Expat Voices: Catherine Aiking on living in Zutphen

Expat Voices: Catherine Aiking on living in Zutphen

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Catherine Aiking came back to her Dutch roots seven years ago, and finds the Dutch "educated and knowledgeable," but feels that "people are not happy but have everything."

Name: Catherine Aiking

Nationality: Canadian

Country of residence: Netherlands

Lived in the Netherlands: Seven years

City/town of residence: Zutphen

Date of birth: 29-08-1964

Civil status: Divorced

Occupation: Self-employed massage therapist

Reason for moving to your new country of residence: Family

What was your first impression of your new country of residence?

I felt at home with the culture because my parents were born in Amsterdam so my blood is 100 percent Dutch!

What do you think of the food?

Tasty and healthy! The food is basic-- meat, potatoesand vegetables every day but it tastes great if it's home-cooked and Dutch restaurants are also tasty with their one-pot meals like stampot (carrots and potatoes mashed together with smoked sausage) or boerenkool (kale and potatoes mashed together with smoked sausage.  For lunch, the Dutch eat whole wheat bread sandwiches, which is healthy for your digestion!

What do you think of the shopping?

Shopping in Holland is very easy.  Each downtown of a town has almost exactly the same stores so you can always find the practical household items or clothing that you need.  Instead of going to a big shopping mall like in North
America, all the specialty stores are very close by, so it takes very little time to shop.

What do you appreciate about living in your new country of residence?

The people are educated and knowledgeable - anyone on the street can give you good directions!  You can carry on an intelligent conversation with nearly everyone in Holland because they are all pretty well-read.

What do you find most frustrating about living in your new country of residence?

Drugs and alcohol abuse is rampant in Holland for all ages and both genders.  They don't even realize they are alcoholics but a large portion of the population drinks more than two drinks per day!  The epidemic use of drugs also negatively affects their family lives, relationships and work.

What puzzles you the most and what do you miss the most since you've moved here?

People are not happy but have everything. They depend on their money instead of God.  They are also very bored because they have a lot of free time.  I miss my friends in Canada and the US who helped each other instead of only for themselves like many of the Dutch because of their wealth.

How does the quality of life here compare to the quality of life in other countries that you've lived in?

Very high compared to Canada or the States where I've lived. People have far more time off work; for example, some people can even play a game of tennis right in the middle of their work day without even being missed in the office!  The Dutch enjoy their jobs more than in North America because there is less pressure to perform.  They are allowed to enjoy their work instead of it being drudgery.

If you could change anything about your new country of residence, what would it be?

The climate! There isn't enough sun!

What advice would you give to a newcomer?

Network with a Dutch person to have them show you the ropes. Find a mentor who can explain daily life to you.

Would you like to add anything that we haven't addressed in the questionnaire?

Expatica is great!


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2 Comments To This Article

  • james register posted:

    on 17th March 2013, 22:10:02 - Reply

    Hello Cathie, how are you? I was beginning to worry about you until I read your article. I'm very proud of you continue to do a good job. I miss you here in the U.S. Please call so I can here your voice once again.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;Take Care;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;James
  • Sylvia Taekema posted:

    on 23rd August 2012, 03:27:47 - Reply

    Hey, Cathie, great to read about you! From one of your friends in Canada!