Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Keith Jenkins

Keith Jenkins, the blogger behind Velvet Escape, has been living in the Netherlands for almost two decades. Another “in the Netherlands for love” story, Keith has taken some time out of his busy travel schedule to answer a few questions for us. Thanks Keith, and welcome!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost 20 years. What brought me here? LOVE!

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
I have no plans to move back to my country of origin, Malaysia, or anywhere else but who knows what the future will bring. For now, I’m perfectly happy living in Amsterdam.

What do you do during the day (job, stay-at-home-parent, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I’m a full-time travel blogger and social media consultant. This has been my profession for the past two years. Before that, I was an investment banker for ten years.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Errr… the weather! Malaysia is a tropical country.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Too many to mention but Amsterdam, Masstricht and Groningen are my favourite cities. In addition, I love the tranquility of the Wadden islands.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I travel a lot and each time I return to the Netherlands, it always strikes me how well everything is organised. I guess that’s one of the things I love about living here. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of the Amsterdam metro and the growing number and length of the traffic jams.

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)?
When I first came here, I had trouble adjusting to the directness of the Dutch. I come from a culture where speaking your mind is considered rude and disrespectful. It was not until I started working at the bank that I was truly confronted with this stark difference. It demanded quite a bit of soul-searching. These days, I have no problems speaking my mind when the situation warrants it. I’m still known as Mr. Diplomatic though… and I see that as a good thing.

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)?
Oh, you mean the time I suffered a pinched nerve in my lower back after sitting at a four-hour business dinner and I couldn’t get up? The restaurant was packed and I said goodbye to my colleagues and clients as they left. The pain was excruciating and after sitting at the empty table for what seemed like an eternity, I mustered the courage to ask a waiter to help me get up and walk me to the door. It wasn’t a pretty scene.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Learn the language! It’s easy enough to get by with English but you’ll only begin to understand the Dutch if you speak the language.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
I would recommend my Velvet Escape travel blog and my The Happy Explorer photo blog. For expat tips and news, I would recommend Expatica.

Images courtesy of Keith Jenkins

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Stephanie Ward

I am pleased to welcome Stephanie Ward to the Tiptoe Through the Tulips Interview series! Stephanie is a Small Business marketing coach through her own company Firefly Coaching. With 12 years as an expat in the Netherlands under her belt, Stephanie has some excellent things to share here. Welcome Stephanie!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 marked twelve years of living in the Netherlands with my love. He is the reason I moved here.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
I don’t have any plans to move anywhere and I always say, “never say never.” I really feel at home here and love the life we’ve created together. If some fantastic opportunity emerged for us that involved moving to another country (my home country of the US or somewhere else), I’d consider it.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I’m an entrepreneur and started my business, Firefly Coaching, in 2002. I’m a Marketing Coach for Small Business owners. I help my clients attract more clients and grow their businesses. I offer a free special report, 7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time at my website http://www.fireflycoaching.com/. There are also loads of free marketing articles, videos, and posts on my website.

Many of my clients are expats and I also work with small business owners who are locals in their various cities. Since I do all of my marketing coaching over the telephone and via e-mail, I can work with people all over the world.

It’s a thrill to help small business owners build a business that allows them to do what they love and earn a living.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Many of the differences are quite subtle and took me years to discover. One that I noticed right away, and am used to now, is the directness of the Dutch. It’s great to be able to say what you think and have others do the same and no one takes it personally (for the most part).

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
I love to visit Amsterdam for a day of big city life. Maastricht is fabulous for a weekend getaway. And of course, I love Apeldoorn where I live. I’m so close to nature, I just hop on my bike and within five minutes I’m in the forest (the Veluwe).

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love the flat landscape that makes biking a breeze. I’m not so thrilled about the lack of patient queuing.

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)?
Customer service is a different experience in the Netherlands, much different from the US. It’s not that people here simply don’t care, part of it is a cultural difference related to the concept that all people are equal. People keep doing whatever they’re doing until they’re done with it and then they acknowledge you and offer service. I wish I could say, “I’m over it” but I’m still working on it.

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)?
Um yeah, I do. I suppose everyone does. When I first moved here I noticed that many of the buses (which state their destination on the front of the bus) were headed to Buitendienst. I thought it was strange that so many buses were going to that one place and wondered where in the world it was located. When I finally discovered that the word Buitendienst means “Not in Service” I had to laugh out loud as well as feel a bit foolish. But hey, I learned a new word.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Pay attention to how things work and what people say. Don’t assume that things will go the way you’re used to them going in your home country. You can pick up a lot just by being aware and paying attention. And of course, as much of a struggle as it was for me, life is much sweeter when you learn the local language.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
For learning Dutch I highly recommend http://www.talencoach.nl/. For Dutch news in English check out http://www.dutchnews.nl/. And to find out what’s happening around the country have a look at http://www.iamexpat.nl/ and http://www.expatica.com/.

