Expat Voices: Adeline Tan on living in Rijswijk
British expat Adeline Tan lives in Rijswijk and loves living "next door to nature," but misses Asian food courts and English charity shops.
Name: Adeline Tan
City of residence: Rijswijk ZH
Date of birth: 1 May 1980
Civil status: Single
Occupation: Contract worker - business administrator
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: To look for work post-graduation, to be with my partner
Lived in the Netherlands for (give weeks/ months/or years): 11 months
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
The first time I visited the country was at the end of April 2010. I got here just in time to celebrate Queen's Day, and thought it was one of the best street parties I had ever seen. Food, drink, music and celebration everywhere I looked (Delft city centre). I'd never seen so many bicycles all at once (Delft train station bike lot) in my life! It was a blue-sky and sunshine day, and my thought was "I really want to live here!"
What do you think of the food?
To be honest, the food is great and there's loads of choice, I have yet to find food that is truly "Dutch", if you don't count "stamppot" (which I actually like).
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
Shopping in general, the Dutch need to take a leaf out of some of Asia's shopping malls! Outside of the big cities, there are too few shops in a place at a time, and they are mostly open to the weather (no fun if you need to shop in bad weather, let alone winter). Prices are a little on the steep side, but I've seen worse. Shopping by variety; again, more shops would be nice. Shopping for groceries, I love it! The staff at my local Hoogvliet recognize me!
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
Living in Rijswijk specifically, I really like the fact that I live next door to nature. A canal beside the front door, a duck pond across the street, a lake down the road, and a forest out back! Overall in the Netherlands, I adore public transport! I've been able to get everywhere I've wanted to go, just by public transport!
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
The fact that it's incredibly difficult to find work if you're a fresh graduate and you lack experience in your chosen field, and you don't speak the local language--let alone three European languages!
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you've moved here?
Puzzling is the local tax system (sorry, it's tax time, what can I say?). I have yet to figure out how I'm supposed to submit my taxes and I can't afford to pay an expert to sort me out. There's a really strange mortgage system here too...
From England, I miss the plenitude of charity shops - you could find at least one on almost every main street in any town. I miss free libraries and free healthcare.
From Malaysia, I miss food courts with a hundred different choices to tempt your palate and shopping malls stretching several kilometres lengthwise and upwards. I miss my car.
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you've lived in?
I think my quality of life has seriously improved since I moved here. I've got time for myself, time for my partner, time to feed the ducks if I want to.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
The law that says contractor staff can only work for one company for up to a maximum of three years. I'm not looking forward to being let go down the line.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Take Dutch lessons in advance - learning Dutch in Holland is annoying because your teacher takes a lot of things about the way he or she learned the language for granted and expect you to pick it up the way they did.
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