer buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood usually prevent it from catching enough wind for its sails to spin. Tours are offered on occasion, and you can find out more information about them by visiting De Otter’s Facebook page. Molen de Walvisch - Schiedam In the 18th century, Schiedam’s jenever industry was booming. It required new windmills to grind all the grain it needed to keep its distilleries running. There was just one problem: Schiedam wasn’t very breezy. The community eventually constructed 20 very tall windmills capable of catching the wind. Now only five of the originals remain, and Molen de Walvisch is the one that’s currently home to a museum all about the city’s windmills and still thriving distilleries. Along with touring the former living quarters, you can also view a 180 degree audiovisual projection on the first floor.  Molen de Adriaan - Haarlem This windmill sits along one of Haarlem’s most picturesque canals. It was built in the 1770s and was used to grind bark, tobacco, and other materials in the years that followed. In 1932, a devastating fire reduced it to little more than rubble and ash, but the locals started a fund-raising effort mere days later to get it rebuilt. The project eventually took 70 years to complete and the restored Molen de Adriaan opened its doors in 2002. It now houses a museum and the first floor is available to rent for various events. If you’ve been dreaming of getting hitched in a windmill, here’s your opportunity. De Noordmolen - Schiedam Schiedam is also home to De Noordmolen, the tallest traditional windmill in the world. At one time, it was a grain mill considered vital enough to warrant the installation of a diesel engine to keep it operating on days when there wasn’t enough wind. It was decommissioned in 1937 and much of it was deconstructed, leaving little more than a stumpy shell behind. Even worse, the Nazis used what remained as a watch tower during World War 2. Thankfully, it was restored to its former glory in the 1960s and 70s. Nowadays, De Noordmolen serves as a restaurant and bar. Molen Rijn en Lek - Wijk bij Duurstede You can bike right through the middle of this unusual windmill in the town of Wijk bij Duurstede. It was constructed over a town gate called the Leuterpoort in 1659 by a very determined gentleman named Anthony van Eyndhoven. He managed to overcome both the logistics of getting it built and the protests of his neighbours, who were convinced the smell of all the bark being processed in the mill would drive them crazy. He eventually bought their house to get rid of them. Molen Rijn en Lek was rescued from demolition in the 1920s by a local group committed to the preservation of old windmills. It’s now open to visitors on Sunday afternoons or by appointment. De Verrekijker - Bergharen Finally, here’s the first of two windmills you can rent if you’ve ever wanted to sleep and/or ‘Netflix and chill’ in one. De Verrekijker was built in 1904 and was converted into a holiday rental in the 1960s. It has six bedrooms and can accommodate 12 people. You may actually want to invite 11 of your closest friends along because the rates aren’t cheap. However, it’s just a short walk from the village of Bergharen and the surrounding region is great for biking and hiking. If it is too pricey, there’s also another windmill you can rent in Onderdendam. May 11 and 12 is National Windmill Day, when hundreds of mills will be open to the public nationwide. Find out more Further reading: 10 things you should know about Dutch windmills  More >


After a €30 rise in January, Dutch energy prices among highest in EU

After a €30 rise in January, Dutch energy prices among highest in EU

You will have noticed the sharp jump in your energy costs at the beginning this year - but even without the tax increase that helped push up bills, the cost of gas and electricity in the Netherlands is far above the EU average. Research by energy provider comparison website Energievergelijk.nl has shown that consumer prices for electricity and gas in the Netherlands are far above the average prices in the EU. The energy site used data from the Household Energy Price Index (HEPI) to study the different price of energy around the EU. The research found that in January 2019, Dutch electricity prices rose 15% in one fell swoop, while gas prices rose 12% - the second highest increase within the EU. The price of gas in the Netherlands is now among the highest in Europe - not because gas costs more but because of high energy taxes. 'Over 50 percent of the Dutch gas price consists of taxes. This is more than any other EU-country,' says Koen Kuijper of Energievergelijk. Want to save on your energy bill? Compare Dutch energy suppliers. The estimate gas price in the Netherlands is 76 cents per cubic meter (January, 2019). Sweden - where houses are build to much more energy efficient standards than the Netherlands - is the most expensive place to buy gas - a whopping €2.14 per cubic metre. Switzerland, Denmark and Italy all outstrip the Netherlands  and the EU average is just 61 cents per m3. And Dutch consumers are still worse off when compared with households in neighbouring countries, like Germany and Belgium, where gas costs 56 cents and 55 cents respectively. The average electricity price in the Netherlands is 23 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This is 28% above than the average in other EU countries and just three cents below Denmark and Germany, which are the most expensive in Europe. Ukraine, by the way, is by far the cheapest - there you will pay only four cents per kWh. Energy price fluctuation European energy prices are strongly dependent on supply and demand. If the fossil fuel prices go up, the energy tariffs will follow. On the other hand, when demand is low, the energy prices tend to go down. Furthermore, the weather and transportation costs play a major role. In Sweden for example, almost a third of the total costs originate from energy transportation and power grid management. In other countries, such as Denmark and Germany, energy prices consists of high taxes and supplemental fees to stimulate renewable energy. Consumers can save immediately on their energy costs by switching over to another energy supplier. The internet offers different energy comparison tools (in Dutch called: energievergelijker) that help you with this process. Many Dutch households keep the same energy contract for years and years. 'An utter waste of money,'Kuijper says. 'Research by the Dutch competition authority ACM shows many households can save up to almost €400 a year, just by switching their supplier.' When comparing prices online, definitely look at the cashback deal the supplier is offering. Whenever you choose a supplier with a cashback, you will receive cash in return at the end of your contract. Comparison tools also take into account your preferences regarding renewable energy. So you can choose a cheaper and greener provider at the same time. You can pick a supplier that offers electricity generated by wind turbine or solar panels, or all the different types of sustainable energy that there are.  More >


