"i am not a tourist" Expat Fair 2011 helps thousands of expats build their lives abroad
Last Sunday, 23 October, around 4500 expats took advantage of Expatica's "i am not a tourist" Expat Fair to boost their lives in the Netherlands and deepen their experience of Dutch culture."I like the approach ‘i am not a tourist' because I'm not a tourist!" Canadian Expat Timo told Expatica on his visit to the Expatica stand. "If I want to integrate into this society, I have to be taken as one of the people who live here and be proud of living here." Timo, who lived in Finland and the UK before moving to Amsterdam in May, came to Expatica's fair "to get information on living in Amsterdam."
Timo's South African spouse, Lubabalo, came to Expatica's fair to find work: "What I found most useful was not only the information and handing in my CV but being able to talk to someone first hand; making that first point of contact, becoming a person rather than remaining an email address," he said.
Thai job seeker Marisa also aimed to improve her work opportunities in the Netherlands. "I came to the "i am not a tourist" Expat Fair to look for a job. I also got some good advice on what extra studies in English I can do for one year. Since I came here, I have had to start from the beginning because I didn't speak Dutch. Now I have been learning Dutch for one and a half years, and already have ‘Stad Exam 1'. If you don't speak good Dutch, it is very difficult to find the job you want at first."
American Laura, who has only been in the Netherlands for three months, said the Expatica event helped her feel less isolated. "Most of the people I've met and most of the expat sites I've visited are for young and single expats. I'm neither young nor single (I have a Dutch husband) and it's nice meeting people in my own age group who understand the road I've walked and who've made similar choices. I have met people just walking around the fair and via the international women's groups and presentations. I have been really impressed so far with what I've seen."
Last Sunday, in the grandeur of the spacious Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam's former stock exchange), expats wanting to establish their lives in the Netherlands benefitted from help, advice and workshops in practical areas such as housing, recruitment, taxation, education, banking, Dutch language learning, and networking opportunities. The Expatica "i am not a tourist" Expat Fair hosted companies as diverse as clog and chocolate makers, business clubs, volunteer organisations and wedding planners. Those taking to the main podium included stand-up comedian Greg Shapiro, who loves to make integration into the Netherlands fun, Barbara Rogoski who offered tips on how to be successful speaker, and Kazimbo wowed the crowd with their performance of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.
Expatica balances the types of organisations participating to make sure the community can access the resources they need to build their lives in the Netherlands, whether it's finding a house or job, solving a tax problem or immigration issue, joining relevant groups and clubs, meeting like-minded expats or enjoying great entertainment.
Every year Expatica collects feedback on the ever popular "i am not a tourist" Expat Fair from both expats and the participating organisations to improve the overall experience and usefulness of what has now become an institution for expats in the Netherlands.
"Expats get what they need, organisations reach who they help, and Expatica, well we just love getting away from our desks and meeting all you great people and knowing that what we are doing, both online and offline, works for you! See you at the next Expatica Fair!"