Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Nicola McCall

Nicola moved to the Netherlands with a two-year contract. Six years later and this UK native is still here! She has her own life-coaching business for expats, Live Life Now Coaching, and is a wonderful presence on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. A friend and fellow IWCU member, I’m glad to have Nicola onboard for a lovely tiptoe session through the tulips!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
We’ve been living in the Netherlands since April 2004, with time off for “good behaviour” in 2006 when we were relocated to Palm Desert, California, USA We were returned to the Netherlands due to business decisions in 2007.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
We came on a 2 year contract in 2004 so it’s always been my intention to leave: getting my head around having been here a little more permanently than I liked has been difficult. Between 2006-08 his employer’s have been saying they were moving us and then nothing happened unfortunately. Now we have decided a future move will be when we decide. If we had the opportunity we would like to go to the Canada but I suppose we’re open to anywhere as its about the “adventure”! England of course will always beckon and I would like our son who is 7 and never lived there to feel what it’s like to be English.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I pretty much do everything! I set up Live Life Now Coaching in 2006 to allow me an opportunity to interact professionally in the world, as well as to be a mum and partner more easily than taking on full time work here in the Netherlands which due to childcare, a partner who travels overseas for weeks, lack of family support and the need to commute for hours was going to be difficult. Currently, I spend a lot of time in the car being a taxi driver to and from the International school in Hilversum(we live in Amersfoort nearly 20 kilometers away) on a daily basis so fit everything else in where I can.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
The language. Although most people here speak English you can’t live day to day without being able to converse in Dutch. Also, its much cleaner and maintained than the UK and what I noticed on recent visits to the UK is how CCTV cameras are invading life there.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
I really like walking in the grounds of Kasteel Groneveld, near Baarn. Its peaceful and in the Autumn the coloured leaves, reflecting off the water is so beautiful. I also love the Binnenstad of Amersfoort for its Medieval buildings.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love being able to get into natural beauty on a bike so easily. I hate the rudeness, particularly drivers, of some of the locals.

What’s one thing you’ve had to adjust to since coming to the Netherlands and how did you adjust (or are you still working on it)?
For me its “engagement”. I just don’t feel part of life here, no matter how I’ve tried and I think its partly as it was only to be temporary, that we are an English family without any Dutch family links, we live in one city and work in another.
When I was here for the first 2 years I was very happy after Dublin, but when we were in the USA I realized I’d given up a lot of who I am in terms of using my “voice” i.e being able to communicate in my own language whether spoken or written on a daily basis. My previous professional life in the UK had been about me using my “voice” to get things done at the way I wanted and at prominent levels – I’ve worked with clients such as Members of Parliament and Lords, Senior Board Members.

Since 2007 I’ve felt compromised at living here but it’s getting better as the time has gone on. If we left tomorrow I’d miss being here. I’ve learnt to live with it and accept it is how it is daily, but this doesn’t stop me dreaming.

Do you have an embarrassing moment since you’ve moved that you would like to share with us (an unfortunate language blunder, or a funny getting-back-on-the-bike story)?
Well I did get my bike stolen a couple of years ago. I’m embarrassed to admit I left the key in the lock. However, I was more embarrassed at the police arriving on my doorstep 5 months later to ask me if I’d lost something and more so when I was blushing at the gorgeousness of the policeman dressed in his motorbike leathers who was asking me! None of our Dutch acquaintances can believe I got my bicycle back especially after I’d left the key in it.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Keep a sense of humour, be open and willing to ask questions of strangers, learn to ride a bicycle and learn some Dutch.Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?


Images courtesy of Nicola McCall

Interested in doing an interview of your own? Send me an email at clogsandtulipsblog@gmail.com with ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

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