Looking to Hire the Most Creative Employees? Find the Candidates Who Lived Abroad

BY Cliff Kuang


Tourist Republic Cartoon Character by Tourist Republic

Businesses battle to hire creative, productive employees. Management gurus have been happy to indulge that trend, offering all manner of “creativity courses.” What if you could easily screen for greater creativity, during the hiring process? A new study, published by the American Psychological Association, offers a method. Looking at those who’ve lived in one country all their life, versus those who’ve lived abroad for spell, they found that the one-time expats were far more creative as a group. If you’re looking for a creative employee, the best question you might ask could be: Have you lived abroad?

The study was led by William Maddux, a professor at the famed business school INSEAD, and Adam Galinsky, at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. They performed two tests with MBA students, and both showed that the longer the student lived abroad, the more likely they were to solve the problem.

Dunker candle problem

One test was the so-called Duncker candle problem. Subjects are posed with three objects, sitting on a table next to a cardboard wall: A candle, a box of matches, and a box of tacks. From those, they had to make a candle holder that wouldn’t drip wax. Most people fumble with the tacks and the candle–but the correct solution is to empty the box of tacks, attach it on the wall, and make an ad-hoc sconce. The problem has been considered a classic test of creativity because it requires seeing objects as being useful in ways never intended.

Those that lived abroad for longer solved the problems the fastest–but that same effect wasn’t found among those who had simply traveled abroad. And lest you think that there was self-selection at work–that more creative types are more likely to live abroad–the authors took their experiments a step further. They found that creativity increased when students merely “primed” themselves by recalling time spent adapting to a new culture. Maddux and Galinsky hypothesize that living abroad and adapting to cross-cultural challenges flexes your mind in ways that can be readily applied to other real-world situations.

[Via Eureka Alert; image by Peter Becker]

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.

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IWCU New Member Profile

Welcome to the expat club!

I know this is really old, but it came out in the IWCU bi-monthly newsletter The Contact earlier this month. Thought I’d post it here. Hopefully I’ll have something similar coming out in XM Magazine in a few months!

I moved to Utrecht in December 2008 straight from my parents’ home in small-town Maryland, USA. My Dutch husband and I were married November 29, 2008 after a long-distance, whirlwind courtship. We met a little over a year ago (for about 30 seconds) through mutual friends and developed our relationship via Skype and email until I flew over here to officially meet him in November 2007. We got engaged that March and the rest, as they say, is history!

My father is a pilot for Delta Airlines, so I’ve been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of travelling from an early age, accompanying him to work in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, and the UK. Add to that my study abroad in London at the British American Drama Academy and yearly trips to visit our French “family”, and I consider myself to be pretty well-travelled. In fact, I’ve seen more of Europe than my own country. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would marry a Dutchman and move to Holland!

Before moving here, I had visited a handful of times while dating my husband. Realizing that I’ve only been here a few months and the Netherlands and I are still in our “witte brood weeken”, so to speak, I really love living here so far. I like cycling and the amount of time I spend outdoors now. I love learning the language and the culture and really enjoy the people I’ve met so far. I also love how dog-friendly it is here compared to the U.S., and that I can take my dog with me almost anywhere.

Of course, there are things back home that I miss: family and friends, Diet Coke, fast food, ridiculously large roads with signs and signals so obvious even the blind can see them, Bath & Body Works, Fruity Pebbles and other sickeningly sweet cereals, Costco, Broadway, Sheetz, and other materialistic madness. But overall, I am very happy here.

Now, I’m in the process of applying for my residence permit and crossing my fingers that it won’t take a lifetime to get it. I’m hoping to get a job at an International or American school teaching elementary-aged children. I was just breaking into elementary education when I left the States and would like to continue on that path. At the moment, I am babysitting one day a week (and looking to increase that number) and trying to fill up the other days with various activities and people.

My mother and I have an educational business called Medieval Maidens. We have written books for young girls about real princesses in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. About a year ago, we released our first doll! I love to read and enjoy writing. I adore music and will listen to pretty much anything — although my favorite is musicals and I positively live for The Monkees! I don’t watch TV (to be honest, I can’t stand having the thing on), but I love watching “Dark Shadows” with my father, and my husband and I have been watching the HBO series “Rome,” which I really like. I love history, having a particular obsession with Henry VIII and his six wives. Before leaving the States, I had the chance to portray Henry VIII’s 5th wife, Katherine Howard at the Renaissance Festival in Maryland. In the U.S., I did a lot of performing – mostly musicals – and even competed in a few Miss America preliminaries. My university degree is in musical theatre and I have been acting, singing, and dancing since I was six years old. I am interested in getting into the theatre scene here in the Netherlands and possibly teaching dance and giving harp lessons at some point. 

I live with my husband and our dog Turner (who came with me from the US and has been a very brave little trooper). At the moment, we have no definite plans as far as how long we will stay in the Netherlands or when we will move back to the US. We eventually want to have children, but for now, Turner is more than enough!

Luckily, I found out about IWCU before I even moved to Utrecht from a friend, and was able to hit the ground running. I love the variety of events and people and have made some really good friends already. It’s also been a fabulous networking opportunity and I’ve gotten loads of excellent tips and advice. Best of all, it was so comforting to come here and meet people who were going through the same things or had already been there – it’s nice to know your not alone! I am very much looking forward to becoming more involved in IWCU!

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Groomsman’s Wedding Speech: English Translation


The following speech was given by a groomsman at our wedding. It was delivered in Dutch, and many of my non-Dutch-speaking family and friends were curious as to what it all meant. Han van Eck has kindly provided an English translation of his speech.