Blogwatching: When living in Amsterdam is the opposite of cool

Blogwatching: When living in Amsterdam is the opposite of cool

Ana V. Martins is a Portuguese actress turned content creative & social media wizard. Her blog Amsterdive is a project with both a personal accent and a cultural one which, she says, explores her own relationship with Amsterdam, and the Netherlands while focusing on arts and culture, creativity, sustainability and self-development. When, at the first Amsterdive meet-up, I got prompted to write about the downsides of living in Amsterdam, I thought it was an unusual request. My readers know all too well that this platform centres on the positive, on what’s to celebrate about the city. I’m the type who loves a good creative challenge so I did promise them that I would write my take on the pitfalls of living here. I have written about it once before. Twice, actually. The prompt made me realise that the regulars at this site want to see the entirety of the picture, not a sum of parts. I think that some aspects I’ve parodied will be very recognisable to most people, others not at all. Here is my perspective (subjective, personal and all that) on the city of muddy canals and mad bikers after having lived here for seven years. Here we go. Scene ONE – Winter’s a bitch A couple of days ago, I shared a picture on my Instagram stories of my morning face. With the gravity of the early hours of the day pulling down my facial features, I was basically a sloth. 'I never wake up fresh and full of energy', the caption read. An acquaintance suggested I increased the intake of raw fruits and vegetables in order to sort out the issue. The next day I got a text from a friend who’s living in the Caribbean. 'While I was living in Amsterdam I woke up like that every day. I felt drained and was struggling with daily headaches. I even went to the doctor and got my blood tested. Everything was fine. When we’re in The Netherlands, we get used to feeling like you do, but since I came here, ALL complaints were gone, just like that. Hey Ana, the sun is everything for us'. I knew what he meant by ‘us’. He meant ‘us’ Southern European, specifically ‘us’ Portuguese. I thought that I had learned to cope with a colder climate. But the greyness, people. Grey skies can kill. 'Am I depressed?' I wondered. A couple of days later a week of unusual February sun came, and I got magically cured. I was a positive person again who believes she’s blessed, and all that shit. I text back: 'I think you’re right, man. NEVER again am I spending one entire winter in The Netherlands.' Scene TWO – Crowdy af It’s Sunday evening. I’ve spent the day working (yes, I am one of those) and, for dinner, I just want to grab something easy and not overly expensive because it’s Sunday evening, folks, why would I spend €30 on a meal out. I want a burger, a wrap, a pita, well, whatever form of decadently stuffed bread. And I want to read my book somewhere calm, with a cup of tea on the side. I know, I know, it is not easy to find a relatively quiet place where to read a freeking book in the evenings. Most places are noisy and hasty, but I’m determined. Eventually, I have an idea that sounds brilliant: movie-theatres! That’s the type of mellow environment I am craving for. I live close to De Hallen which, as you guys might know, is a former tram depot that houses both a huge food hall and a movie theatre. De Hallen is the most crowdy place on earth but, again, it’s Sunday. Tomorrow people are working. I  am sure that I can get my fast food there and go read at the cafe that serves the cinema. As I enter the food hall, the annoyance takes over. There’s no seat to be found. On top of that, a lousy vegetarian burger seems to cost €15 now. Urgh. Oh wait, this is why I’ve sworn I was never going back to De Hallen after past visits. Why do I forget my promises?! Eventually, I find a veggie burger under €10, and a safe corner where I can devour it while people-watching (at least that). I Instagram-story my Sunday-drama and hurry to the cinema. Peace and quiet at last, and another promise that I am never going back to De Hallen which, I know all too well, I’ll be breaking next year. Scene THREE – Tourists. I mean, bikes versus tourists. Oh well, bikes versus the world. I breathe deep. I am not cycling the route Haarlemmerstraat – Central Station – Nieuwmarkt for the longest time. Today I have to, as I’m meeting friends somewhere in the East. I know how it goes already. On the Haarlemmerstraat I’ll feel like I’m about to have a stroke every two seconds. Whether it’s a scooter going a thousand miles an hour that honks right before me (it is on purpose, right?). Or the sudden stop of a delivery truck that blocks the already narrow street, causing bike traffic turmoil, with cyclists trying to overtake each other from the left and right sides of the monster. Then there will be two more of these monsters. And, out of the blue, an old lady with her walker-rollator trying to cross the road and who, thanks to a spectacular swerve, I manage not to kill. Or this crossroads where twenty cyclists face each other, and attempt at moving out of the standoff All. At. The. Same. Time. Special mention to the pizza boys on electric bikes,  never older than thirteen, riding as fast as the scooters do, equally life-threatening. By the time I get to the Prins Hendrikkade I’m almost vomiting my heart out. But the worse is yet to come: the tourists. There will always be one (or one hundred) confused tourist crossing the road without taking the slightest look around. And when you think you had seen it all, hey, there is always worse: taxi drivers. I’m pretty sure that those boxed humans intend to murder every two-wheeler they catch sight. When I try to cross the road in front of the Victoria Hotel the battle for survival is real. Bikes vs tourists vs scooters vs taxi drivers vs delivery trucks vs bike-taxis vs AH delivery bikes vs tourists on bikes. I used to work at the former ‘In de Olofspoort’ in the city centre (RIP to its soul) and had to follow this route every single day. It’s going to be two years that I have stopped. I do feel nostalgia for ‘In de Olofspoort’ at times but taking the decision not to work in the city centre has been the best move I have ever made for my mental health. Scene FOUR – Oh-My-God-Dutch-people-are-so-cold Every sentence that starts with 'Dutch people' makes me start shivering. It’s the people who are cold, the food that is bad, the language that is horrible, the canals that are dirty, the weather that is even worse. Some expats complain because nobody will speak Dutch to them so they won’t have the chance to practice the language (I understand, it’s disheartening), but many of them will complain about Dutch people speaking Dutch (!). 'I feel so left out at conversations in my office, it’s so difficult, Dutch people are so distressing, they are always speaking in Dutch.' One thing I run away from like the plague is the whining expat who has been living in Amsterdam on a high paying corporate job for ten years, doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t want to speak the language, and has a dislike for everything remotely related to Dutch culture (except for King’s Day; King’s Day is nice – oh, and tulip fields) and, despite being unhappy, doesn’t do anything about it other than complaining as if their life depended on it. This is also the same person who will leave for another high paying job somewhere else and rent their apartment to other fellow expats for triple the market price because, why not. Scene FIVE – Sorry, I don’t speak Expat I was dancing at this bar with some acquaintances at the end of a working day. At a certain point, a friend of a friend tries to engage in a conversation. Now, I’m usually welcoming to new people. However, the only thing that I could feel in that situation was pure dread. Because I could see it coming. I knew exactly how the interaction would develop. After seven years of every single convo starting like this, I can’t even. Where do you come from? Oh my god, Lisbon, Lisbon is my favorite city in the world, last year I was there on holiday, and the people, and the weather, and the yellow trams and the pasteis de nata, and everything is so cheap, it’s amazing. Why are you even here? What do you do for a living? For how long have you been living in Amsterdam? Do you like it? Where in the city do you live? Do you speak Dutch? Are you planning to stay? Do you miss 'home'? Do you go back often? I would go back all the time if I were you because pasteis de nata and the weather, and oh my god everything is so cheap, and by the way, Dutch people are so cold. So after he asked the first couple of questions I’ve interrupted him. Sorry man, don’t take this personally, but today I can’t. I’ve proceeded to explain why I wasn’t willing to tell my story for the zillionth time, after a full day of work, which very often included me having to tell my story to different internationals I didn’t know personally. I tried to do this in the friendliest and most summarised way that I could. At first he raised his eyebrow, but then he seemed to have understood my point. So we’ve shifted to discussing our drinks of choice. Then, our taste in music. We cracked a few jokes. And I had a sigh of relief. Because, at that point, whatever bullshit that came to mind was more interesting than having the same old expat Q:A, yet another time. It’s like, talk to me about the weather. Scene SIX – Public transportation is the wild wild west There I am, in front of tram 26 because, god knows why, my dentist is located at that remote site that goes by the name IJburg – a 12 minute-tram-ride. Once said tram arrives and doors open, it’s the wild wild west. No women, no men, indeed not children or teenagers: nobody will respect any line nor a basic rule of civility. Not even the elderly. It will be a mass of bodies crammed against each other to see who gets inside first. The appearance of an older person with a walking stick will make nobody have a surge of generosity, and apparently, no remorse will follow either because people remain motionless and still as statues. Giving up your seat in favour of an older person is something unheard of in and around Amsterdam. I can think of a couple more situations of this nature. The granny who tried to cut in line when waiting for our turn at the Stadsschouwburg’s cloakroom (and who looked at me in utter shock when I politely called out on her behaviour). The man who saw me about to park my bike on a free spot on the bike rack and, in spite of it, hurried to park theirs first. The people who were standing in line behind me at the supermarket and who run to a new cash register as it is opening regardless of me having been first in line, or irrespective of each other. The cyclists’ behaviour is the pinnacle of it all. And hey, I’m one of them now: one of the savages on two-wheels. I can’t possibly get used to the public transportation and queue madness though. A longer version of this post was first published on Amsterdive. Every month we feature a blog post from one of our favourite bloggers. Interested? See if your blog meets the criteria to be included on the site.  More >