You can find Stephanie on Twitter and Facebook.

Images courtesy of Stephanie Ward

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Susy

Susy is a new reader to Clogs and Tulips and – much to my delight – has decided to bring back the Tiptoe Through the Tulips interview series! Originally from Canada, Susy has really thrown herself into life in the Netherlands, even going so far as to become Dutch. Welcome Susy!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been here almost 10yrs. Came for a dutchie I met on line in ’99, got married in 2005 and divorced April 2010

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
Staying here. I’m dutch now, did my nursing degree here, have a good job and just bought my own house. I’m also once again in a relationship with a Dutchie.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I work full-time as a nurse in a GP’s practice.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Weather. Here is more temperate, more even. Montreal is a city of extremes.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
I like the wadden islands. I love small villages, country-side too. Not much for tourist attractions or big cities

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love the history. I loathe nothing really… sometimes it bugs me though that some Dutch people get stuck in doing things a certain way because they always have done it that way. No room for creativity/thinking outside the box.

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)?
Speaking a new language.

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 was working in a nursing home where no English AT ALL was spoken just 6 mths after I arrived in this country. So I was laughed at/ridiculed constantly about my Dutch.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Learn dutch!!! It will open eyes, doors and hearts!

Images courtesy of Susy

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Jules

An American in Holland… this time it’s not me! Meet Jules who blogs over at Outside Looking In. When the burnout of her studies and the thought of staying at home became too much, this Philadelphian hopped a plane to come stay with her (you guessed it) Dutch boyfriend.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I’ve been living here for 3 years now. I burned out of my graduate program, and basically called my boyfriend up and asked, “Can I come and stay with you?” Two weeks later, my cats were microchipped and vetted, and I was on a plane.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
We’ll be staying here (by which I mean the Netherlands) for the forseeable future. I’ve been taken in by all of my boyfriend’s friends and family, and have started laying down my own ties here. Plus we’ve adopted a third cat who does not travel well, to put it mildly. So, yeah—we’re staying here.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I work in a lab. For the sake of my job I won’t say more than that. But I’m also looking to start up a freelancing editing business on the side. I know nothing of freelancing, so right now it’s just doing a bit of prodding and poking and seeing if I get any bites.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
The bike lanes! I didn’t have a car when I lived in and around Philadelphia, so I biked just about everywhere, and I cannot count the number of times I’ve almost been killed there, by either errant drivers, stupid lane markings, and trolley tracks (especially when it rained). I think I lost a few years of my life to that. I’ve even been hit by a car—fortunately the car wasn’t going very fast and I was able to turn away from the hit at the last second, but even so, riding a bike in the US is like running with the bulls. And frankly, I think Pamplona is safer. I think the main reason I like living here so much is because bikes are much better-accepted than they are in the States. Plus the infrastructure is there for safer riding.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Not Amsterdam, hehe. I’m more of a nature-person, and the area around Nijmegen is a wonderful place to explore. The Ooijpolder, which is a wildlife preserve and uitwater (a floodplain, so that if the Waal floods the waters go there rather than over the dike and into farmers’ homes) is home for several gorgeous waterfowl in the winter. Millingerward is also a designated nature preserve—just make sure to wear your boots when you go. There are several good spots to see waders, and during the winter you can see hordes of people lining the Ooijse Bandijk (yes, I had to google this) to watch the geese. In the woods to the south (Heumenbos, I think it’s called) there are several different warblers and woodpeckers, and during the autumn the place is crawling with mushrooms—one of my favorite subjects for photography. I really want to go to the Veluwe someday.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love (and love to poke fun at) what I call the “Dutch hive mind”. The Dutch hive mind is, I am convinced, is what keeps this country together. It’s a subconscious understanding of all of the complicated rules and regulations that govern life here—park your bike here, don’t ride your bike there, put your trash here and make sure it’s neat. It manifests in some pretty interesting ways; for example, when I was in Renesse with my former lab for a weekend, we stayed in a pension house where you could prepare your own meals. Nobody ever stood up and said, “OK, you do this and you do that.” It just happened. Same thing of the cleanup afterwards—suddenly everybody would stand up and clear their place and someone would load the dishwasher and someone else would wipe down the tables, and nobody ever told anyone to do anything. The funniest part about the national penchant for cleanliness and order is that for some reason, it simply does not apply to dog poop.

