Expat Voices: Nerissa Muijs on living in the Netherlands
Although scared of Febo, haring and paling, Nerissa Muijs has made great steps with integration and, coming from rural Australia, just loves having music venues like the Paradiso or Melkweg within easy reach.
Name: Nerissa Muijs
Country of residence: Netherlands
How long have you lived here: Three years
City/town of residence: Almere
Date of birth: 1979-2-19
Civil status: Married
Occupation: IT Professional
Reason for moving to your new country of residence: Spouse
Cycling to work every day. It's faster than taking public transport and I manage to cycle every day (unless it's too icy). I'm happy I work in the same town that I live.
More than anything I love that I can go to see live music all the time. Huge bands in the Paradiso or the Melkweg and it's cheap! Coming from rural Australia seeing big tours was completely foreign to me. Here it's almost weekly!
What do you find most frustrating about living in your new country of residence?
The "We don't give way, we take way" mentality. Walking/cycling/running into others and then refusing to apologise (or even acknowledge what happened). Dog crap and the refusal to pick it up, even if it's on a busy footpath or where children play. The bureaucracy surrounding integration.
What puzzles you the most and what do you miss the most since you've moved here?
Giving way to the right at (almost) all times, even on a busy stretch of road baffles me.
I miss eye contact with strangers and a sense of community. I find that gezelligheid is vital in social situations, but that same feeling isn't all inclusive and won't extend beyond close family and friends.
How does the quality of life here compare to the quality of life in other countries that you've lived in?
I feel that although financially I don't earn as much money as I have in other countries, I'm actually better off and happier with what I have. The healthcare standards are very high, and once you can find a doctor who doesn't force paracetamol down your throat for every ailment, the system works very well.
I find groceries to be cheaper here than in Australia or the UK. That may not be the case, but that's my personal experience.
If you could change anything about your new country of residence, what would it be?
The obvious: the weather. I'd add a couple of extra months of sunshine.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Be prepared! Bring all your necessary documents to save time with the immigration/visa process.
I would also recommend preparing to not make friends easily. I thought it would be a breeze, but I really struggled to find a circle of friends.
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