Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." This cliche has done me nothing but good. Always remember that you are in someone else's country. What is acceptable in your home country may not be here and vice versa. At the same time, don't let go of who you are or where you came from. Of course things will be different, but that's the beauty of living in another country. Different does not mean good or bad, better or worse. It simply means "different." (Continue)
Thanks your interview was lighthearted and enlightening. I am looking forward to transplanting myself to Den Hague in January. I love Holland and the Dutch people, culture and the fact that the Netherlands is so environmentally conscious.
What is it like in your country of residence for someone with your relationship status (married/divorced/dating)? If you're single, how do you meet other people? Do English-speaking people tend to gravitate to certain parts of your city?
Honestly, most Netherlanders don't get married. Most of my husband's friends have registered partners, but only one other Dutch couple in his circle of friends is married.
Now, however, big American-style weddings are on the rise, but mostly weddings are small, comparatively quiet events, and - from what I've seen - tend to take place on weekday afternoons.
I have also learned that, unless the couple is Catholic, it is the norm to wear wedding bands on the right hand, which is not the same practice in the US. The idea of an engagement period/engagement ring is also not common.
Taking my husband's last name was a no-brainer for me: that's what my mother, both grandmothers and the majority of the married women I know did. And I had always planned to do so. But very rarely does a Dutch woman take her husband's last name. Having gone through all kinds of ordeals with changing my name and the results of doing so, I think the Dutch way is far more practical! (Continue)
Toastmasters is all about learning how to become a better speaker.
The idea is that you learn by doing, you get up and practice in a warm, encouraging environment. You learn not only by your mistakes but also by your successes. Knowing what you can do well and improving on your weaknesses are the key to building your public speaking skills. (Continue)
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
Join the IWCU, International Womens'Contact Utrecht (English speaking womens'club). The club offers networking with other expatriate women of all ages (married or single) and has social activities for expats, i.e, Mum's & Tots groups, book groups, coffee get togethers, dinners, family activities,
monthly general meetings and a bi-monthly newsletter. This club has been most helpful to me to feel less 'alien' in the Netherlands. The club also hosts a dutch practice group to help you get over the language problems (while English is widely spoken in Holland, you still need to be able to read signs, news, directions, menus,
etc...). The club is predominately made up of women from the US and the UK, but also includes women from other countries, including the Netherlands. It is a non-profit organization. The IWCU webiste is: www.iwcu.non-profit.nl (Continue)