Before and After Meme for Expats: Before

Several months ago, Isabella over at A Touch of Dutch posted the following Meme to get an idea of many an expat’s first impression of the Netherlands and how they feel after having lived here a spell. I decided to join in on the fun! Here are my answers:


– Before you knew you’d be coming to the NL, for whatever reason you originally came to the NL, truthfully how much did you know about the country?
Not much actually. I knew about the windmills, clogs, and tulips. I was aware that NL was in Europe but had no idea where exactly. I had no idea that Holland was the Netherlands (although now I know that’s incorrect and that Holland is actually referring to sections of the country). The shame of it all is that I should know more as the Netherlands played a huge role in the development of part of my country!

– Did you learn about the NL in school when you were growing up?
I probably did at some point, but it obviously went in one ear and out the other.

– Do you have family who is Dutch or of Dutch heritage?
Not that I know of, but I don’t know much about my family history/origins at all, unfortunately.

– Were you aware the language the Dutch spoke was Dutch and not German or any other language?
I had honestly never given it much thought until I started dating a Dutchman. But, then again, it is kind of obvious that the Dutch would speak Dutch.

-Have you ever lived outside of your home country for longer than one month prior to living in the NL?
I lived in the UK for 3 months as part of a study abroad program in college and lived in France prior to that for right at a month with friends.

– Had you learned to speak a language other than your own, even if only partially so, before coming to the NL?
French and Spanish

– When you learned you’d be coming to the NL, did you feel it was important to learn Dutch?
I didn’t feel as though it was important – it was imperative. I was not going to go to another country to visit, much less live there, without knowing the language. Plus, I want to learn my husband’s first language and I realize that our children will also speak Dutch. How can I not want to learn?

– Did anyone prepare you with info of any type before you came to live in the NL, did you attempt to find info on your own, or did you come to the NL without preparing?
A friend of my husband’s is married to a Canadian woman who has been living in the Netherlands for 7 years now. I met her about a month before I moved and she told me about the International Women’s Contact Utrecht. She and her husband paid for my membership for the first year as our wedding gift and I went to my first event three days after landing at Schiphol airport. That was a tremendous help! Other than that, I’ve just been figuring things out on my own – and more often than not, the hard way.

– How did your family and friends react when they learned you’d be moving to the NL?
My mom gave us a year before she wanted us to move back to the US. Now she’s starting to be a little more realistic, but not by much (our new deadline is before we decide to have children)! My other friends and family members were impressed, shocked, surprised and jealous all at the same time. The general reaction was “I could never do what you’re doing – you’re so brave,” followed by “I’m going to miss you!”

– What did you think would be your biggest challenge living in a foreign country ? Or did you feel you would face any big challenges?
I was terrified of the cycling culture. Physical activity, having to cycle in the rain and cold was just too much to bear! I was also worried about how I would handle the weather. Then, of course, there was the worry about finding friends, a job, activities and hobbies.

To break things up a bit and keep you on your toes, the AFTER will be appearing in the next post

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