Expat Voices: Laila Borrie on living in the Netherlands
"The first city I saw was Rotterdam. I was very disappointed because it looked so modern. I had expected canals and cobbled streets."
Name: Laila Borrie
City of residence: Rotterdam
Date of birth: 16 September 1978
Civil status: five-year residency card
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Husband's job
Lived in the Netherlands for: nearly 4 years
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
The first city I saw was Rotterdam. I was very disappointed because it looked so modern. I had expected canals and cobbled streets.
What do you think of the food?
Not a big fan of the local cuisine but there is a good choice of international restaurants (available in the big cities), which I enjoy. I also like that a lot of the produce is fresh and of good quality.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
I thought it was absolutely great till I visited the UK. I think there is a lot more variety there, but you can’t beat the Dutch prices for budget stuff.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
The public transport for sure, although I have noticed that it’s been gradually getting worse over the years. I also like that it’s clean and relatively unpolluted. Oh! And the fact that you can take a little peak into people’s houses as you walk by...
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
The lack of warmth and friendliness, although people are very polite and helpful. Also the absolutely rubbish customer service.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I come from a country that speaks many different languages and has always adapted and integrated with 'foreigners' so I find the constant pressure and focus on having to speak proper Dutch and be 'Dutch' culturally a bit tiresome. I miss the lack of formality and warmth that people in my country seem to possess.
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 overall quality of life in the Netherlands is very high. Its clean, it’s pretty safe, it’s got good public services, and it’s so well connected to the rest of Europe.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
That people would be a bit more welcoming and less judgmental.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Try to join as many expat groups and clubs as you can and do your best to try and settle in. Exploring the country and learning the language makes a big difference.
Would you like to add anything?
If you are finding it hard to cope and think you do not like living in the Netherlands, know that many expats find it hard to settle down initially no matter the country. Say you will try it out for six months to one year and give it your best shot! You just might surprise yourself by finding it’s a great country to live in after all.
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.
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