Four months after her death, Adrienne Cullen’s struggle continues

Four months after her death, Adrienne Cullen’s struggle continues

After fighting the Dutch healthcare system for six years until she died on New Year’s Eve, Adrienne Cullen and her husband Peter Cluskey were totally at one about why so many bad things happen in hospitals in the Netherlands. It’s because, says Peter, the regulation of the hospitals is based on trust. Hospitals need strict regulation not because they are filled with people with malign intent towards patients – though such people do exist – but because they are enormous, hugely expensive, multi-disciplinary 'cities' where communication is haphazard at best and the idea of any one individual having an overview is nothing short of nonsense. Hospitals structured in this way are, of their nature, centralized, hierarchical, and therefore authoritarian, towards both patients and staff. Even very senior doctors – as Adrienne’s story shows – are expected to toe the line or remain silent. As for patients, their role is to stay meekly where they belong: in the waiting room. When things go wrong That’s not to be naïve. Of course, without organization nothing will work. However, the benefit of a 21st century culture of partnership between doctors and patients is that when things go wrong patients are less likely to feel aggrieved and sue, and hospitals are less likely to have their reputations dragged through the mud. Unfortunately, there was no such culture at UMC Utrecht. Its lack of humanity was quite shocking. Worse still, there was every sign that this was its well-practiced response. Adrienne was “set adrift” – the term used by legal expert, Prof. Prue Vines – the moment it realized what had happened. Contrary to everything you have ever seen in TV medical dramas, its answer to a woman in her 50s whose test results it had lost for two years, leaving her with terminal cancer, was: talk to us through your lawyers. So she did. Over the next six years, Adrienne fought for and won the largest settlement ever paid by a Dutch hospital, though small by UK or Irish standards; the first written apology by the CEO of a Dutch hospital to a patient it harmed; and an annual symposium on open disclosure named in her honour, the first held amid much controversy in April 2018. Gagging clauses She also lifted the lid on the use of gagging clauses in medical settlements – something that was still going on despite government disapproval. The last thing she did was to publish a terrifying account of what happened to her in a series of hospitals – UMC Utrecht, AMC in Amsterdam, and Bronovo Hospital in The Hague – over the past six years while she struggled desperately to keep herself alive. Her book, Deny, Dismiss, Dehumanise: What Happened When I Went to Hospital was launched in March and will be published in Dutch in the autumn. As Titia Ketelaar, Royal Correspondent of NRC, tweeted, it was 'a book launch without an author' and all the more poignant for it. The section of the book you are about to read is where Adrienne tells about the tensions in the run up to the first Adrienne Cullen Symposium in April 2018, when she and two of her doctors – by now her staunchest allies – stood together on the same podium and proceeded to criticize UMC Utrecht in the most uncompromising terms. It’s a timely portion to read because on Friday, May 10, the second Adrienne Cullen Lecture will be delivered at UMCU by Andrew Foster CBE, CEO of Wrighington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust in the UK, regarded as one of the most innovative managers in NHS history. The Trust has five separate sites and more than 4,500 staff and remarkably, especially in the current financial climate, all five are rated by the Care Quality Commission as Good or Outstanding. Apart from his successful management style, Foster’s 'quality champions' scheme has demonstrated that substantial measurable improvements in patient safety can be achieved at minimal cost. That’s why he was chosen by Adrienne before she died. 'I have just finished Adrienne’s book and I am in awe,' he told me. 'I’m just sorry we never had the opportunity to meet …' Deny, Dismiss, Dehumanise: The final chapter... December to April 2018 Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Meade The day after Christmas I stopped being able to eat. We thought it was the result of too much rich food. Then we thought it was a virus. By the end of January, I had lost six kilos. I was admitted to AvL on 1 February and they discovered that I had two tumours blocking my small bowel in two separate places. It looked at first as though surgery would not be an option. I was told they could put a tube directly into my stomach to nourish and hydrate me with a bag of food. I wasn’t gone on the idea and started to think about contacting the euthanasia team I had met in 2015. Then, with more diagnostic screening, the picture changed and surgery was an option after all. The new tumours – Tumour 7 and Tumour 8 – were relatively high in the abdomen, in the mesentery around my small bowel, and so outside the previously irradiated areas. There was about a 15 per cent chance that my bowel would leak after surgery. But an 85 per cent chance of success sounded better to me than being fed bags of white liquid through a tube in my stomach for what remained of my life. So off to the theatre we went. It was 8 February, 2018, Peter’s 60th birthday. His present was that the complex surgery by the irrepressible Dr Christianne Lok was a success. Tumour 7 and Tumour 8 were successfully removed from two separate places and everything was looking good. Recovery was slow though. I spent three weeks in hospital. Starting to eat again took time and patience, as did getting back my strength. And strength I surely needed. The First Annual Adrienne Cullen Lecture would take place at UMCU on Friday, 13 April, ironically, seven years to the day after I had undergone cryosurgery there and the ill-fated tissue sample had been sent to the lab and lost. I was weak, anaemic and barely able to walk. If I were going to stand in front of an auditorium full of people, I wanted to look strong. I needed more Spitting Mad Adrienne and less Patient Adrienne. I had nine weeks to get myself fit enough to deliver this desperately important lecture that had been promised and denied so many times since June 2016. The lead-up to the lecture was fraught. I was pushing hard for it to be advertised beyond the walls of UMCU, and the wider medical public was declaring its intention to attend. Suddenly, the 120-seat auditorium was not big enough and a 270-seat auditorium was arranged. I wanted maximum media coverage to make sure our story was heard by the widest possible audience; UMCU favoured inviting certain 'trusted media' only. I knew that was code for non-critical. Filming was not to be allowed. Reporters were told that 'Mrs Cullen is not available for interview'. The hospital suddenly became concerned that I was going to tell the details of the various iterations of the gagging clause. They were right. That’s exactly what I was planning to do. I’d said so from the start. I contacted the media and told them that I was, and always had been available. I spoke to NOS radio, NRC, Algemene Dagblad, RTL, RTV, Een Vandag, The Irish Times, and several others. I contacted investigative journalist, Ton van der Ham, from Zembla. I told him an agreement had been reached with NOS and RTL that allowed them to film some wide shots of the lecture theatre and a few minutes of my speech. After fifteen minutes, the cameras would have to leave the room. Ton said that arrangement would suit him too, and I asked him to come along and to bring a cameraman. The atmosphere before and during the lecture was tense and uneasy. Franx, Van der Vaart and I were, understandably, apprehensive. The organizers were anxious too. They didn’t quite know what was going to happen – and they didn’t trust me. Each of the main doors had a security man on it. Outside, security personnel watched who was coming and going. An Irish friend was stopped and questioned about who she was and asked for credentials before being allowed in. Another friend, who was taking notes while the lecture was underway, was questioned about what she was writing. The security guard tried to take her notebook away. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Van der Haam had arrived and had been refused entry. He was promised that I would give him an interview after the lecture, and he sat down near the entrance to wait. At the front of the auditorium, Hans van Delden, UMCU’s professor of medical ethics, who was chairing the lecture, was warning those in attendance not to film or record any part of the lecture or to post anything from it on social media. The hospital had refused to allow its own communications department to record it for teaching purposes. The reason for this was, I was told, that Professor Van der Vaart didn’t want to be filmed. Not so. Van der Vaart had been crystal clear in a meeting just before the lecture that he was in favour of it being filmed and used for training. In the front row of the auditorium, Margriet Schneider sat alongside Ronnie van Diemen, head of the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate (IGZ). Beside them sat Kevin Kelly, Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands, who had been a huge support to Peter and me since he arrived in The Hague in 2016. In the row behind sat UMCU’s head of legal affairs, Albert Vermaas, and other members of UMCU’s executive and supervisory boards. The rest of the audience consisted of division and department heads, senior medics from the Netherlands’ seven other university hospitals, patients, doctors, nurses and final-year medical students. Nothing like this lecture had ever taken place before in a Dutch hospital, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Nobody knew what to expect. Van der Vaart spoke first. Then I spoke. Then Arie Franx. We took it in turns to unfold the events of the past five years and tell of the unbearable consequences they had had for all three of us. Franx and Van der Vaart concentrated on their own shortcomings (too much so, in my view). I concentrated on the more serious shortcomings of UMCU as an institution and on how shamefully it had behaved towards Peter and me. The audience was appalled at the extent of UMCU’s failures. Someone gasped as I recounted my meeting with Jan Kimpen in 2015 when he had asked pointedly if I trusted him to consider my position and come back to me – and then never saw him or heard from him again. There were more gasps as I displayed the text of the gagging clause that prevented Peter and me from speaking about my treatment at UMCU, what had happened, or about the settlement agreement. There was audible amazement when I said that no inquiry had ever been carried out into what had gone wrong in my case and that I was probably going to die without knowing precisely what had happened, and with those responsible (apart from Van der Vaart) never being held to account. People were getting upset. They could see the human misery that had been caused solely in the interest of preserving the hospital’s reputation and the standing of its leaders. In the front row, Margriet Schneider listened. At the end of the lecture, she said nothing to explain her hospital’s role in the fiasco we had just revealed. She shook my hand, thanked me, took credit for organizing the lecture, and left the room. Outside, UMCU security guards had bundled Ton van der Ham into a room and called the police. He had, they said, been filming people, including patients, leaving the auditorium. Van der Ham said he had approached the first people he saw leaving the auditorium to ask if the lecture was finished. He was still waiting for his interview. His cameraman was sitting away from the auditorium doors, and the camera was turned off. The police came and Van der Ham, a journalist doing his job, was arrested and kept in custody for several hours. Of course, he was never charged with anything. There would be no interview with me that day. UMCU was no doubt glad when the lecture was over. They had, they felt, limited the damage to those who had attended on the day. The fact that there was no recording was a big plus for them. All they needed to do now was to keep their heads down and wait for it all to blow over. I had a different plan. The latest imaging showed that the cancer had spread to my lungs, my liver and my pancreas. My left ureter was partly blocked again and the mesentery around my small bowel from where Tumour 7 and Tumour 8 had been removed in February showed recurrence. Tumour 6 in my groin had also started to grow again and I had tumour nodes coming through my skin. I went on holiday. I spent a few days in a hotel by the sea in Ireland, finishing this book and planning my next move. Only Peter knew where I was. I wrote another email to Margriet Schneider and Jan-Willem Lammers and said it was my final request for an inquiry to be carried out into what happened in 2011. I told them I was tired of having only an anecdotal and incomplete version of events, where professors Franx and Van der Vaart believed that the changeover from paper to electronic files had been central, but Professor Jan Kimpen, CEO at the time, denied categorically that this had played any role at all. I told them it was unacceptable that I was floundering around still searching for answers. I pointed out that, only as a result of my persistence, UMCU now carried out independent investigations into serious-harm events because it now suddenly believed it was the right thing to do. So why was it still not the right thing to do in my case? I concluded by asking them if they were still unwilling to investigate, and, if so, I asked them to explain to me in writing why: I got my answer the next day. Lammers replied and appeared to be agreeing … with me: 'We also feel it is inappropriate that we did not do a thorough investigation at the time of discovery of this very serious incident, which is so harmful to you, your husband and your relatives. 'After the lecture I have had several discussions both within and outside the UMC Utrecht whether we should initiate an investigation several years after this has happened. Most opinions were against it, mainly because necessary steps have been taken to very much reduce the chance that such a mistake happens again. However, it is, as you clearly mention in your email, not correct not to do so.' I reread it several times, just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. UMCU was going to carry out an independent investigation into what happened to my results in 2011. I would, finally, be given answers. All I needed now was to stay alive long enough for the inquiry to conclude. ENDS Peter Cluskey is the husband of Adrienne Cullen. Deny, Dismiss, Dehumanise: What Happened When I Went to Hospital is available in the Netherlands at adriennecullen.com  More >


