Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Invader Stu

Stuart is undoubtedly the funniest blogger on the block: his stories are witty and truthful and bound to have you rolling on the floor with laughter and his self-designed graphics are the perfect touch. Originally here from London for an accidental job opportunity, he has since found love and is working on getting used to life in the Netherlands.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been living in the Netherlands since the summer of 2001. I didn’t have any plans to move to the country at the time. It just sort of happened accidentally. I was living in London and I had been out of college for almost a year. I was still trying to find a job in the design industry but was not having much luck until a very strange and cryptic job advertisement caught my eye in a magazine. It was for a job in the computer games industry and invited applicants to participate in creating new and fantastic worlds. It had no address, no phone number and not much else other than a dot com email address. I applied. I waited for a reply while wondering if the strange cryptic nature of it all could lead to a situation where I woke up in a bath of ice in a basement somewhere having fallen victim to a gang of black market human organ dealers using a games company as a front for their diabolical scheme.

A few days later I received an email which included three surprises. Surprise number one was that in no part of the email did they inquire about the condition of my internal organs. Surprise number two was that they were offering me an interview and surprise number three (which was the biggest) was that they were offering to pay for my flights to the interview location… in the city of Amsterdam… in the Netherlands! Since there had been no address in the advertisement or any indication of its location upon the globe I simply assumed the job was in Britain. However, I did not wanting to turn down a free day trip to another country I went for the interview, not really knowing what to do if I was offered the job… which I was. Nine years later and I’m still living in the Netherlands. Plus I still have both my kidney’s which is a bonus.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
For the first few years I always planned to move back to London at some point. Every time I came to the end of a project at work I would re-evaluate if it was the time to return back to my home country but it was always an easy decision to stay in the Netherlands.

A few years later my ideas changed and I decided that I would like to try another European country rather than move back to London when the time came. However, every time I revaluated my options again the Netherlands was still an easy choice. I just simply fell more and more in love with the place as time went by.

And I’m very happy I stayed because two years ago I met and fell in love with my Dutch girlfriend. Now I know my future is in the Netherlands.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I’m still working for the same company that brought me here back in 2001. I’m a multiplayer designer which means I get to design the layouts of levels in the game as well as other gameplay mechanics. I’ve spent a lot of that time working on the Killzone franchise.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
I would have to say the biggest and most noticeable difference for me is how laid back everything is. London and a lot of England can get quite aggressive but the Netherlands feels much more relaxed. Maybe the Netherlands is not perfect (I’ve never had any problems) but you don’t get the level of casual valance that we get back in England. The majority of people here are much more friendly.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
The Efteling. I love theme parks so when I first discovered Efteling (thanks to my Dutch girlfriend) I was very happy. It’s become a tradition to take my parents there every summer when they visit.

But if you’re asking about cities it would have to be either Amsterdam or Haarlem for different reasons.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe… 
I love being able to use a bicycle to get around the city (Amsterdam). I would never be able to do that in London. Before I moved to the Netherlands I had not been on a bike since I was 13. Now it is a part of my everyday life. I just miss having some hills to speed down but on the positive side there are no hills for me to struggle up so it all evens out I guess.

I can’t think of anything I loathe. I have my small annoyances but nothing really stands out and they are the kind of small annoyances that I would probably have in any country. So I’ll say the one thing I loathe is my terrible laziness when it comes to Dutch. Nine years in the country and I still have the Dutch ability of a three year old. It does not pose too much of a problem since most people here speak English… Then again the reason my Dutch is maybe not as good as it should be is because most people over here speak English… It’s a vicious cycle.

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)?
That’s a tough one. I guess I had to do a lot of adjusting and growing up when I moved to the Netherlands mainly because it was my first time living by myself. Up until the moment I stepped foot on the plane I had been living with my parents. I made a few mistakes at first. I gave myself food poisoning in the first week and flooded my apartment with the washing machine. Luckily I am much more domestic now.

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)?
I am famous amongst my friends for finding myself in embarrassing moments. There are too many to name.

There was the time I had to go to the police station at 2am to ask for a plaster because I had sliced my finger open while making a late night sandwich and had none in the house (Full Story).

Then there was the time I accidently accused a tourist of being a prostitute when she was only trying to ask for directions to the red light district (Full Story).

Then there was the time I accidently said I had ‘done’ one of my girlfriend’s friends because I got the words ‘het’ and ‘ik’ mixed up (Full Story).

Then there was the time a woman ran up to me in the street wearing a fake rubber penis while being followed by a film crew (Full Story).

Then there is the time I was out jogging and got stopped by the police because I looked suspicious and someone had just broken into a nearby car (Full Story).

And I’m famous in the office where I work for once spending four hours trapped in the office elevator when everyone had gone home for the night (Full Story).

So yes… just a few embarrassing moments.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid if things do not go well at first. I almost gave up on living in Holland after a few weeks because I was feeling terribly home sick. If it had not been for the advice of a very good friend of mine I might well have gone home and never come back again. He said to me, “Don’t be an idiot. You can come back anytime you want. Give it a few weeks before you make a stupid decision.” I’m very happy he said that.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
I follow a lot of expat blogs (including this one): A Touch of Dutch, A Flamingo in Utrecht, Luxor, CanaDutch and some none expat ones Ladybird & Butterfly, Wendi Aarons, Little Red Boat and many others.

Images courtesy of Invader Stu

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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4 Replies to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Invader Stu”

  1. I absolutely can relate to the vicious cycle in regards to learning Dutch when everyone here speaks English so well. It's handy that so many speak English, but it also makes it harder to learn the language when everyone switches to English as soon as you make the smallest mistake (or your accent gives you away).

  2. Thanks for asking me to take part in this interview 😀

    Oranjeflamingo – It is isn't it. And even if you try to carry on in Dutch they just carry on in English.

  3. Can I please apoligise for all Dutch people? It's our fault, we know…. but we like to speak other languages. So on behalf of all Dutch people, thanks for letting us show of and sorry for our bad accents and for not teaching you our beautiful language! Yours sincerly, Simone

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