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From the USA to the Netherlands back to the USA: Clogs and Hotdogs

08 April, 2019 07:59  Erin Erin

Clogs and hot dogs I’m Tiffany and I moved from the U.S. to the Netherlands and then back to the U.S. Our blog is Clogs and Hotdogs: An AmeriDutch Family Takes on the World.

1. Why did you move abroad?
My husband is Dutch and was living in the Netherlands at the time. He already owned a home and his career was location-dependent at the time, so it made more sense for me to make the move

2. How do you make a living?
My degree is in theatre and I had spent a number of years teaching, so I decided to combine the two and teach an after school program at various international schools throughout the Netherlands. I started Little Broadway in 2009. After my daughter was born a few years later, I switched to freelance writing as a way to stay home with her. I wrote for publications in the Netherlands and abroad. I continue to make my living as a writer to this day.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Facebook was always the easiest way to communicate back home for me. I could share pictures and little updates. With family and close friends, I did a lot of Skyping. It makes a difference being able to see people and it keeps the cost of communication way down. That was mainly how my husband and I kept in touch while we were dating. Now that we have smartphones and are on the other side of the Atlantic, we keep in touch with my in-laws through FaceTime. And we were really lucky that my father works for a major airline and we can take reduced-price trips flying standby.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?

I thought I would hate having to cycle everywhere, but it turned out to be the thing I loved best and thething I miss most since we’ve been back in the States. Some of my best memories are of cycling from one destination to another with my husband or a friend.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?
What struck me was how quickly and definitely the Dutch expect you to assimilate. It always seemed like immigrants were allowed a month or two before the expectation was that they would *be* Dutch. It took me about 2 years to become completely fluent in Dutch and I made it a point to jump right in when it came to adopting the culture, but I was always made to feel ‘other’. And it’s a feeling that other immigrants in the Netherlands have expressed.

6. What do you miss most?
It’s funny the things you miss. Besides people, of course, I found that large vehicles, 24-hour establishments, Nyquil/Dayquil, and friendly smiles were what I missed most. Now that I’m back in the U.S., I miss cycling, Hot Coldrex, small stores with smaller product selections, and quality roads.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I joined an international women’s club and started singing in a Dutch women’s choral group. Learning the language was crucial, so I spent a lot of time in Dutch language classes and getting my Dutch language diploma. Within the first year, I had my Dutch driver’s license, had started a business, and was babysitting once a week. I also took a class at a local dance studio, which was a fun way to meet people and practice the language.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Hands-down the birthday circle. First of all, everyone gets invited to the party - parents, grandparents, friends, children. When you get there, you have to go around to everyone, congratulating them on the big day, not just the birthday boy/girl. Then you sit in a ring with the other guests and make awkward conversation while the person you’re all celebrating serves everyone. You leave not have really spent anytime at all with the birthday boy/girl.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That its inhabitants wear clogs and get high smoking weed all the time.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It depends. Housing is much cheaper in the United States, but groceries are far more expensive. Our grocery bill has almost doubled since coming back to the States, but the home we have here would be several times more in the Netherlands.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
Moving to a new country is hard. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to acclimate and your new country and its people to grow on you, an outlet to vent, and room to make mistakes. Getting involved also helps. Join a group or club, take a class, find a hobby, get out and do things you enjoy. You’ll make friends, be out among people, and create opportunities to get to know your new surroundings. Connections in the international community.

Clogs and hot dogs 12. When and why did you start your blog?
Initially after I moved, I kept a LiveJournal for friends and family detailing what I was getting up to in my new country. After finding A Letter from the Netherlands (now Turning Dutch) and A Touch of Dutch, I switched to blogspot, creating Clogs and Tulips: An American in Holland.

I wanted it to be a place where I could share what I was doing and learning. There’s a huge learning curve when you move to a new country and I saw how helpful it was for me to read others’ blogs and ask questions of the other members of the international community. I wanted to be that lifeline for someone else.

Now that we’re no longer in the Netherlands, a change was needed to the blog, so I rebranded it as Clogs and Hotdogs: An AmeriDutch Family Takes on the World. It has all the same content as well as some thoughts on repatriating and raising a Third Culture Kid.

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