Expat Voices: Arwa Lokhandwala on living in the Netherlands
Indian expat Arwa Lokhandwala likes the orderly way of doing things in the Netherlands, loves the bread but is puzzled by the 'kring' thing.
Name: Arwa Lokhandwala
City of residence: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Date of birth: 21-05-1984
Civil status: Married
Occupation: Writer and blogger (http://orangesplaash.blogspot.com/)
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Spouse got a job here.
Lived in the Netherlands for: 1 year
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
One hears a lot about windmills, tulips, dairy products, and clogs before moving to the Netherlands. And coming here, you are not surprised to find all of that along with wet, windy and cold weather, and of course the colour orange.
What do you think of the food?
I simply love the different varieties of bread that are on offer in the supermarket, the plain ones as well as the ones with sesame seeds, oat flakes, soybeans etc. It’s also amazing to see the range of bread toppings; cheese, hagelslag, aardbeienjam, appelstroop, vlokken, pindakaas just to mention a few. In India, we do not eat much of bread, rather we have rotis.
We enjoy the dairy products, varieties of vegetables, and fruits -- a few veggies and fruits like broccoli,asparagus, olives, blueberries, kiwis are not so commonly available in India. Dutch desserts, waffles and muffins are also occasionally good to eat. I want to learn how to make cookies and pancakes.
When I saw someone eating a haring for the first time, it was quite a sight to witness.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
There are a lot of options available in that respect. One can easily find supermarkets, huge shopping malls, branded chain stores and open markets in almost all cities. Besides that, I find plenty of Asian shops in Rotterdam so that makes life a lot easier for me.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
The fact that people bike a lot (dat is gezond), the clean and green environment, the dedication towards work, the punctuality and healthcare. Their way of meeting others with a prompt goedendag and a smile on the face is the best thing about the people here. The Dutch are very helpful, kind and patient too.
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
The short days in the winters; sometimes days pass before you get to see the sun. The cold weather is not a big problem for me, but when it gets dark after four in the afternoon it becomes a bit too much.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
The kring thing – interactions with the Dutch are generally limited to greetings and climate-related small talks. It is very difficult to get them speaking to you on a more personal level. Perhaps what I read about their forming a kring (a group of close friends) in their childhood days, can explain that behaviour.
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
I have lived in India all my life (I have lived in the cities Jodhpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai) except for a short stint in Denmark. The quality of life is much better here in terms of things such as cleanliness, health care, public transportation and education. The Dutch have a very orderly way of doing things; forming and waiting in queues where necessary, which requires some patience. It’s quite an open, liberal culture and a single ray of sunlight is enough to bring a smile to their faces.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
The customer service here leaves a lot to be desired. It has happened sometimes that I have called up the customer care for some issue and they do not have a clue about the subject.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Get out there and discover and experience and feel the country. It’s a great opportunity to learn about a different culture and a way of life. Believe me, it will leave you enriched. Therefore, come with an open mind and heart.
Would you like to add anything?
The Dutch generally speak very good English and therefore, even if you do not know the Dutch language, you can still manage on your own. But learning Dutch has its own incentives and makes life much smoother, although you don't get to practice it a lot initially; upon hearing your broken Dutch, they will switch to English immediately.
Joining Expat Voices
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