Expat Voices: Musliha Ajmain Janssen on living in the Netherlands
Singaporean Musliha Ajmain Janssen is bothered by the lack of punishment for certain criminals in the Netherlands but feels that the Dutch have better laws protecting employees than in Singapore.
Name: Musliha Ajmain Janssen
City of residence: Geleen, The Netherlands
Date of birth: 25 September 1975
Civil status: Married with one daughter
Occupation: Volunteer / Full-time homemaker
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Marriage to Dutch born husband
Lived in the Netherlands for nine years four months
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
I arrived at the beginning of summer, so the weather was delightful and welcoming and it made the transition a little bit more tolerable. I was a taken aback by my new house though, as it was located in a rather far flung location in a town I couldn’t even find on the map.
What do you think of the food?
When my husband first cooked ‘stampot’ for me, I added sambal to enhance the taste, much to his horror and amusement. I accept that bland food is the culinary tradition here, but I don’t accept how all types of food have to be toned down to suit the Dutch’s taste buds. It is especially disheartening to experience the Asian food, which I grew up with, manipulated so badly in restaurants that it doesn’t taste anything like the real thing. I haven’t found any (Asian) restaurant here that serves anything close to the authentic food I grew up with.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
I love the variety of sizes available for someone of my height and size, something I couldn’t easily find back home. The downside though is that shopping is very expensive and I really have to watch what I spend.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
It is a non-intrusive culture; people generally leave you alone and mind their own business. It is a pro but there are cons to it as well.
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
I have had an ongoing bad experience with the healthcare system here, which I discovered is not exclusive to foreigners. The never-ending annoying red tape might be fine with other areas of life but when it comes to people’s lives, exceptions should and ought to be made. They may have the best and most expensive medical equipment but first world technology is useless with a third world approach. I believe part of the whole problem is due to the political system and though the democratic process is refreshing, the politics here is a classic case of ‘too many cooks spoil the soup’. There are too many political debates going on without anything concrete ever materialising from those same discussions.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I understand that some criminals, especially those who commit misdemeanours should be rehabilitated but the lack of punishment for the same criminals bothers me. My home country is notorious for being a police state but that also means I can walk down the street at any time of the night and/or day without being worried about getting assaulted in any way. If by some chance, something does happen to me, I have the peace of mind to know that the perpetrators will be dealt in a way befitting of the crime committed upon me. I do not have that same peace of mind here.
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
They have better laws protecting employees.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
Joining Expat Voices
If you would like to share your perspective about life in the Netherlands, please send an email to editorNL@expatica.com with 'Please send me an Expat Voices questionnaire' in the subject line.
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.