From bubbles to Bauhaus: 12 great things to do in May

From bubbles to Bauhaus: 12 great things to do in May

The first of the blockbuster Rembrandt shows closes this month, so head for the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam to catch up on his social network while you can. Elsewhere, there are several English language theatre shows to enjoy, as well as some classic design in Rotterdam. Come as you are Tiny waists and (hence) corsets are on show at the Amsterdam Museum where the 18th and 19th century costume collection is given an airing. What are these clothes telling us about the conventions of the time and their effects on the wearers? And are our modern-day equivalents equally restrictive and prescriptive in their own way? A number of designers have taken the costumes as an inspiration and created their own. Fashion Statements is on until September 9. Website Go tiling with the tots A bit of classy entertainment for the tots this May holiday can be had at the Meermanno Museum in The Hague. With (or without) the use of templates you and your child can create a tasteful Art Nouveau tile during a family workshop organised by the museum. It will make a good present for mother’s day (on the 12th in this country), the museum adds. May 2. Website  Celebrate Liberation Day There are Liberation Day festivals all over the country on May 5, with over 400 artists performing in 14 cities. That is too many to list here so here is a handy guide to all the festivities and activities on the day. Look at a World War II zoo During World War II, Amsterdam's Artis zoo harboured many people who were hiding from the German occupiers. At the same time going to the zoo was a popular outing for German soldiers. Artis is organising an hour long guided tour around both the people and the animals that inhabited the zoo at the time. Until May 5. Website Be a bubble head The English Theatre has a treat in store for audiences young and old at the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague. Louis Pearl, The Amazing Bubble Man, is forever blowing bubbles and not just any bubbles but ‘square bubbles, bubbles inside bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, giant bubbles, bubble volcanoes, tornadoes and trampolines and people inside bubbles’. Pearl likes to engage the audience so don’t be surprised if he turns you into a bubble head. He is accompanied on flute, voice, and accordion by musician Jetty Swart. May 10 and 11 (there are two shows on this day) Website Relive 2016 Theatre company Downstage Left presents ‘A 2016 Love Story’, a play by Irish playwright Denis Burke set in the year 2016 when multiple icons from the sixties kicked the bucket and Britain was convulsed and divided by the Brexit referendum. In the midst of these pivotal events a chance meeting between implacable enemies hints that love may conquer all after all. Clifford Studios, Amsterdam, May, 17, 18 and 19. Website Network with Rembrandt Rembrandt's Social Network  - wives, mentors, disgruntled and happy clients etc-  kicked off the Rembrandt year and is now the first to close. Catch it at the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam. Until May 19. Website Make a noise The Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam is presenting Michael Frayn’s acclaimed comedy NoisesOff. Prepare for a jolly evening of envious luvvies who fluff their lines and create general backstage mayhem as they put together a performance. May 24, 25, 30 and June 1. Website Feast your eyes Maria van Kesteren’s smooth wooden objects simply beg to be pawed and handled but unfortunately looking at them will have to do at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Van Kesteren, who is in her 80s and no longer practices, says she loves the smell and feel of wood but not its grain - which diverts attention away from the shapes. This is the reason she has painted the deceptively simple objects now on show in the exhibition Form Variations. Until August 18 Website Bag a Bauhaus tea towel The Boymans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam is celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus with an exhibition comprising a whopping 800 German and Dutch designs (until May 26). The centenary of the German design and architecture power house has spawned a number of exhibitions, among which the textiles of Gunta Stölzl in the Groninger Museum (until September 1) and more textiles in the Textielmuseum in Tilburg  (from May 25) If you hurry you can bag a Bauhaus tea towel in Tilburg. Ponder populism What is driving populism and how can it be addressed? Barry Eichengreen – a Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and author of The Populist Temptation, will attempt to answer that question by putting the phenomenon in its historic and economic context at the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam. May 27. Website Cop a Japanese cartoon What do old Japanese masters and modern Japanese manga artists have in common? Quite a lot according to Cool Japan, an exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam which shows how traditional visual tricks and techniques used by the masters of the woodcut and print have found their way into the wildly popular anime and manga iconography. Until September 1. Website  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Infected Tulip and Painted Zwerfkei Edition – Week 17

DutchNews podcast – The Infected Tulip and Painted Zwerfkei Edition – Week 17

This week on the podcast we try to piece together the debris after an explosive week for Forum voor Democratie, find out why so many MPs claim to live in Limburg and catch up with the campaign to ban a homophobic American Holocaust denier from Amsterdam. There's also news of the neck-and-neck Eredivisie title race and some mysterious vandalism on Texel. In our discussion we give you the lowdown on this year's King's Day festivities in Amersfoort. Ophef of the week: PVV's Dion Graus accused of using mother's Limburg home to claim travel allowance Earn yourself a free shout-out by backing the DutchNews podcast on Patreon here. Thanks to this week's new patrons Jacob Zwiers, William, Zoltán Peczöli and Kelly Merks. Contact Kelly at @flaneurie on Twitter if you'd like to spend a week in charge of the @WeAreXpats account. Top story Forum voor Democratie soap opera as Henk Otten claims 'character assassination' News Foreign minister under pressure to ban American hate preacher and Holocaust denier MPs call for fewer night flights or outright ban at Schiphol airport Vandals pour paint over ancient boulders on Texel Easter weekend brings traffic jams to Keukenhof and Kinderdijk Sport PSV cruise to win in Tilburg to stay neck-and-neck with Ajax in Eredivisie race Eredivisie matches postponed for Ajax's crucial Champions League tie Discussion: King's Day 2019 Guide to King's Day 2019 (Dutch) Easter Monday was the hottest on record but King's Day is set to be wet Information for King's Day visitors to Amersfoort (Dutch) Weeronline weather forecast for King's Day (Dutch) NS King's Day rail timetable Free bus travel in Utrecht province on King's Day (in de buurt, Dutch)  More >


From cupcakes to cash cows: An essential guide to surviving King’s Day

From cupcakes to cash cows: An essential guide to surviving King’s Day

If you are in the Netherlands at the moment, you cannot fail to have noticed it. Yes, King’s Day 2019 is about to hit and the orange tat is everywhere. Here at DutchNews.nl opinion about King’s Day is divided. Some of us have been collecting our clutter to sell for months, some of us have a 24-hour feest ahead of us and some of us are even leaving the country to get away from it all. All you need is a plan. Here’s an updated version of ours. 1. If you are a party animal, you need to know that the best parties all take place the night before King’s Day and run until breakfast. Here is a list of Amsterdam events for King's Night on Friday evening. If you do go out tonight, you will not be up and about before mid-afternoon and will miss almost the whole thing. By the way, Easter may have seen blazing temperatures but Saturday is set to be overcast with showers, and strong winds at times. Forget the orange bikini. It will be no warmer than 13 degrees. 2. If you are a bargain hunter, you need to get up early. If you are a real bargain hunter, you need to get out of the big cities and head for a small town where they won’t expect you to pay €15 for an old pair of shoes or tatty last-season skirt from Zara. The same applies if you hate crowds. Small towns are where the original spirit of King’s Day lives on – if you like silly games involving eating cake which has been tied to a piece of string with your hands behind your back, that is. This year the royals will be celebrating in Amersfoort so if you are after a glimpse of the real king, you know where to be. 3. Take a big bag for your purchases and take lots of coins. No one has 50 cents change to give you for that Beatles plate you just bargained down from €10 to €9.50. According to the ING, sellers expect to learn an average of €90... so that says something about the sales techniques. 4. Don’t buy too much – like that huge fire fighter’s coat and the books and the straw bag and the wine glasses and the hat stand and all the other things which seemed like such a good idea at the time. You’ll have to carry them around and then when you get home you will find nothing fits and the book is missing the final pages. However, you will at least have stock to sell next year. 5. If you have children, buy plastic dinosaurs now. Every child goes through the dinosaur phase and then sells them on again a couple of years later. Same goes for ski clothes, Donald Duck comics and cuddly toys. You will never find Lego on sale on King’s Day. 6. Do not buy dvds of television series and films you have always wanted to see because you will never watch them. 7. Do not overdo the orange unless you want to look like a tourist or a frat boy or girl. An orange hair decoration or a t-shirt with a jokey slogan is okay. But an orange wig, feather boa, crown, trousers and Aperol spritzer is just slightly over the top. 8. Do not feel guilty about not giving 50 cents to cute kids with violins who can’t play or not buying lurid cup cakes from kids whose mums can’t bake – even if they have turned into a soggy heap. These kids make a fortune. We know of children who earn hundreds of euros every year getting folk who had drunk just a little bit too much to try to drop a euro into a glass in a bucket of water. We also know of a very good baker who will be selling her wares on the Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam, if you are after a sugar rush! 9.  Do make sure you have befriended someone who lives in a good vrijmarkt spot, so you can drop by and sit down for a bit to watch the world go by – unless it is pouring with rain of course. 10. Do not feel obliged to have a good time because, yay fantastic, it’s King’s Day! Lots of people hate it. They really do. And you can always stay home and watch it all on the telly.  More >


April 30 is ahead: You’ve only got a few days left to file your tax return

April 30 is ahead: You’ve only got a few days left to file your tax return

You may be putting it off, but time is running out. You’ve got until April 30 to hand in your annual tax return - or get someone else to do it for you. Here’s round up of things to think about. 1. Do you need help? You can file your taxes on the Belastingdienst website using your personal DigiD number, and it is relatively straightforward if your financial situation is super simple. If you've switched jobs, bought a house or claimed lots of benefits, it might be a bit more complicated. You also need to have been registered in the Netherlands for a complete tax year - January 1 to December 31 to file online. If you have not been here throughout 2018, you will have to file your tax return manually, by filling in a 59-page document (the M form) which is only in Dutch. In this situation, we'd definitely recommend you get help from the likes of Blue Umbrella. 2. What happens if you get it wrong? You can make changes in an online filing, although it is not always easy. The tax office is pretty sympathetic to genuine mistakes as well. You can also ask a tax advisor to help you sort out the mess. 3 Do you have to file an income tax return at all? If you received an invitation from the Dutch tax office to file your income tax, you are required to comply, even if you had no income. The letters are typically sent in the month of February so if you've chucked in the recycling bin, you can always look it up in the Mijn belastingdienst section of the tax office website - if you have that all important DigiD of course. And who knows, perhaps you will be entitled to a refund. 4 What if you are a new arrival? Tax filing for the year you arrived in the Netherlands is different from filings for residents with a complete tax year. You become liable for tax the moment you arrive but you might find the tax office has a different date – such as the date you registered with your local council. The tax office should use the actual date you arrived, so if there is a discrepancy, let them know, via your tax advisor. Please note that as a newcomer, you cannot use the online DigiD tax filing system. If you do, you will end up filling out the wrong form, as the system is designed for permanent resident tax payers. A tax advisor can help you get it right first time. 5 The 30% ruling If you were recruited from outside the Netherlands and you meet the minimum taxable salary threshold of € 37,743 (2019), you might be eligible for the 30% ruling. This allows employers to pay staff 30% of their salary free of tax. The rules for benefiting from this tax break have become more complicated as of late, and a tax advisor can help you find out if you qualify. Find out more here 6 Worldwide income and double tax relief Residents of the Netherlands and non-residential tax payers should report their entire worldwide income in their income tax returns. This worldwide income may include revenue which the Dutch tax office is not entitled to tax because of bilateral tax treaties. To avoid a situation where you have to pay tax twice in both countries over the same source, the Netherlands grants a credit to compensate for the tax owed outside the Netherlands. This is commonly referred to as double tax relief. 7 Company cars (or bikes If you work for a company and they provide you with a car which you use privately as well as for business, you will have to pay tax. The total amount you will have to pay depends on the value of the car when it was new, including taxes, and varies depending on how energy efficient the vehicle is. Find out more. There are also, believe it or not, specific rules if your company has provided you with a bike. 8 Mortgage tax relief and other tax breaks The maximum amount mortgage holders can deduct from tax is gradually being reduced and last year the amount was cut to 50%. This means that if you are a high earner and pay 52% tax on some of your income, the mortgage tax relief break is only 50% – in other words, your mortgage will cost you a little more. You may also be entitled to tax relief on the cost of education and on some extra healthcare costs. You can find an overview of the changes made to tax law this year here. 9 Remember your Digid If you have been registered in the Netherlands for a full year, you can do your own income tax filing using your Digid, the personal identification number used for all contact with government departments. So it is no good trying to complete the form on April 30 and then discovering you don’t have the all important number, because it takes a few days to get one. Be prepared. 10 And if you miss the deadline? The Dutch tax year runs from January 1 to December 31. If the tax office has written to you asking you to file your tax return, it will give a deadline, which is usually May 1. You can ask for an extension and the tax office is fairly relaxed about providing one. Dial the toll free number 0800-0543 and ask. If you file your taxes through a tax adviser like Blue Umbrella they can request an extension (usually free of charge) for you. For more information contact Blue Umbrella at phone +31(0)204687560, e-mail info@blueumbrella.nl or website www.blueumbrella.nl  More >


