Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Isabella

Isabella has been living in the Netherlands for almost a decade and has been keeping up her blog A Touch of Dutch for almost as long. Like many other expat bloggers in the Netherlands, I found the inspiration to start my own blog after finding and reading Isabella’s blog. Continue reading to learn more about this NL expat blogger icon!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been here for over half a decade, on and off (we traveled frequently for work), for a total of 7 years. Love is a major reason for why I amm here.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
In the middle of all our traveling, we made the Netherlands our base. I certainly have enjoyed it and have made it my home for now, but we will one day retire in America in a warmer place.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I will pass on this question because I don’t want to share what I do for work, for my privacy.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
There are so many… I don’t know where to begin. I suppose what will always stand out, what we’re famous for vs. what they’re famous for. America is Mickey Mouse, Hollywood (e.g. films, TV, celebrities), Coca-Cola and rock ‘n Roll. Everyone knows who Elvis Presley is! The Netherlands is famous for tulips, coffeeshops, windmills, wooden shoes and cheese. Whenever I return to America, I find myself constantly being asked about these things. Especially about coffeeshops and the Red Light District, both of which I know so little about.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Aside from what I can see from the train or my bicycle, the countryside and cows and quaint farmhouses, I love visiting Amsterdam. I’ve yet to visit many of the larger cities, so I hope to find another great city to visit soon for a change of pace.


Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love the cleaner, more relaxed feeling. This goes for everything ranging from bicycling in fresh air to cleaner-tasting tap water. But where I am from in America is also cleaner and more relaxed-feeling. I think what I don’t feel good about sometimes is going to dinner with friends or partied where everyone is speaking Dutch. Although I have studies Dutch non-stop, enjoy using it and have no issues anymore with confidence, I wish sometimes I could just laugh and carry-on with them all in English.

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)?
Learning Dutch. I’ve felt it was important since even before I came here, and I prepared myself for it. I’m grateful I did because I have a much more confident feeling about myself in all that I do here. I feel less dependent on others, less fear, and the more I use it and learn, the more natural it all feels. I’ve been learning non-stop and continue daily, practicing at home and teaching myself something new each day. Sometimes I even dream in Dutch!

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’ve definitely got a few! First, don’t be afraid to ask someone who is speaking Dutch to you to repeat themselves. I have a few experiences, but also I’ve witnessed someone recently who kept nodding her head “yes: to a man who was asking her about something which she should be sharply saying “no.” Second, to the Dutch: If you are in an English-speaking country and choose to speak Dutch to your companions, be careful about which words you say and how loudly. Hoor, dik and kont might sound similar to the local pronunciations of English words which are not normally proper to use. Also some curse/slang words are the same in English speaking countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
First, it’s better to accept from the beginning that the Dutch are not the same as the culture where we each come from. We are the ones who are different in this case, not them, so it’s better to learn about their culture, accept it and then mix our own with it to help with adjusting. And the best advice I had given to me, when I first arrived here, and the best piece of advice that I can share with others: If you will be here for more than a few years, plan on learning some Dutch. Unless you don’t mind sometimes or often being ignored or feeling left out, not everyone can speak English well enough to understand you or carry on a decent conversation, so it’s better to learn at least a little to help you get by.


Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
Lately, when I get time, I like to branch out and see what it’s like for others around the world. I choose Expat Blog website for some finds.

Images courtesy of Isabella

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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3 Replies to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Isabella”

  1. This was fun to read, and certainly good advice! I am Dutch, married to an American and we have lived in several countries (Ghana, Palestine, Armenia and more).

    It is always interesting to read about the observations expats have about your own country. I have learned too, having been away many years, that as an expat you learn to see your own country from a distance and with a different perspective. That's a good thing, I think.

    I can now see things about the Dutch, the people and the culture, that I would never have seen or recognized had I stayed at home.

    Happy travels to you, Isabella. You sound like a "good" expat 😉

  2. Thank you, and thanks to Miss Footloose and Sonya too! It's been really nice that we've all been able to share our experiences via the internet for others, so thanks to everyone for what you're sharing on your blogs as well. It's helping others in so many ways, more than I think we may realize! It's the only reason I keep my blog going.

    {AmericanCloggie: The photos I have resent, just in case. I just read on your "about me" page about your dog Turner, and I got a laugh out of how you call him an expet 🙂 Cute!}

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