The one thing I loathe is making phone calls. I make a fair number of phone calls and I’m never sure which language to use when the secretary picks up. I mean, I can ask for people by name and explain myself in simple terms in Dutch, and even understand most of their replies. But then they ask me a very complicated question and then I have to answer in English, and then they get confused and then I realize what it is they asked (after I’ve already answered) and then the whole thing devolves from there.

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)?
Stores not being open on Sunday. You’d think that I’d be used to it by now, and I am better about getting groceries on Saturday. But if there is a koopzondag then I’ll get lazy and not get everything on Saturday. The problem with koopzondag is that not every store partakes in it, and sometimes the store I intended on visiting on Sunday is not, in fact opening that day. I had gotten better about it, but then I took an apartment closer to where I work to avoid a daily 5-hour commute. Keeping track of which koopzondag I can go shopping on just makes my life that much more complicated.

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)?
When I was commuting between Leiden and Nijmegen every day (2 hours each way), I eventually learned that the 6:24 train out of Nijmegen would get me to Utrecht just in time to catch the 7:26 to Leiden. The train would typically arrive in Utrecht at aound 7:23, or 7:24, and of course the platforms for the arriving and departing trains were at opposite ends of the station, so it would be a mad dash down the stairs, through the tunnel, and up the stairs and onto the train.

This one time, the arriving train pulled into Utrecht at 7:25. I’m thinking, Well, it’ll be a close one, but I think I might just make it. As soon as the door opens I’m out like a shot. Down the stairs. Past the people. The tunnel is clear. Up the stairs. Almost there. The whistle blows—

And then I trip and fall flat on my face.

When I look up again the train is moving away from the platform. And I decide that it’s a cookie kind of day.

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Talk less and listen more. A bit of advice that most people everywhere could use, especially if they’re in another country. I sometimes walk past Americans grumbling quite loudly about how confusing everything is. I fight the temptation to laugh at them, and then move on.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
I’m a fan (not in the Facebook sense) of Invading Holland, but I don’t know of an expat who isn’t. I love the website Birdpix—the photography there makes me green with jealousy every time I see it. The KNMI website is invaluable—there’s a lot of text on the site, but the pictograms are all you really need to know when it’s not going to rain. Marktplaats.nl is a key, key website for us—when we need something that we don’t want to (read: can’t afford) pay retail price for, that’s the first place we check to see if we can’t find it. Maastricht Minutiae is a pretty cool blog—Amanda and Dan go check out the places I never have time to. And a friend of ours, Bouke Vlierhuis, will be launching his own blog in the near future—he’s a writer and/or poet. For now, you can see his writing on fictionaut.com, under the name P. Jonas Bekker (all those vowels are a bit intimidating for Americans!).

Images courtesy of Jules

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Sonya

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.

SONY DSC

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

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Daniel Duclos

Daniel is one of those excitingly rare cases who came to the Netherlands as a “trailing husband” after his wife, Carla was offered a job here in the Netherlands! Though not the country that this blogger and aspiring author ever thought he’d find himself in, Daniel really dove into life in the Netherlands and finds that, despite the oddities, he really likes it here. If you enjoy this interview, you can also check Daniel’s blog and be sure to read his guest post on Clogs and [Hotdogs]!

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I came first with a tourist visa by the end of October 2007. Then I came back to Brazil in January 2008 to get my very own Machtiging Voorlopig Verblijf – that’s the Dutch visa: “Authorization for Temporary Stay.” In April 2008, I was back in the Netherlands to officially be an Amsterdammer. So, I’m not really sure how to answer this “how long” stuff 🙂

I never thought of coming to The Netherlands. Carla (my wife – also Brazilian) and I had wanted to live abroad for some time, but it was something we were considering doing after I graduated with my Portuguese and English Language and Literature Bachelor’s Degree. You see, I was starting a new career, after almost ten years as a system administrator. But then, Carla got a new job opportunity: she would still be working for a Brazilian company, but would be sent to work in a project here in the Netherlands. It would be a six-month project with a possible extension to one year. Since that was back in 2007, you can guess that things turned out a little differently.

