Living abroad: What is that really like?
Heike moved from Germany to the Netherlands and opened up a book...
Many people have a romantic view of living abroad. Moving to another country is fun, educational and a great adventure. But what is it really like? We spoke with Heike who moved 16 years ago from Germany to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Why did you move from Germany to the Netherlands 16 years ago?
Heike: "I fell in love with a Dutch man and it was difficult for him to find a job in Berlin. That is the reason why we decided that we would live together in the Netherlands. "
How did you experience those first months in the Netherlands?
"I was not really prepared because I like to take things as they come. Since I was pregnant, I immediately came into contact with the Dutch health care system and Dutch childcare. That is well arranged in the Netherlands. I did not feel lonely; my life was very busy because of the birth of my daughter. But I did miss my family and friends. "
What advice would you give others who also move to the Netherlands?
"My advice for people moving to another country is to always get to know your neighbours. The neighbours like it and it's nice to have good contact close by. A good neighbour is better than a distant friend, isn’t it? "
What kind of everyday differences do you see between Germany and the Netherlands?
"In Germany, you make your own birthday cake for your child. So I have always done that for my children. Every year I try to make something special out of it. My children’s friends always get treated with a cream cake from the bakery. I did not want that. I do not use whipped cream and dyes. Unfortunately Dutch children often did not like my cake. They always took of the cherries. I thought that was a shame. I kept on baking (picture below :-)), because I want to give my children something from my German background. "
Do you see any other differences?
"In Germany, people are brought up in a more environmentally conscious manner. Here I see children with their sandwiches in silver foil or in a plastic bag. We would use a lunch box and a refillable bottle. I would expect this subject to be discussed at school: how can we produce less plastic waste? I find the Netherlands very behind Germany in that matter. "
What can the Dutch learn from the Germans?
"I think Dutch people are much less critical than Germans. The Dutch are quick to assume that what is being said is true or are more satisfied. It has be 'fun' at school. A fun presentation, not necessarily the best content presentation. Piano lessons also have to be 'fun'. We say 'Leistung lohnt sich' in Germany, or discipline and studying, you have to achieve something. And besides, life is not always fun. Sometimes it is tragic. You should also be able to talk about that. "
And what can the Germans learn from Dutch people?
"The Dutch are much more open and friendly in the contact. They easily chat with an unknown person. For example when you are at a store or bus stop. It would be nice if in Germany people would talk more with each other. "
What do you notice about the language differences?
"The Dutch use many of the same words like we have in Germany. But we do not know the Dutch word 'cosy' in German. Cosy is used in the Netherlands for a nice atmosphere, but also for a nice product. I think that's a good word! The Netherlands also has many proverbs and sayings. It is very common to use them. They are also used on television. The children learn these proverbs and sayings at primary school. At this point the Dutch language is much richer than the German one. "
Which part of Germany do you miss?
"Berlin is of course great, but many people already know that. What I really like about the landscape is the landscape in the Eifel, and in particular the Südeifel. It hasn’t changed at all in the past 40 years. And Hoher Ifen is really beautiful. That mountain is exactly on the border with Austria. Together with the Gottesacker plateau wonderfully beautiful! "
Most beautiful spot in the Netherlands?
"In the Netherlands I have very good memories of Café De IJsbreker in Amsterdam. It is a beautiful building. I loved to see the sun go down, look at the sky, the canal houses, the water ... I also find The Soesterduinen very special. In the middle of a forest there is all of a sudden a sand plain with dunes. And Rotterdam of course. The Fenix Food sheds are a must to visit and you can take some tasty products or eat them. Oh and, can I mention one more? Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar. It’s a very beautiful building with a beautiful garden and a fine arts collection from the past 40-50 years. "
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