Expat Voices: Graham Jackson on living in the Netherlands
New arrival Graham Jackson finds Dutch society progressive and free-thinking, but would make some alterations to the landscape and scenery.
Name: Graham Jackson
City of residence: Wageningen
Date of birth: 28/06/1984
Civil status: In a relationship
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: My Dutch girlfriend.
Living in the Netherlands since: February 2008
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
The direct and friendly nature of the people; the harsh sound of the language; everybody cycling; water, water everywhere.
What do you think of the food?
Meat, potatoes and vegetables--it’s very similar to England. Snacks such as a frikandel speciaal or poffertjes are really tasty though!
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
Very similar to England (so I mostly shop online!) Wageningen is small but has a great weekly market. Arnhem, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Amsterdam are all nearby so there’s a lot of choice.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
The opportunity to discover a new culture and way of life; the Veluwe is a really beautiful region to live in; the international atmosphere in Wageningen; being able to cycle safely everyday; reliable transport services (take note England); a progressive, free-thinking, integrated society that is always open to discussion and change; Johan Cruyff and total football; the ice skating.
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
Bureaucracy; Less flexibility in terms of employment options.
What puzzles you about Dutch culture and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
The popularity of De Toppers and all the other terrible karaoke acts; the lack of a music scene outside of Amsterdam.
I miss family and friends, the English countryside and some English cuisine. The internet brings everything closer though and I’m fortunate that ‘home’ is only ever a 45-minute flight away.
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
I don’t see any wild differences between the quality of life in England and the quality of life here.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
I would probably make some alterations to the landscape and scenery…
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Read up on the country–the basic laws, the way of life, your rights, employment options etc etc–before you arrive (use Expatica!). Be patient with the Dutch bureaucratic system; learn the language but don’t be afraid to ask for assistance as almost everyone can speak English. Get on a bicycle and check out your surroundings straight away.
Joining Expat Voices
If you would like to share your perspective about life in the Netherlands and contribute to Expat Voices, send an email to editorNL@expatica.com with 'Please send me an Expat Voices questionnaire' in the subject line. If you would like to share your perspective about life in the Netherlands and contribute to Expat Voices, send an email to editorNL@expatica.com with 'Please send me an Expat Voices questionnaire' in the subject line.
Graham Jackson now writes a fortnightly cultural blog for Expatica's Arts & Culture channel. Read his first entry Dutch cinema: Development of Karakter.
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.