When we agreed to move to the Netherlands I knew about 10 things about the country. I dunno, they had windmills, clogs and tulips (nudge, nudge), Amsterdam was the very liberal capital, Johan Cruijff was a great football player (forget this “soccer” nonsense: football is a game where you play with your feet lol) and little else. Boy, did I learn.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
Well, our personal stuff (tons of them books, tons of photos, etc) is about to arrive in Rotterdam at any minute, after crossing the Atlantic all the way from Santos, Brazil, so I guess we’ll be staying for a while. No plans of going back for now. 🙂

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
Gah, another complicated question. Ok, the answer is complicated, not the question. When I was in Brazil, I was working to become a University teacher in Brazilian literature. I had my major all sorted out and had been working in a research project. All this after a long, agonizing process of changing careers. When I came here, we thought it would be for a short-term stay. We didn’t speak any Dutch, and since we were both Brazilian, we had no relatives or in-laws or even local friends to help us with understanding the country, networking or anything like that It was… very hard.

I had decided that I wanted to write, but my mother language is Portuguese, which is not, you know, widely understood in the Netherlands (or the rest of the world). I started – because I didn’t know what else to do – to write regularly on a blog that Carla and I started as a simple way of keeping family and friends informed. I wrote and took pictures, wrote, and took pictures, and then wrote some more. After a while, I noticed that people were discovering my blog because they wanted to know about the Netherlands (I was, and still am, talking about the Netherlands). So I thought, well, maybe I can make something out of it. And then I started to study how to make a blog in a professional way and make money out of it. After I started studying and applying what I learned, my blog jumped from 3000 pageviews a month to 50000 last month, and I’m just getting started. I began to make a little money, then some more, and now I’m dedicated to making a living as a creative person, writing and photographing. I’m not there yet, but getting a little closer every day. So there, that’s what I do during the day 🙂 Oh, and sometimes I cook dinner too. 😉

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
You mean, besides the language? Gee, I don’t know. The weather is something that comes to mind. Brazil is known for having a much warmer climate. I used to live in Sao Paulo, which has two very similar seasons, so I think the 4 very distinct seasons is a big difference. I love it. But there are plenty of cultural differences too. One that took me ages to understand was a cultural difference, then to accept it, was the… well, very “physical” way of saying “excuse me” when passing through. In Brazil, if you bump into someone, you better apologize profusely. If you cross paths with someone, bump into him/her, do not apologize and just keep going, like “out of my way, BLUMP”… well, that’s a very effective way to pick a fight. Here, although the official way is “pardon, meneer/mevrouw,” the BLUMP method seems to be the standard. Or maybe it’s just Amsterdam. I don’t know. I’ve just moved to The Hague, so I’ll find out 🙂

But the main problem with cultural differences is that you don’t really know where the cultural difference ends and individual weirdness starts. Is this guy just being strange/creepy/nosy or it’s a cultural thing? I’m never quite sure where I stand.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Amsterdam is my favorite place as a whole. I absolutely love this city, even when I hate it (and there was plenty of times that I hate it). More specifically, I like Vondelpark. I used to live next to it and I have like 10 gazillion photos of it. I love the way it’s different every season, and I love to walk along it, or just lekker zonnen. Well, I like Vondelpark. I like the OBA too. Books, coffee, wonderful city view, what’s not to like? Here in The Hague, I like the Beach (so, there, this stereotype about Brazilians is true. Or maybe it’s just me.) I’m sure I’ll find a lot more, but I’ve been here for only a month!

If you want a more specific answer, I like the bierproeflokaal in de Wildeman. Google it and go, if you like beer 🙂 I do.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
Bikes! I love the bike culture! And I loathe the “real Dutch” thing. You know, “I’m a real Dutch because all my grandparents are Dutch and you are not because your great grandmother was Italian (or something).” What is that supposed to mean?? You know what? Beatrix’s father is German. And her grandfather was German. And her granddaughters, including the probable future Queen of the Netherlands, have an Argentinian mother. So, please, stop this “real Dutch” nonsense!