It’s Dutch-American Friendship Day, but have you filed your taxes?

It’s Dutch-American Friendship Day, but have you filed your taxes?

Friday, April 19, is Dutch-American Friendship Day, the day on which the Netherlands and the US celebrate 227 years of diplomatic relations. But not all is easy for the US nationals who have made their home in the Low Countries - especially when it comes to taxes and a mysterious thing called FATCA. As friendly as relations are between the two countries, American citizens living in the Netherlands still have the unfriendly obligation of paying US taxes - which they should have done by last Monday. It's a requirement that many are unaware of, or have conveniently forgotten, and it applies equally to US citizens to have never lived in the country as to those who are living away for a few years. It all stems back to 1902, when an American named George Cook moved to Mexico. He set up a business. He married a Mexican woman. And 22 years later, the Internal Revenue Service of the United States demanded $1,193.38 for unpaid tax. Cook claimed that the US had no right to tax income he earned in another country. The Supreme Court disagreed. In 1924, the court ruled, in Cook v. Tait, that '...government by its very nature benefits the citizen and his property wherever found...' and ordered Cook to pay. No idea 'I had no idea I still needed to pay my taxes when I moved here,' said Michelle Rounds. (Rounds did not want us to use her real name for this story, due to her ongoing issues with the IRS.) Rounds hadn’t filed a US return for seven years while she was living in the Netherlands. She’s currently trying to get herself back in compliance. She isn’t the only one, according to Charles Rubenacker. He’s the founder of Rubenacker and Company, a consulting company that helps internationals settle in the Netherlands, including helping Americans with their taxes. The United States is one of only two countries in the world that imposes citizenship-based taxation. The other is Eritrea. Fortunately, most US citizens working in the Netherlands qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion, which reduces their taxable income. 'For many citizens, this brings their tax liability to zero,' says Rubenacker. Physical presence The maximum exclusion in 2019 is $105,900 (which doesn’t include some extras, like a house allowance) or around €93,000. However, citizens must demonstrate that they were a resident of another country or that they were not physically in the US for 330 days per year. For Americans who earn more than this amount, there is a tax treaty between the two countries which can allow US citizens to avoid paying tax in the US if their tax liability in the Netherlands exceeds that in the US. 'Considering the top rate in the Netherlands is 52%, while in the US it is 37%, Americans generally meet this requirement,' says Rubenacker. The foreign earned income exclusion and the taxation treaty generally only apply to wages, so income from investments, rental property or inheritance may be taxed differently. Ignorance Regardless, Americans must file a tax return every year, even if they are under the foreign earned income exclusion. 'Ignorance is not an excuse,' says Rubenacker. Last month the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, took questions during a meeting for US citizens. During the forty-five-minute question session, most of the questions were related to tax issues. FATCA Others, however, related to FATCA - Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act - a piece of US legislation, which ostensibly aimed to track the assets of non-citizens living in the US, applies to US citizens living abroad as well. FACTA requires all US citizens to supply the government with information about any assets they hold abroad. This includes bank accounts, houses and more. Further, it requires non-US financial institutions with American clients to furnish the IRS with information about those holdings. 'Honestly, I’m considering giving up my citizenship,' said Tim Jenkins, who also did not want to use his real name. Time Magazine found US citizens giving up their citizenship increased sevenfold after the legislation was passed. Some Dutch banks will not open accounts or give mortgages to US citizens as a result of the onerous of reporting requirements and high penalties that FATCA brings. Jenkins says that FATCA has made it more difficult or even impossible for him to open a bank account in the EU. 'I couldn’t find a bank that would do it when we were living in Switzerland,' he said. He and his Austrian wife moved to the Netherlands two years ago from Geneva. Since FATCA applies to all US citizens, that includes anyone who was born in the US, even to foreign parents, even if they have never returned to the country since birth. 'Many people are confused by it,' admits Heather Van de Velde, the IRS attache at the US consulate.  More >


Debunking seven myths about recruitment agencies in the Netherlands

Debunking seven myths about recruitment agencies in the Netherlands

The Dutch unemployment rate may be at a record low and companies in some sectors are crying out for good staff, so does it still makes sense to use a recruitment agency to make the most of your chances on the career ladder? People have a lot of misconceptions about recruiters and the recruitment industry. Anastasia and Ljiljana, marketing specialists at Adams Multilingual Recruitment, a leading recruitment agency for international talent, help debunk the biggest myths about employment agencies in the Netherlands. Myth No1: As a job seeker I need to pay for the service Many job seekers think they need to pay a certain fee for recruitment services, but that could not be further from the truth. The service is free of charge for the candidates. Myth No2: Recruitment agencies only offer temporary jobs This is not always the case. Many agencies have positions that involve a direct contract with a company. Recruitment consultants have established relationships with hiring managers from many different companies. By choosing to work with a recruitment agency you can actually get ahead of other applicants and increase the chances of your CV being the first one to be reviewed. Myth No3: The agency sends your CV to companies but will not help you with the rest of the process Consultants will often guide you through the entire recruitment process, from the intake interview to the salary negotiation and contract signing. They will help you prepare for the interview or make suggestions about your CV, so that you can adjust it for the specific role you are interested in. In the event that you are in a recruitment process but the company you have applied to decides that it is not the right match, the recruitment consultant will explain clearly why the client made their decision. This should help you in your next application. Myth No4: Once I get a job, I’ll never hear from the agency again Recruitment consultants develop long relationship with their candidates and often help them more than once in their careers. They will not act as your personal coaches, but can definitely help you to manage your career and change jobs more easily. Myth No5: All companies advertise their jobs online so I can simply apply directly Recruiters maintain close contact with their clients. They know when new jobs are coming up and they can help you ‘jump the queue’ because they have access to jobs which are not yet advertised. Additionally, recruitment agencies use specialised software to store all applications. You might not get the job the first job you apply for, but your details and CV remain in the database which is always the first port of call for the recruiters when new jobs come in. Myth No6: My private data will be sent out to companies without my consent Privacy is, of course, a key issue. Adams Multilingual Recruitment never sends CVs to clients without your prior approval. Moreover, when Adams introduces you to a hiring company, they will not include any personal information about you, in order to eliminate bias and discrimination. Only when you are further along the recruitment process, a client might request more details if they are interested in inviting you for an interview. Myth No7: It takes more time to find a job through a recruitment agency The length of a hiring process depends very much on the nature of the job and the hiring company. Customer service professionals are really in demand, so you can expect a fast answer in that field. When it comes to Finance or HR roles for example, clients like to take their time to make sure they find the right person with the required skillset. Sometimes companies decide to change their requirements or they put a job ‘on hold’. This is something the recruitment agency cannot control. Nevertheless, you will be informed about this and receive the necessary advice on your next steps. What makes Adams Multilingual Recruitment different? Adams has a truly international team - 18 different nationalities from all over the world including the UK, Italy, Brazil, India, Greece, Romania…the list goes on. All Adams recruitment consultants have gone through the process of finding a job abroad and they all know about the complications and the questions that might arise along the way. ‘We help our international candidates because we truly understand their situation and know what it is like for them. We are happy in our jobs and our careers, and that is just what we want for them.’ Visit the website to find out more about how Adams Multilingual Recruitment can help you along your chosen career path.  More >


