Expat Voices: Sarah Fraser on living in the Netherlands
Sarah finds the Dutch friendly and frank but lacking in a ‘think along with you’ mentality.
Name: Sarah Fraser
City of residence: Amsterdam
Date of birth: 25 November 1973
Civil status: Married
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: Worked for Philips prior to becoming a Coach
Lived in the Netherlands for seven years
What was your first impression of the Netherlands?
Friendly and frank people. I was made to feel very welcome.
What do you think of the food in the Netherlands?
Dutch food is pretty basic, but I love the simplicity of it. Foods are generally available in season and not at other times of the year, which helps me to tune into what’s fresh when.
Having said that, the restaurant choices are very varied; you can sample the cuisine of pretty much any country.
What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?
I love pootling around the little boutique shops on the ‘9 Straatjes’.
What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?
It seems that you can get anywhere by bike in Amsterdam within ten minutes or so! Try that in any other capital city! I sold my car when I moved here and I don’t miss it one bit.
I also love the abundance of fresh flowers and how amazingly inexpensive they are!
And the standard of English spoken here is very high, making it easy to get by (the downside is that it makes me lazy to become fluent!).
What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?
It seems that when you ask a question you get a very specific, direct answer. Now you might say that this is a good thing and in some cases it is, but it also means that if you haven’t asked quite the right question you may only be getting part of the solution. There doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘think along with you’ mentality.
And don’t get me started on customer service. Over here the customer most definitely isn’t king.
What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
Well, it’s not so much about The Netherlands but more about getting in and out. I find that the budget airline services that fly between Amsterdam and Manchester (my home town) keep stopping and starting, with sometimes no budget options at all. As much as I love living in Amsterdam I do like to pop back to the UK every once in a while to catch up with family and friends.
How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
The cycling culture is wonderful and definitely contributes to my overall sense of wellbeing.
Also the number of vacation days I had before I was self-employed was really great.
If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to get more low fat versions of regular foods, like hummus, guacamole, etc.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Get in touch with your local expat community as soon as you can (preferably before you even arrive). And don’t be shy to ask them for help and advice.
And if you need help getting settled and balancing work and private life, consider hiring a coach to help you with the transition. This can be especially helpful for a ‘trailing spouse’ who wants to settle and build a life here but doesn’t necessarily have a work-related outlet to help with that.
Would you like to add anything?
I am a life coach with many expats amongst my clients. If you need help settling into The Netherlands or are wondering what your next step should be, I’d love to help. My website is www.happinessexpress.nl.
Joining Expat Voices
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