If you’ve been around the expat blogger block, odds are you know Sonya from Home Cooking with Sonya. For those of you who don’t know of her, this cooking fiend, mother of two expat dishes all in this interview. Great recipes, beautiful photos, lover of life. That’s Sonya. Read on to learn more about this remarkable expat-by-choice!
How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been here 3 years now! I moved over here to start a new life. Looking back we left right before the recession hit and I’m so grateful for that.
Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
I’m a lifer 🙂 There are no plans to move back to the States. However I can say with all honesty that the Netherlands is not my forever home. I knew within 3 months of living here that it wasn’t for me. We plan to buy a home along the German border while still conducting a large part of our lives in the Netherlands.
What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I’m a Domestic Goddess! I happily spend my days cooking, baking and snapping photos of my life here.
What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Wow, there is a lot. However the size of this country and how cramped it is really stands out to me. I am from Oregon and I’m used to wide open spaces and privacy. I have anything but that here.
Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Keukenhof really stands out for me. I loved it there. I love visiting the small villages as well. They remind me of fairy-tales.
Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
There is no way I can list just 1!! The flowers are so beautiful and cheap here! I have beautiful fresh flowers in my house all year long now. The architecture here is amazing. I love the cheese, chocolate, universal healthcare, 7 weeks of paid vacation a year, and being able to travel throughout Europe at a much cheaper price.
I’m not a fan of the weather. We get a lot of rain in Oregon but it seems to go on forever here. The humidity isn’t fun either nor is the dog sized mosquitoes they’ve got. Grocery shopping is up there too. It drives me nuts when they don’t restock their shelves and leave out rotten fruits and vegetables. The Dutch pride themselves on being open-minded but they are the opposite on a lot of issues.
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)?
Grocery shopping. You need to get to a lot of the places before 6pm or they close. I noticed everyone is so stressed here to get everything done in such a short amount of time. The friendship thing is different here too. I’ve got more expat friends than I do 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 haven’t had anything too crazy happen to me yet 🙂
What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
I haven’t received any advice but this is what I’ve learned. One size doesn’t fit all. We all have our own experiences when moving here and not everyone’s is the same. Culture Shock is real and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I’ve seen some extreme cases of it here and it affects people in different ways. It’s important to surround yourself with positive people. It can be a lonely experience when trying to make friends but if you find yourself hanging on just to have a friend it can be anything but a good experience. Don’t forget who you are. You can lose sight of that when you move to another country and it can be a scary thing. You shouldn’t feel the pressure of having to change everything about yourself. I might live in a Dutch society but I keep an American home and that works for us. Being open-minded… be twice as open-minded because not everyone will always be towards you. Enjoy your new life. You are getting to see and do things most people only dream about.
Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
Tammy from Canadutch is a must read for any new comer. She is the most honest blogger who doesn’t sugarcoat the struggles of learning how to fit in here. A lot of her posts are hilarious and she talks about what she has learned over the years of living here. If you are a vegetarian and looking for meals to make here then Lizzy from Lizzy Goes Dutch is another great blog.
Images courtesy of Sonya
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