A victory is so much sweeter if you’ve overcome an obstacle to achieve it.
In this edition of the Here in Holland podcast expats tell stories of small victories and how overcoming these hurdles makes life in the Netherlands feel so much better.
Funny and touching stories of everyday life from getting to grips with the language to wrestling with Dutch bureaucracy.
Small Victories podcast – triumphs of expat life in the Netherlands.
Ineke came to the Netherlands from the Seychelles.
Funnily enough adjusting to the change in weather was not her main concern.
When she arrived she felt alone and was struggling to meet people.
“For the first four months I was alone with my two boys – at first it was really hard as we didn’t have any friends or family here. I’d left my whole family and network.”
By reaching out via social media Ineke overcame this initial phase of isolation.
“There are a lot of people out there and they have been through what you have been through too. It was an amazing response and now I am really proud to call the Netherlands home.”
Learning to speak Dutch is another obstacle for internationals.
For some it can really be tough to make the first steps.
Stan Levenson remembers finding it excruciating.
“When I got to the Hague I was kind of intimidated and I just couldn’t bring myself to speak.”
Stan was married to a Dutch woman and relied on her to do the talking. But in the end he couldn’t take it any more and took the plunge.
“It just made me feel so much better after that,” he says.
Angela Eldering from Australia faced a problem lots of expats do when it comes to speaking Dutch.
“Yeah well Dutch people will very often want to speak to you in English especially in the beginning.
“You have to be very persistent and keep on going and say that you want to speak Dutch. And if you don’t understand a word then ask. I found this worked for me.”
Small victories – triumphs of expat life in the Netherlands.
Rob Christian came up against Dutch bureaucracy. His story was a victory for common sense.
When he first applied for his Burger Service Number – BSN – he was told that he was someone else.
“I was like, what? Wait a minute, I’m me. There was confusion because a guy with the same name and date of birth already had a burger service number. A guy from Poland.”
A nightmare scenario loomed. But luckily everyone remained calm.
“They launched an inquiry and within two weeks it was done. I have to carry an extra letter with me but I couldn’t have asked for a better treatment. They were great about it all.”
“If this had happened in Germany [Rob lived there] you be sure that they would have made you feel like a criminal.”
Opening a company in the Netherlands
Vassia from Greece was worried about Dutch bureaucracy. She wanted to open a company and knew that in Greece this could be a real nightmare.
She was prepared for the same here.
“I had every document I could think of – but hardly needed any of them. It was done in ten minutes. I was like ‘are you sure, it’s done?’ They told me that was it. It was so easy.”
A small victory over preconceptions for her.
The podcast has all these stories and more. Be sure to subscribe to get all the podcasts to date and every new edition as it goes live.
Here in Holland is the podcast in English about life in the Netherlands. How to subscribe.