Expat Holland (The Netherlands)
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The Sinterklaas Guide
Expat Focus Columnists - The Netherlands (Holland)
As well as being a hit with tourists from across the World, the Netherlands is a popular destination for expats due to the welcome it provides, which go as far as to let expats with residency status vote in local elections.
Where you reside in the Netherlands will usually depend on your personal situation and which factors are most important to your decision, for example employment, schooling, retirement issues or leisure facilities. If you enjoy culture and typical Dutch features, such as tulips, windmills and canals, then Rotterdam would not be your likely choice; however, if you want a relaxed city, Maastricht could be the ideal place for you to set up your home and new life. more ...
On July 22, 2009 at 9:55 am I took the train to Amsterdam Sloterdijk. I waited 10 minutes outside a bus waiting for the driver to finish his pause. I took the bus to the CBR building. The whole trip, I had my eyes glued to the Driving Theory Manual I had borrowed a few days before. As I flipped pages, I ran through theory rules and statistics.
The past several weeks, I've been preparing for my Rijbewijs Theorie Examen or my Driving Theory Exam. Because I'm not a member of the European Union, I had to get a Dutch driver's license. The part I really love about this is that Brits and Irishfolk and the like belong to the EU and so are able to skip this fun sequence of events and money suckling I have to go through. EVEN THOUGH THEY DRIVE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND CAR! Yes, the Dutch drive the same way we do in America, France, Germany, Belgium, etc. Left side of the car, right side of the road. Yet, after 6 months my American license is no longer valid here and I suddenly don't know how to drive anymore? Now, to be fair, since learning all these theory tidbits, I have felt loads safer on the road. Not to mention there were a few things I was doing that aren't so much legal here... more ...
The Dutch kitchen is pretty basic and mostly involves a lot of green vegetables, potatoes and sausages. A typical Dutch meal involves mashing potatoes and vegetables together and adding sausages.
French fries can be found most anywhere and the favorite place to find the Dutch is at a French fry stand. If you order 'patat met' it is French fries with mayonnaise, which is the favorite of the Dutch. You will also find fresh fish stands sprinkled through the shopping centers and on the corner of the street. You will see the Dutch standing around the fish stand, eating their favorite smoked or raw pickled herring and always with fresh chopped onions. This is not for me but I do appreciate 'watching' them. I will order kibbeling, which is a fresh white fish, battered and deep fried and served with a sauce. more ...
Approximately 20 years ago, I was sitting on the Harwich-Hoek van Holland boat with two friends and a peculiar little guide book. We were taking turns to recite “Spher-ayhkt OO ng-gels ass-too-bleeeeft?” and other natty phases to each other. After a while, we began wondering if we were doing the right thing going to live in a country where people use words like ass-too-bleeeft, even if we were only planning to stay for a few months. Frustrated and slightly unnerved, we gave up and went to watch Robocop in the ship’s cinema instead.
I think that initial optimism followed by shock and awe is a common first reaction to learning Dutch. Ok – unlike me and my friends, not everyone is stupid enough to set off for a new country, thinking they can pick up enough of the language on the cross channel ferry to have a cosy chat when they arrive. The trouble with Dutch is that it is unlikely that you will have heard it anywhere else before you arrive here as it has a pretty small language area. Even if , unlike us, you are smart enough to listen to language CDs beforehand, this is no substitute for the real thing. Despite similarities to German and shared words with English, Dutch really is in a class of its own. The other, much-repeated problem is that most Dutch people speak such good English that you feel like an idiot for even trying and you feel like more of an idiot when they answer your stumbling attempts to speak their language with a smooth reply in near-perfect English and what often looks like a badly-concealed smirk on their faces. more ...
Fiets (bicycles) are a very common sight in Holland. They are a popular mode of transport and it is estimated that there are more than 16 million of them in the country. This number may or may not include the mangled, rusting, one-wheeled, non-roadworthy bicycles found chained to lamp posts, bridges or sunk at the bottom of the canals around the country. Even if it does there are still a lot of them in use every day.
Some bicycles look like rusty old frames that have been handed down through the family generation after generation. In most of these cases the locks seem to cost more than the bikes themselves, and there is no need for a bell since the squeaking of the wheels is enough to give any pedestrian a fair warning. Some Dutch people like to paint or decorate their old bikes as well. When visiting Amsterdam it is usually guaranteed that you will see at least one bicycle chained to a bridge somewhere that has been decorated with plastic flowers or painted with bright circular patterns to make them more unique. Another reason for this could be to turn away bicycle thieves. more ...
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