Expat Voices: Jorge Aristizabal on living in the Netherlands
Expat Jorge would like to see customer service added to the Dutch curriculum but nevertheless finds "a happy feeling" pervading the Netherlands.
Name: Jorge Aristizabal
City of residence: Amsterdam
Date of birth: 12 October 1972
Civil status: In a relationship
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Partner’s career
Lived in the Netherlands for: 11 months 2 weeks
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
Beautiful, peaceful, very organised and happy. A great place to live. If you have kids, it’s perfect. Biking everywhere took me back to my childhood. Living surrounded by water is like a fabula.
What do you think of the food?
Bread and cheeses are fantastic; the best in Europe I might say. If you cook your own food you will survive; dining out is expensive for what you get. I can recommend one single Thai restaurant in the Jordaan district in Amsterdam and one decent sushi restaurant in the centre as well. Dutch food is very heavy and creamy. Fries are good but not every day. Supermarkets don’t have much variety in vegetables or meat.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
Not exciting. Go to Paris or London.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
The quality of life is the best. Enjoying a picnic in the park all day long. Having my table reserved for diner and it’s mine for the whole night is shocking the first time, but there is no where else to go if you are having a good time chatting with your friends. No over-spending and not having credit card debt is a plus. Dutch spend only what they have and credit cards here are only for 20 days… Yes, I screamed at first too but now it’s great.
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
No customer service and they don’t care.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
Fantastic food in restaurants and customer service of any kind, of course!
People not talking back in Dutch to me doesn’t help me to learn. I learned English as a second language because people talked only English to me for years.
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 the Netherlands has the best quality of life of the countries I have lived in. There is a happy feeling around the country. Biking keeps you in shape and is very ecological. I moved from Toronto, so I changed the winter jacket for an umbrella.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
Make them learn about customer service since elementary school…forever. Maybe one day they’ll learn.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Enjoy the view and give at least 40 minutes for your coffee or your meal to arrive in any restaurant… It might be more!
Then suddenly without you realising it, one day everything will work out just fine. I don’t know how, but it can happen.
Would you like to add anything that we haven’t addressed in the questionnaire?
It’s a beautiful country; make sure you go to the small mill and cheese towns like Zaanse Schans. Get a bike. Understand that as an expat you always go through a process where you will love it as paradise one day and hate everything for a couple of weeks sometimes—it’s normal—then after a while you will feel at home. Enjoy the ride.
All photos © Jorge Aristizabal
Joining Expat Voices
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