From London to Holland: Invading Holland
My name is Stuart. I’m an Englishman from London and I’ve been living in Holland since 2001.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My move abroad was not exactly planned. In fact, in many ways it was quite by accident . I had no plans to move to Holland. I didn’t even have any plans to leave London but after a year of being out of college and still trying to find a job I came across a cryptic job advertisement that intrigued me. It had no address, no phone number. All it had was an email address. It was very mysterious but I thought I would apply anyway even though I was aware that it could lead to some kind of fake office interview/black market organ harvesting situation.
When I received a reply a few days later there were two surprises. (1) At no point did they enquire about the condition of my internal organs and (2) they were offering to pay for my flight to the interview location in Amsterdam… Holland. As you might have guessed until that point I had (maybe rather foolishly) not even considered that the job might be in another country.
2. How do you make a living ?
I still work for the same company that originally brought me over to Holland. I’m a Multiplayer Designer for Guerrilla Games (a part of Sony) and design levels and game mechanics for the Killzone franchise on the PS3. We just (at the time of writing) finished our latest game a short while ago. It’s a great job. I get to play computer games all the time and my wife can’t complain because it’s research (that’s what I tell her at least).
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I go back over to England at least twice a year to visit friends and family. My parents come over to visit us in Holland as well. The telephone is a great invention as well.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?
I really like the pace of life here. I also really like being able to cycle around the city. You would never be able to do that in London without ending up under a truck. Before I moved to the Netherlands I had not been on a bike since I was 13. Now it is a part of my everyday life. I just miss having some hills to speed down but on the positive side there are no hills for me to struggle up so it all evens out I guess.
I find the locals very friendly, so friendly in fact that I married one. As a whole I find the Dutch very friendly indeed (even the ones I am not married to). Some people sometimes describe them as blunt and sometimes this can be true but I just think they are more honest and that can be very refreshing. I like the Dutch a lot.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?
Dutch circle parties without a doubt. Anyone who thinks a ‘party’ is off the hook when it involves sitting in a circle, drinking tea and eating cake with the grandparents in attendance is clearly crazy (ok, that’s not really a bad one but I really do struggle to come up with anything really negative).
6. What do you miss most?
My family and friends. The good thing is they are not too far away.
7. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The love of Pindakaas. I’ll never understand it.
8. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I think I’ve made most of these up myself. I’ve told friends things like:
Everyone in Holland is 6’5 tall. Any Dutch person who has not reached this height by their 21st birthday is exiled to Belgium.
Due to a series of escalating over exaggerated tourists stories visitors to Amsterdam are often disappointed to discover that the red light district is in fact just an area with a lot of faulty traffic lights.
The wide popularity and use of bicycles in Holland can be directly linked to the song ‘Bicycle Race’ by Queen when it became a smash hit in 1978. Bicycle sales jumped by 89% and, “I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like,” became a national slogan.
But as for real ones; I think it’s an over exaggeration that the Dutch are unfriendly. They are just honest and not everyone knows how to react to that.
9. What advice would you give other expats?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid if things do not go well at first. I almost gave up on living in Holland after a few weeks because I was feeling terribly home sick. If it had not been for the advice of a very good friend of mine I might well have gone home and never came back. He said to me, “Don’t be an idiot. You can come back anytime you want. Give it a few weeks before you make a stupid dissension.” I’m very happy he said that because once I had worked through it and got used to Holland I discovered that I was extremely happy here and I continue to be so.
10. When and why did you start your blog?
I started about five years ago. I knew I wanted to try something out with website creation and my flat mate at the time introduced me to this strange new thing I had never heard of before called ‘blogging’. I’ve never been one for taking things serious so my blog very quickly became about the humours side of being an expat in Holland. I also have the reputation of being quite accident prone so I had a lot of ‘interesting’ stories to tell. The cartoons were a later addition after I had become addicted to blogging.
I’ve met quite a few new friends through blogging. I also like being able to make other people laugh with my stories.
Stuart's blog, Invading Holland
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