Gedogen, polderen, osseworst? 10 Dutch things to get your head around

Gedogen, polderen, osseworst? 10 Dutch things to get your head around

There are some things about the Netherlands which can be impossible to get your head around - partly because every Dutch person will assume you know what they are talking about. Here's a mix of concepts, events and physical things that everyone needs get to grips with. Polderen Polder is the Dutch word for reclaimed land and is now used as a verb to describe the very Dutch process of working together to reach consensus on some issue or another. This comes from the idea that everyone was forced to work together to protect the country from the sea. The polder, therefore, has come to mean the tripartite discussions which take place between unions, employers and politicians as they attempt to tackle some particularly thorny issue like pension reform. So when you see a Dutch news headline which states 'klimaatconflict in de polder', it does not mean that there is a conflict about the climate on reclaimed land, but that no-one agrees what to do about climate change. Koopkrachtplaatjes Everyone's obsession at budget time and indeed every time taxes go up or down, koopkrachtplaatjes are calculations of what that will mean for the man in the street's spending power. Of course there is no standard man in the street, so the government think-tanks which do the sums come up with a huge range of households: single person, couple,  couple with one child and one bread winner and an average salary, couple with two children and two breadwinners, one of whom earns €60,000 a year and one €45,000, couple with ... the combinations are endless and so are the debates about how inaccurate koopkrachtplaatjes always turn out to be. Boter Boter - butter - is a minefield. Boter tends to refer to margarine, halverine, butter... any yellowish spread to put on your bread so the filling won't soak in. If you ask for butter on your sandwich, the shop assistant will spread margarine from an enormous tub on one piece of bread only. Roomboter - literally cream butter - tends to mean the real thing. The Passion The Passion is a yearly television musical spectacle which takes place at Easter and involves a line-up of Dutch celebrities enacting the final hours of Jesus up to and beyond crucifixion. During the broadcast, a group of people take it in turns to carry a massive illuminated white cross to the stage on the main square where the show takes place. The event, which is now in its eighth year, is  performed live in a town or city on the Thursday before Good Friday and attracts enormous audiences. The music is usually contemporary Dutch songs from the likes of Marco Borsato, BLØF and Guus Meeuwis The event is not without its critics who say that not enough attention is paid to Jesus rising from the dead, that the use of contemporary music is inappropriate and that the lead performers are often not religious. For language purists, for some reason the event is always known as The Passion, rather than De Passie. Andre Hazes André Hazes was not the first to sing what the Dutch call levensliederen (songs about real life), but he was the first to bring this genre into the modern era and if anything gets the Dutch waving their arms in the air and singing along with great emotion, it is a quick burst of Zij gelooft in mij or Bloed zweet en tranen. Hazes was a man crippled by insecurity, a prodigious drinker of beer, a negligent father to the children from his earlier marriages and a less than attentive husband. He died in 2004 but his legend lives on. Two of his children now perform his hits and they are joined by a host of Dutch stars in the Ziggo Dome for a string of sell-out Holland Zingt Hazes concerts every year. Elfstedentocht The Elfstedentocht - or 11 city skating race - is fast developing mythical status as the weather gets warmer and the prospect of skating over 200 kilometres of frozen Dutch ditches becomes ever more distant. The race was last held in 1997 but every year, if the temperature dips below freezing for a few days, people will start talking about de-greasing their skates and getting ready to skate on open ice. If the cold snap lasts a little longer, experts are brought in to give their view on whether the race will take place and to review past glories. Then, with just a few days to go, when the ice is almost thick enough, the weather moves on and mass depression sets in. The tension surrounding 'will there be one or not' has spawned the legendary Frisian catch phrase  Het giet oan - it's on. Osseworst There are some Dutch foodstuffs out there that take some getting use too - think curly kale with mashed potato or raw salted herring. But Osseworst is one of the most bizarre. Osseworst is a raw beef sausage - yes, you read it right - which dates back to the 17th century - although the present day version neither contains the spices of the orginal nor is it aged or smoked. You will usually come across it served in slices with mustard or pickles at borrels. Top 2000 The Top 2000 is said to be the Netherlands’ most popular radio event of the year. The list is made up of the favourite songs of listeners – 10 million of them, according to broadcaster Radio 2 - and the number one spot is almost always held by Queen with Bohemian Rhapsody. The Top 2000 is broadcast from December 25 to December 31 and in recent years has faced competition from the Top 4000, which is, conveniently, broadcast from December 6 to 24, and is, true to form, always crowned by Queen. Vierdaagse You may find your children's school is organising an 'avondvierdaagse' and you are expected to spend every evening for four days walking around your neighbourhood with a lot of other parents. Or, if you live in Nijmegen, you may notice that your city is taken over by thousands of people in walking boots for a few days every year. The first Vierdaagse - or four day march - was held in 1909 as a way of keeping the army fit after the introduction of motor vehicles. Now it is largely civilian operation, although soldiers still take part, and involves walking 30, 40 or 50 kilometres a day over a four-day period. The biggest of these marches takes place in Nijmegen and attracts over 40,000 walkers from all over the world every July. The Vierdaagse is an extremely Dutch institution and expect raised eyebrows if you do not show willingness to join in at least once. Gedogen Gedogen roughly translates as 'turning a blind eye' and is the classic Dutch way of dealing with controversial subjects or minor infringements of the law. Dutch soft drugs policy which allows you to buy small amounts of marijuana in a council-licenced cafe - even though the drug itself is illegal - is based on gedogen. When Geert Wilders was an unofficial partner to a minority government, he was said to be turning a blind eye to the cabinet - propping it up without actually supporting it. Once you get the hang of it, gedogen is a remarkably useful concept. Other concepts and things bugging you or that you really don't understand? Email editor@dutchnews.nl and we'll see if we can come up with some answers.  More >


The journey starts and ends here: why expats are buying in Eindhoven

The journey starts and ends here: why expats are buying in Eindhoven

It has world-leading tech firms and start-ups, an innovative university of technology and a bustling, well-connected centre – and experts believe that buying a house in Eindhoven could start your vibrant new life in the Netherlands. ‘It is expected that in three years, one third of the population in Eindhoven will be foreign – students, seasonal workers and expats,’ says Roy Schreurs, Mortgage Consultant at Expat Mortgages in the region. ‘It is a modern place, very vibrant, with plenty to do, lots of young people and start-up companies, so it attracts people from all over the world. They even call it the “silicon valley of Europe!”’ Such is the demand that Expat Mortgages opened an office in Eindhoven in 2017, covering the Noord Brabant town and the south of the Netherlands, and has already helped almost 60 people with the door keys to their new home. Rich life Schreurs, who lives in nearby Roermond, says the location unlocks a rich life with the help of its excellent transport links and close proximity to other attractive locations in the Netherlands and rest of Europe. ‘There’s a lot of green around Eindhoven – you can be in a forest within 20 minutes, and the city also has a lot of parks,’ he adds. ‘You’re near to Belgium and Germany, and you can also be in Maastricht or Amsterdam within one hour. Eindhoven is really a good hub to start your excursions.’ This area of strong economic growth is home to massive companies such as Philips and ASML, the Brainport ‘smart district’ to test technology and community initiatives, plus wild and wonderful experiments like the glow-in-the-dark Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path or connected lampposts to keep an eye on revels on the central nightlife street of Stratumseind. Its popularity is reflected in rising house prices, although these have grown by less than the country average of 10% last year: still, €300,000 will buy you a family home. ‘In the bidding process in Amsterdam, which is really overheated at the moment, you could go 30% over the asking price and in Eindhoven it would be, say, 5%,’ says Schreurs. ‘Now 70% of all properties in Eindhoven will go above the asking price, and there are even complete suburbs which consist largely of expats, like Meerhoven.’ Villages Olivia van den Broek-Neri, the project coordinator for communications and events at the Holland Expat Center South, has noticed a rise in the number of people settling down in the region. ‘A lot of people are choosing to live in Eindhoven for longer, for example, PhD students settle down and get a job after they’ve finished their research,’ she says. ‘Meerhoven is one place where homes sell very quickly and has a lot of expats. But I’d recommend people get on their bikes and look at other places too. Look north as well as south and check out the villages.’ Chris van Maasdijk, one of the founders of Expat Mortgages, recommends checking out nearby towns like Son en Breugel, Best, Nuenen and Helmond. ‘Look at places like the suburb of Veldhoven and the village of Waalre,’ he adds. ‘Knowing the best places to look requires research, so it is always good to talk to experts on the ground.’ Schools and airport An advantage of Eindhoven is that there’s plenty of choice to suit many types of buyer, according to estate agent Anita Fiers, owner of Pit Makelaars. ‘Depending on their culture, expats might want a large kitchen if cooking is important for them, and they also want a good-sized guest room and second bathroom for visitors who might come over for long periods of time,’ she says. ‘Areas around the international school are very appealing, and there are also other schools that speak English 50% of the time and Dutch the other half. ‘Accessibility is also important, and Eindhoven airport means that a woman might fly to Sweden for three days a week while her partner is based in the Netherlands.’ She adds that an expert can help you find the right house in a fast-moving market, but also stop you paying more than a house is worth if you are competing against 10 to 15 other offers. ‘We often hear of houses through our contacts before they have gone on the internet,’ she adds, ‘and we also play an important role making sure buyers stay sensible and don’t overbid!’ If you are in the Eindhoven region and are thinking about buying a house, feel free to get in touch with Roy Schreurs via firstmeeting@expatmortgages.nl Expat Mortgages is running a free housing seminar in Eindhoven on April 16th from 6.30pm to 9pm, to give expert advice on the area and the Dutch house buying process.  More >


Read all about it: Local news from every corner of the country

Read all about it: Local news from every corner of the country

The DutchNews.nl team is a small one and we cover the entire country. So sometimes local news stories don’t make the cut on our site. But there are other options out there. Here’s a round-up of local, English-language news sources and specialist news websites. Amsterdam Amsterdam, unsurprisingly, has a few options. The city government’s office for internationals, InAmsterdam, regularly updates its website with news stories from around the city. The city government itself also translates from of their news items into English and posts them on their website. The University of Amsterdam has an active English-language student paper, The Amsterdammer. The content is geared towards the student body but they also cover lots of local events and issues. InAmsterdam City of Amsterdam The Amsterdammer The Hague The city itself provides a lot of English-language news on their website. In addition, The Hague Online regularly updates with news stories about the city and region, plus lots of events and other useful information for local internationals. The Hague city council The Hague Online Utrecht Utrecht has Utrecht Central, which aims to keep internationals in Utrecht up to date with all the happenings in the city. Invest Utrecht is the province's business agency which publishes some corporate news and information. Utrecht Central Invest Utrecht Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland Going north, the Northern Times covers Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland. It provides daily news about the region and keeps a regional calendar so internationals can find lots of things to do. Northern Times Eindhoven To keep up with local events there check out Eindhoven News, a news website focused on the city which is updated daily. Eindhoven News Maastricht The southern city's international population can get their news from News Maastricht. It’s a Facebook page, not a website, but will keep you up to date. News Maastricht is part of the local RTV news station. News Maastricht Specialist news websites Tech and start-ups There are several 'official' start-up and tech websites focusing on the Netherlands out there, but our favourite is Silicon Canals which covers the whole of the Benelux and manages to avoid the hype. Football For fans of Oranje and the Dutch professional leagues, Football Oranje has the lowdown. Have we missed out your favourite local news source? Email editor@dutchnews.nl  More >


Is it time your fitness training schedule got personal?