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)?
Everything! When I moved in I felt like a child. I couldn’t read, I had no clue how to pay for public transport on my own, I didn’t know where to buy most basic things, and if the train operator said something and half the people got out of the train and half stayed I had no freaking idea what to do. It was our first time out of Brazil, and although we both spoke English, we never had to speak it for periods longer than a few minutes. In class for example. It was a shock, I tell you. We had to adapt to everything. Having said that, the main thing I’m still working on is the language. It’s extremely important to speak Dutch. It’s essential, and if we fail on that, I don’t think we can live here for long. Surprisingly the Dutch don’t seem to want you to learn the language. Oh, sure, they say they do, and they talk about how important it is (and I totally agree!), but I think everyone who is trying to learn Dutch in the Netherlands knows the Dutch I’ll-speak-English-to-you routine. Which I find very confusing. I mean, in most countries people will speak the local language with a foreigner to the point where the conversation is not possible anymore. Here there are times they seem to actively refuse to speak Dutch to you despite understanding what you are saying. And I’m still adapting to the Dutch health care system. Don’t get me started on that 🙂

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)?
Oh, plenty. Lemme choose one… Ok, I was at the hotel, having arrives in the Netherlands the day before, and had a brand new 45 strippenkaar (RIP). I asked at the reception how I should use it. They said I was supposed to stamp the number of zones I was traveling plus one. And how should I know how many zones I’m traveling? He asked me where I was going and then said: “You must cancel 3 strippen.” Ok. I went to the metro, looked for a stamping yellow machine, as I was told, and started to stamp my strippen: KATCHLUNG, KATCHLUNG, KATCHLUNG Then I paused, and, since I was with Carla, I began to KATCHLUNG, KATCHLUNG, KATCHLUNG again. I stamped all of the six strippen. How was I supposed to know I should stamp the 3rd and the 6th ones? People were looking and laughing in the queue, but no one told me anything. Ever. I think I ended up stamping all the 45 strippen, thinking “man, this is hard work!” while KATCHLUNGing all the way, much to the amusement of the locals, before realising I was “doing it wrong”!


What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
A friend of ours, an Australian living in the Netherlands, said: in the beginning, everything is great, wonderful, you’re learning a lot, you love it. Then, you start to become homesick, and everything is worse, and you start to get annoyed by the local culture, and then really upset. And eventually, you get used to it, and reach an equilibrium and then you start to really adapt. My friend is a very wise person.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
Ok, that’s fun. First, blogs! I’d recommend first A Letter from The Netherlands: it’s where I discovered Clogs and [Hotdogs] 🙂 Then, I’m Not a Tourist. Few posts, but really good ones, from a long term expat. Then I like 24 Oranges. If you like bikes, check out Amsterdamize. A blog in English by a Brazilian: Greetings from Holland. Then, if you’re an expat in The Hague, I highly recommend http://www.denhaag.nl/. And finally, of course, my own blog: http://www.ducsamsterdam.net/. Yes, it’s in Portuguese, I know. An English version is in my plans for the future. If you like photography, please connect with me via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daniduc/. And let’s keep in touch via Twitter! I’ll be twittering mostly in English, with the occasional Dutch and Portuguese tweets, at @daniduc 🙂 So, thanks for reading! And thanks, Tiffany, for the opportunity and for making such a great blog! 🙂

 

[Editor’s Note: Anytime, Daniel! And thank you for an excellent interview!]

Images courtesy of Daniel Duclos

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Chiara

Chiara authors the blog On the Dijk and comes to the Netherlands, like so many of us, due to Dutch love. She comes from Italy and has been residing in the Netherlands with her soon-to-be husband for a year-and-a-half. The fact that she was accompanied here by her cat, makes her a proud fellow exPet owner. Chiara loves teaching and is doing her best to reconcile with the many differences between the Netherlands and her home country.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I have been living in the Netherlands for a year and a half, I came here in December 2008. My story is all but original: I came here to live with my partner (soon husband), who is Dutch. After one year of flying back and forth between Leiden and Turin, we thought it would be a little more practical to actually live in the same house, so I packed up my books and the cat and here I am.

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
We don’t really have a long-term plan. For the moment our life is here, and so it seems it will remain for a few years at least. In the long run (really long) we plan to move south and spend our retirement in Italy, but as we’re both in our thirties it might take a while. We don’t rule out moving somewhere else, but we’re not actually planning to leave at the moment.

What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I work as a teacher of Italian in different schools and organizations. I left an office job to come here and went back to my first love, teaching – and did not regret it for a minute, so far.

What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Ah, differences – there are a lot. What struck me most is, I think, how organized and regulated NL is. Italy is a very chaotic country, and the simple fact of being able to get a document at the town hall in less than an hour still makes me feel as if I lived in Disneyland. This reflects on all aspects of life here. People tend to be less spontaneous and happy-go-lucky than what I’m used to, which can be quite complicated at times, but in general I find it really enjoyable and relaxing.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
It’s difficult to say, there are a lot of beautiful places. Walking on the dunes in the Kennemerland park, or driving through the countryside are two of my favorite pastimes, but a day in a city like Haarlem is also quite high on my list. Or the Afsluitdijk. Or the Batavia Werf in Lelystad.


Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
I love the neatness, of places and people. As I said, I love the fact that everything seems to work the way it’s supposed to, at least as far as possible and despite all the complaints from locals.

The same neatness is, however, what I don’t like: coming from a country as unorganized as Italy, it’s easy to feel a bit claustrophobic and constricted in such a neat and regulated place. Also, the Dutch seem to seldom carry handkerchiefs, which makes my train ride decidedly unpleasant in flu season…

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)?
I am still trying to adjust to the fact that it’s abnormal for people to meet without scheduling it first. To meet a friend for coffee, you have to compare agendas and schedule the start and end time at least two weeks in advance if not more. I love unexpected visits and random calls, and they just don’t seem to happen here.

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 really had any expat-embarrassing moment since I’m here – I’m quite a careful person and try to avoid potential disasters as much as I can. I’ve had my share of general mishaps though, like spilling coffee all over myself from a faulty paper cup while giving a lesson at University and only noticing when the coffee soaked all three layers I was wearing…


What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?

Learn Dutch. No, really – most people speak English well, and they won’t mind talking to you in English. If you’re a tourist or just passing through. But if you plan to live here, and hopefully make friends, rule number one is to make an effort to learn the language, at least a bit.

Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to to recommend?
Expat information for me starts with Expatica – most of what one needs is to be found there. For fun, I regularly read many blogs and sites – my favorites are Invading Holland and Clogs and [Hotdogs]. To know what’s going on, Trippist is worth keeping an eye out for.

Images courtesy of Chiara

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Jennifer

Jennifer is yet another IWCU member as well as a fellow American living in the Netherlands. Different from past interviewees, Jennifer and her husband moved here for the sole purpose of giving life abroad a go! Jennifer doesn’t have a website, but can be reached via email at bb5210.jennifer@gmail.com.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands and what brought you here?
I have been living here a little over 2 years, and came here because my husband and I wanted to try living abroad in Europe. My husband introduced me to the Netherlands (early-dating travels) so we decided to seize a job offer presented to my husband. My joke (overused) is that we came here for the kaas natuurlijk!

Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands, move back to your home country, or try somewhere else?
We have had a real struggle with deciding whether to stay or return to our home country. At this point, we are here for now but it changes like the wind despite trying to convince ourselves to stick with a decision. It has been by far the biggest challenge for our relationship.


What do you do during the day (job, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, student, etc)?
I work part-time, otherwise I am home with my daughter on my ouderschapverlof days. I was able to find a job with an international company that allowed me to stay in my general field but did not require Dutch fluency.


What’s the most notable difference between your home country and the Netherlands?
Better use of tax payer money – you truly see the worth of what your money goes towards.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Netherlands?
Ahh, this will sound silly as I live there, but I would have to say Utrecht – I really love the cities a bit more than the country or sea-side towns.

Give us one thing you love about the Netherlands and one thing you loathe…
Love the bikes/bike system; hate the lack of customer service.

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)?
I guess the language is the biggest ‘adjustment’ – but I don’t think that is the question. So, I guess the eating habits/food. I think I have definitely succumbed to the Dutch diet in many ways, and continue to grow ‘soft’ on certain things. But I am not sure I would ever want to give up some of my habits/choices that I grew up with. For example, I eat my pannenkoeken for breakfast, not dinner! And don’t get me started on the fillings…


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)?
Not particularly – I make language mistakes all the time. I guess something embarrassing is that some Dutch names are so obscure to me I assign a gender to them which is often the opposite of the truth. For example, I thought Joke was a guy’s name and told the HR person I was so surprised that she was a woman! She wasn’t as amused…

What’s the best piece of advice you received that you would like to pass along to anyone coming to the Netherlands?
Have fun, and the language will come. Also, it is not assimilation that is necessary… but acculturation. In this way, you don’t feel you need to give up yourself, but instead embrace and learn more about a culture.

 
Do you have any blogs or websites that you would like to recommend?
I like http://www.weeronline.nl (very handy in this country!). I work in nutrition, and have found voedingscentrum.nl to be handy and there is a fair amount of info in English.
 

 

Images courtesy of Jennifer

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!

The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of  the Clogs and Hotdogs blog or its blogger.

This site contains affiliate links. When you buy something using those links, a portion of your purchase goes to helping update and maintain Clogs and Hotdogs. Thank you for your support!

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