Expat Voices: Jens Sorensen on living in the Netherlands
Danish expat Jens considers really getting to know the Dutch "a blessing", though they sometimes take their renowned tolerance so far it "seems to turn into intolerance."
Name: Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen
City of residence: Amsterdam
Date of birth: 6 January 1961
Civil status: Engaged to be married
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Change of scene!
Lived in the Netherlands for: 9 months
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
Flat, crowded, orderly, liberal, tolerant and relaxing!
What do you think of the food?
Traditional Dutch food can be very nice and a bit too special. But living in Amsterdam you are spoiled for choice in regard to different ethnic food.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
Shopping in Amsterdam is great. You name it and you can get it!
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
That it is so central in Europe. I’ve always wanted to live central! And in Amsterdam it’s like living in a museum!
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
That a lot of Dutch people have a bad habit of not doing what they say they will do. That sometimes tolerance seems to turn into intolerance. Let me give you an example: if someone has their feet and dirty shoes on the opposite seat in the train and you say something, it’s you that’s not tolerant.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I’m puzzled by the frankness of the Dutch – both positively and negatively. I miss my daily Danish newspaper (Politiken).
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
Absolutely above average!
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
Their aggressive and pushy behaviour in traffic. I would ease up on their great love for bureaucracy. (Wherever I’ve lived I’ve never seen so much paperwork.)
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Be patient with the Dutch and they will slowly (but surely) grow on you.
Would you like to add anything that we haven’t addressed in the questionnaire?
I moved here because I wanted too. Before I only knew Amsterdam and the Dutch from being a tourist, and that was a nice experience. But getting the opportunity to know Amsterdam and the Dutch for ‘real’ is a blessing. Now I only need to learn the lingo (so help me God!).
Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen is a trained journalist and librarian, born in Copenhagen in 1961 and living in Amsterdam since February 2009. He blogs about life in Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a foreigner at http://adamblog.jawsmedia.dk .
All photos © Jens Sorensen
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