Is it time your fitness training schedule got personal?

Are you still dithering about getting fit - even though you promised you really would take it seriously this year?  We visit the Personal Health Club in Amsterdam to find out why its personalised training concept gets clients such good results. ‘The personal attention that we give is what we stand for,’ says Ashton Payne, trainer and club manager at the Personal Health Club in the heart of Amsterdam’s Oud Zuid district. Founded in May 1997, the club has a long history of working closely with its members, the majority of which have stayed with the club in excess of 10 years. The Personal Health Club fills a gap between costly 1:1 personal training and conventional gym membership, offering a concept based on small groups working out with shared personal trainers. A month’s membership costs €115 and gives you unlimited access to the gym and a huge choice of (extra) classes such as Zumba, B-kick, yoga, boxing, Pump and more. Gym fatigue is unlikely. ‘[Normally] you go to the gym and you do the same thing over and over,’ says Ashton. ‘What they get here is a variety of exercises specific to their goals.’ The club has just 12 members of staff and feels much more welcoming than your typical corporate, inner-city gym. Though new guests from the Hilton hotel next door trickle in from time to time, almost every member is known to the team by name. ‘We don’t want you to just be a member of 1,500 people,’ explains Ashton. ‘We want you to have that personal feeling towards the gym that you go to.’ Each member has an individualised fitness programme. One or two trainers are always on duty and the main gym is limited to 16 members at any one time. Between 10am and 5pm, when the club is quieter, you can often get a trainer to yourself. Most group lessons are for a maximum of 12 members, while pilates classes are limited to six. ‘It’s unrealistic to want to make sure that everybody is doing something right if you have big classes,’ explains club manager and trainer Nando Chirino. Feel at home Clients are of all ages, but most are aged 40+ and appreciate the comfortable, social environment that characterises the club. ‘We just want people to feel like they are at home, that they are not scared to train,’ says Nando, who, like all the trainers, is also used to instructing members in several languages. ‘A lot of people have a fear of the gym and this is what we try to make a difference in. You can be free training with us, you don’t need to be afraid to tell us anything or tell us about any goal that you want to achieve.’ And since the trainers are part and parcel of your gym experience, there’s always someone to guide you or answer your questions. ‘It’s not like when you go to a store and you’re waiting to see who’s going to help you,’ says Nando. ‘We’re always there to help you and everybody tries to train everybody in equal measure.’ Anyone can come into the club and do two trial sessions for free. If they decide to enroll, there’s a thorough intake meeting – including a weigh-in and various computerised body mass calculations – designed to help the trainer get to know you better. In discussion with their clients, the trainers set realistic, attainable goals with a monthly follow-up and a full personal assessment twice a year. ‘I just love the reward you get from someone coming in and not being able to run five minutes on a tread mill, to doing 15-20 minutes after a couple of months of training,’ says Ashton. The Personal Health Club takes a holistic view of the client’s well-being. On-site facilities include a physiotherapist, beauty technician and masseur. There is also a Turkish steam bath, a sauna and a bar serving delicious smoothies. Instructors can offer nutritional advice and some clients even keep a food log as part of their training programme. Expert advice Ashton is my trainer for the afternoon and is giving me a taster of how they work. As I warm up gently on the cross trainer machine, we talk about my fitness goals: more stamina and better posture. Since he’s put me at ease, I also throw a pancake-flat stomach into the mix. I explain that exercise for me is mostly about boosting my mood and my energy. I tell him about the pilates I do, and the 6k runs I’ve recently taken up. Ashton is not at all sure I should be doing laps of the Vondelpark without seeking advice first. He is even less impressed when I wobble through a balancing test. You should build up your knee strength, he tells me, and be sure you’ve got the right running form, or the running may do more harm than good. We arrange a return visit to the gym where he will use a heart monitor to get a better idea of my fitness. We’ll also work on building strength around my knees, specifically the quadriceps and hamstrings, to help with running, and in my back to improve my posture. Doing exercises incorrectly wastes time and can be bad for your body, Ashton explains. ‘This concept is developed to make sure that you are efficient in the workout that you are getting.’ When I’m on the chest press machine, for example, Ashton notices that one shoulder is compensating for the other. We need to look into why that is, he tells me. As I write this, hunched lopsided over my computer, I have a pretty good idea. I think I’ll follow up my next session with a sauna and soak. Visit personalhealthclub.nl to find out more about how Ashton and the team can help you meet your fitness goals.  More >


Dutch destinations: 14 suggestions for that perfect spring break

Dutch destinations: 14 suggestions for that perfect spring break

With the weather turning warmer, what better thing to do with your weekend than go on a spring break? Since last year, DutchNews.nl has carried a monthly travel feature in which we give you the lowdown on a Dutch destination. Here's a round up to inspire you to see more of the Netherlands. Enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek Explore Leiden without the tourist hustle Deventer is an under-rated gem Explore Utrecht from high up and from way down Get a taste of the south in Venlo Enjoy art and cream pastries in Den Bosch Go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside There’s more to Delft than blue and white china Explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen Go north to Leeuwarden Exploring the shores of Ameland Take the train for a weekend in Rotterdam Getting windblown in winter on Texel Mooch around in Maastricht Would you like us to visit a particular destination and find out more? Email your suggestions to editor@dutchnews.nl  More >


Blogwatching: Keukenhof, the Netherlands

Blogwatching: Keukenhof, the Netherlands

Melissa Birdwell is behind the blog Mommy on a Mission. She's a mother of two living in The Netherlands and moved here from Texas 10 years ago.  I was asked yesterday (I think though maybe it was two days ago) why I have never written a blog about The Keukenhof. I have to admit I didn’t have an answer. I have been many times while living in the Netherlands and generally enjoyed the experience. Every year I contemplate taking the kids. Even better, every year I promise myself I will plan a grand adventure and rent bicycles and bike through the tulip fields taking magical pictures of my joyous kids. Then we would stop for a picnic on this perfect sunny day and I would feel pro-Dutch and all my friends on FB would be jealous of my perfect life amidst the tulips. I have never planned that biking trip and I only took the kids to the Keukenhof once a few years ago. It was a less than a joyous experience. I mean, it was fine. I’m not sure what I was more annoyed with: my kids at the Keukenhof: the tourists at the Keukenhof, or myself at the Keukenhof. My kids They can’t touch or pick the flowers. There was a lot of grass they couldn’t walk on. They were bored and moany and just wanted to run around and climb on things. I said the word “no” more on that day than I do in a month and it got really stressful. Looking back, I should have implemented a “stay on the path” policy from the beginning. Or, maybe, just chilled the fuck out a little. I was still in my “perfect mom who doesn’t raise her voice and never drinks” phase of parenting. I imagined people judging me for my boisterous children interrupting their serene tulip viewing experience. I am certainly not that person anymore. Thank goodness. It was so very stressful. Tourists Fucking hell I can’t tell you how busy it was. There were people everywhere. All standing around, taking pictures, pointing at things, just overall being annoying. I completely understand that they thought the exact same thing about me, but whatever. My personal bubble is sacred. Closer to closing time it started to empty out a little and I enjoyed that last hour or so very much. I felt free to move around and let the kids run (the website even says that the best time to be there is first thing in the morning or just before closing time. Me I was nuts. When someone asks me what I think of the Keukenhof my standard reaction is “driving 2 hours to spend a small fortune to hopefully get one pretty picture of your ungrateful kids in front of a pretty flower” (I’m such a delight, aren’t I). Logan, honey, sit next to your sister. No, not like that. Like this. Can you put your arm around her? NO? OK. I can work with this. Can you look at the camera, honey? Why are you making that face? Just smile normal. Riley, baby, look at mommy! Look at mommy! (she was still pretty little at the time) Logan, remember. NO!! STOP! PLEASE!!!!! Repeat that for an entire day. I was a crazy lady on a mission. Again, I am a much softer, gentler, boozier (if that’s even a word) person now so I think it would go differently now but that psycho mom still scares me a little. So what would I do if I were going to the Keukenhof with the kids tomorrow? First of all, layer. It is colder up north. I would resist the urge to put the kids in their prettiest clothes for the pictures and embrace the fact that they will most likely be wearing a coat or at least a sweater all day so that might as well be warm and comfortable. I would bring LOADS of snacks, an army runs on it’s stomach, after all. It is so freaking expensive to get in that I can’t afford eating out there all day as well. But this brings me to another point… How are you going to transport all that food (and for the love of god forget the juice boxes)? We have a red wagon that I bring on all day outings like this. It’s big and often difficult to navigate through crowds but I think it’s worth the bits of frustration. The kids are still at a size where they can both sit in with the food bags but it is a super tight fit. I would also save the playground for later in the day. After lunch or later in the afternoon if possible. I have known parents who started in the playground and found themselves stuck there for most of the day and when they left, the kids cried that they were bored and wanted to go back. Get the boring stuff out of the way first. Transportation You can take a car or public transport. There are plus and negatives to both, right? I mapped out the trip by car and door to door it will take just under two hours. It will take 2 hours 45 minutes bu public transport. If you drive you will have to pay €6 to park and pay for gas (in my car it takes about a half a tank of gas to get to Amsterdam so it would be about the same. So for me that’s around €35). If you go by public transport you will have to pay for 2 buses and at least one train. For more than one person it is, unfortunately, probably cheaper to go by car although I did see a special on the NS app for public transport and entrance for something like €35  and that’s a good deal. But I have no idea if that’s a limited offer so check it out and don’t get mad at me if it’s gone. Why is it so expensive to take the train here? I know they are nice and well cared for but jeesh. It shouldn't be cheaper for two people to drive than to take public transport, but whatever. So why am I writing this now having not been to the Keukenhof in a few years? Perhaps it’s because I was asked why I hadn’t written about it. Perhaps my backlog of super awesome places is massive and I thought I could start catching up on it (this is totally true). In reality, I think I am trying to convince myself to actually take the kids this year. I’m a calmer parent, my kids are a bit older, and I’ve developed this amazing “fuck you, I’m nearly a native” attitude that is essential in dealing with HORDES of tourists. After all, I can now handle Amsterdam like a champ. But the ideal day would be on a study day that is coming up and I have a super busy day before that and I’ll have limited time to prep. And it is super expensive. See that? I’m already trying to talk myself out of it. I would like to take them this year. If I do I promise a post about it and I’ll update anything that is needed. But I’m not going to promise anything. This was first published on Mommy On A Mission. Every month we feature a blog post from one of our favourite bloggers. Interested? See if your blog meets the criteria to be included on the site.  More >


DutchNews podcast – Article 13 Is Worse Than Article 50 – Week 13

DutchNews podcast – Article 13 Is Worse Than Article 50 – Week 13

Foreign interference looms large in this week's podcast as tulip growers tell tourists to stop trampling through their fields, the Dutch and Australian governments begin a series of highly awkward talks with Russia on the investigation into flight MH17, a Picasso is recovered from the clutches of the international underworld and Oranje's bright young upstarts are taught a familiar lesson by the Germans. In our discussion we ask why Europe's new copyright directive has become the most hated thing on the internet since Pepe the Frog. Ophef of the week Top story Forum for Democracy wins in three provinces, multi-party coalitions needed News Dutch budget surplus hits €1.5bn, almost double government estimates Netherlands and Australia hold first meeting with Russia on MH17 disaster Bulb farmers tell tourists to keep off the tulips Picasso stolen from yacht 20 years ago tracked down in Amsterdam Sport Netherlands 2 Germany 3: Sucker punch stymies spirited Oranje comeback Zandvoort gives green light to Grand Prix with €4 million funding package Discussion: Why is Europe's new copyright law causing such a stir? Lobby group Bits of Freedom calls new European copyright law a 'disgrace' Europe's controversial overhaul of copyright law receives final approval (The Verge) What is Article 13? The EU's divisive new copyright plan explained (Wired) European Parliament approves new copyright rules for the internet (European Parliament website)  More >


Calling all scale-ups: there’s a new, interactive conference in town

Calling all scale-ups: there’s a new, interactive conference in town

This May a new international event for scale-ups is being held in Amsterdam. The BASE Conference, launched by local entrepreneurs, is dedicated to businesses which are about to, or already, scaling up. BASE is an acronym for Build, Advance, Sustain and Elevate - the four pillars that founders Veronica Guguian and Lana Jelenjev see as fundamental to grow a business to the next level. ‘We believe that building relationships and managing resources are key for scale-ups’, says Guguian. ‘They can really make a difference when expanding a business and building a strong team, especially when combined with advanced strategies for marketing & sales, and, of course, innovation.' For a sneak preview of the approach of the big event, sign up for the BASE webinar on how to get free publicity on April 9. The actual conference on May 29 will bring together business owners, professionals, managers and policymakers to share knowledge and create connections that will help any business scale. City council-backed organisation Startup Amsterdam is among the partners. Speakers Each speaker has been selected keeping in mind the four pillars of BASE and the actual needs of business owners who are in the process of growing their company. They include business transformation expert Elianne Oei, networking professional Charles Ruffulo and Patrick Wind, of AdsAccelerator.com and one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 ranking. Ben Shorter and Simone Vincenzi from the UK will be talking about exponential growth and how to organize your sales team while David Beckett, tedX speaking coach, will show you how to make the most of pitching. More speakers are being announced on a daily basis. International community The conference focuses on start-ups that have received their 3rd round of investment(s) and are ready to go to the next level, SMEs that are planning new launches or want to enter new markets and entrepreneurs who want to scale from a ‘one-man team’ to a business utilising multiple teams, systems and infrastructures. The BASE team is also launching an international community that will serve as a hub to facilitate business interactions, share of knowledge and resources, and support the building of a better business environment, both in the Netherlands and worldwide. Webinars, regular news updates and a LinkedIn group will all play a part in this. For more information about the event, the tickets, the team and the speakers, please visit; https://baseconference.amsterdam DutchNews.nl readers can enjoy a 50% discount on the price of a normal ticket. Sign up here and use the code DutchNews50, making sure to select 'partner ticket'.   More >


Yes, there are still places at an international school in Amsterdam

Yes, there are still places at an international school in Amsterdam

Finding a place at an international school has just got easier. We visit the newly opened Amity International School Amsterdam, which is creating much-needed places for expat families in search of an English-speaking education. Any conversation among expat newcomers to Amsterdam about finding a good quality international education for their children invariably includes two words: waiting list. Rapid economic growth in the Netherlands has seen Amsterdam emerge as a European hub for commerce, finance and technology, attracting twice as many foreign migrants (largely from the US, UK and India) as ten years ago. The education sector has struggled to keep up, with many international schools full to capacity, but Amity International School Amsterdam, which opened its state-of-the-art campus in Amstelveen in February 2018, is enrolling new students all the time and hopes to ease the shortage of places. Personal attention Amity is a not-for-profit organisation with schools in over 25 countries all over the world. The Amsterdam branch currently has just over 120 students aged 3 to 12, but as word gets out and the senior school expands – with Middle Years (12-13-year-olds) coming on roll in September – it is making steady progress towards its capacity of 600 students. Admissions from all year groups are accepted all year round. On the day we visit, three new children are starting. This gradual enrolment of students, says principal David Porritt, has enabled them to keep their 'one-size-fits-one' mission and ‘pay a lot of attention to individual children and their parents and really help them feel that this is their school and that they belong.’ This is why children who have had difficulties elsewhere appear to thrive at the school, he says. Parent Julie Goodey, who volunteers in the school library, moved her ten-year-old son to the school when he was struggling to settle into the Dutch system. The small class sizes and the personal attention he has received have really helped him, and he has adapted well to the inquiry-based Primary Years Programme* taught at the school. ‘It’s been really good,’ she says. ‘I really love the curriculum.’ Diversity More than 30 different nationalities currently attend the school and the staff are fully aware of how important it is that they all feel at home. ‘There is a genuine, authentic celebration of unity through diversity,’ says Mr Porritt. ‘What you see is a real sense of peace, fairness and justice amongst young people – they love each other [and] they care about each other in a way that we could learn a lot from!’ This openness to other cultures is also reflected in the school curriculum, which includes French and Dutch from age three. ‘There’s a celebration of language right from the start,’ the Principal explains. Though the student body is still small, the school has been fully staffed since the beginning to ensure that children have all the care and support they need from day one. As well as Modern Languages specialists, for example, there are full time Special Needs and EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers, and even a school nurse. Facilities Amity’s glassy monumental building and colourful modern interior is a real showstopper – and having only recently opened, offers immaculate accommodation with brand new furnishings and equipment. An enormous vaulted reception, with sculptures and a marble floor, leads – via a security card – to spacious, light-filled classrooms with a beautifully designed, playful décor packed with impressive displays of the children’s work. Built into the design are wide communal spaces where students can come together to play and learn. Despite the school’s proximity to the capital, the site is surrounded by grass, canals and woodland –and most classrooms look out onto green spaces. Amity encourages its students to explore and be outside as much as possible. Today, unhindered by the drizzle, a group of enthusiastic pupils are busy digging up turf as they learn how to create their own garden. Yet, a site – however extraordinary – does not make a school: it’s the buzzing student community at this school that makes it special. One of the things that gives the Principal most pleasure is watching Amity slowly fill up and come to life. ‘It’s like the fizz in the bottle of lemonade,’ he says. To find out more about Amity International School Amsterdam, visit their website or contact the admissions office. The school is holding an open morning on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 between 10 am and 12 pm. You can register via Facebook *Amity International School Amsterdam is a candidate school for the PYP pursuing authorisation as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy – a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education. Only schools authorised by the IB Organisation can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorisation will be granted.  More >