Beloved bride and groom, honorable parents, beloved family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances,

My name is Han van Eck. It’s a pleasure for me to be present today, and it’s a great honor that I was asked to prepare a short speech in Dutch tonight. I met the groom in 1993, when we started our university in [redacted]. During the introduction week, [Hubs] was looking for a place to sleep in town. I wonder if he’d have accepted my offer if he had realized upfront how small my room was, and how terribly thin and uncomfortable the mattress was on the hard floor that he was forced to use. The first night that week we ended up drinking a good glass of beer in a local bar [redacted]. That apparently softened the hardship, since, in the years to follow, we would visit that bar many, many times, joined by our friends [redacted] who are also present here tonight.

Before I tell you how [Hubs] and Tiffany met, I’d like to remind you of a brief piece of history. In Europe, the Dark Ages were a period of courtly knights and beautiful maidens. At the end of the Fifteenth century, the economy and science got up to speed again and the period called the Renaissance bloomed with great artistic virtue. In 1492 Columbus discovered the New World, later called America. Those who went off to live there started calling Europe the ‘Old World’.

Both continents would never be the same: America got to know gunpowder and horses, while in Europe, tobacco was introduced and the daily menu soon started to include potatoes. We, his friends, got to know [Hubs] as a real knight. Brave in battle – as he proved in the Battle at Steenwijk, where he picked up the fists & kicks for his friends -, helpful (and not only when it involved moving furniture), loyal to his ideals and courteous to the ladies. Such a knight deserves a beautiful maiden. But those are – as you might well know – hard to find. During a long period, a little dark at times, [Hubs] searched across the Old World, but was unable to locate her. Until he extended his quest into the New World, and – appropriately – ended up at a Renaissance Fair in Maryland; a present-day event where the old world is brought back to life.

There he found his maiden, or rather: his princess. Tiffany Raye Jarman. Her love for singing and dancing clearly indicated her noble ancestry. Knight and princess fell for each other like stone bricks.

[Hubs] and Tiffany proved that love can connect two worlds. The distance between them was easily bridged by the wonders of the current new world: airplanes, e-mail and Skype. The first text message we received said it all: “This will become my wife!” They got to know each other’s lives. [Hubs] learned to love dogs and Tiffany knows all the players in the PSV soccer team almost
by heart by now. The distance between them only seems to be an excuse to get married, since we’ve seldom seen two people long for each other this much.

Both lives will surely never be the same again: her diet will include local crisps, chops, beans and cooked potatoes, while his will include TV-diners. Her life will be invaded by computer games, while he’ll start to enjoy musicals. But whatever the level of artistic bloom will be brought into the life of [Hubs], surely the change will be biggest for Tiffany, who will move into the Old World. Tiffany, welcome to Holland, our home is your home.

We wish the bride and groom all the good luck and happiness of the world. A toast to the happy couple:

LEVE DE KONINGIN! [Long Live The Queen!]
Hoera! (3x) [Hurray!] (3x)

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.

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Do NOT Feed Your Dog Sauerkraut (trust me on this one)

Dog food = Good | Sauerkraut = Bad

Last night, we had dinner with a friend who fixed a wonderful typical Dutch dinner that included sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, ground beef and cheese.

There were 4 servings and only three people.

Since we always let Turner clean dishes and mix people food with his dog food, we didn’t think twice about laying the dish down on the floor and letting Turner eat the rest.

Thirteen vomits and a little over 12 hours later, Hubs discovered the following through a bit of online research:

Veterinarians use sauerkraut for two things:

1. Dog eats sharp object. Dog gets fed large amounts of sauerkraut which makes a cocoon around the object and allows it to pass safely out of either end of the dog.

2. Dog eats something toxic. Dog gets fed large amounts of sauerkraut which induces vomit… until EVERYTHING comes out.

However, in small amounts, sauerkraut is excellent for cleaning out your dog’s intestines.

Turner, however, does not recommend it!

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Things I Miss About The U.S.

You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take the America out of the girl

I thought, since my return to the U.S. is drawing near, that it would be interesting to list all the things I miss about the U.S. and why. Then, prior to my return to the Netherlands, I’ll list everything I miss about the Netherlands. Not so much as a comparison of which one is better or worse than the other, but to see what each country has to offer and to realize that there are both good and bad about wherever you are. So here’s my first list…


1. 24-hour establishments The Dutch do not have these. Mostly because they’re courteous enough to think about the people who have to work at these places. But, when it’s midnight and you need medicine or wine/beer or food, you realize how much easier the 24 hour work day makes life.

2. Traffic lights not designed to make you stop at every single one to discourage you from taking your car This idea, though clever and environmentally friendly, is horrendous!!! Traffic lights are timed so you will stop at literally every. single. one. This can make even the shortest car trip last forever. So far, this has made me late to everything I’ve driven to, no matter how much time I allow for the trip. I understand the concept, but when you have to take the car, you have to take your car… no two ways about it

3. Theatre opportunities This is not to say that there aren’t any. There are certainly not as many as one would think would exist in a city as big as this. Most theatre (unfortunately for me at the moment) is in Dutch. From what I’ve seen so far, theatre done in English is reserved for the professional theatres. I don’t know what Dutch schools are like, but even in the international schools, there is very little in the way of music and theatre. And being an American concept, musical theatre is not done here very often. The Dutch tend to have a hard time with the idea of being so into something that you just have to sing about it. So far, I’ve been approached by an international school and a parent who’s child attends a different international school to start an afterschool or weekend theatre/musical theatre program so that there’s at least some way to be involved (esp. in English)

4. Diet Coke There is Cola Light, so it’s not as though moving to another country has me doomed to drink high-calorie colas. But it doesn’t taste the same. The best I can describe it is: there’s coke, coke zero, and cola light. and then on a totally different spectrum is Diet Coke. And I can’t wait to get back to the States and have a big, fat Diet Coke. God, I miss that stuff!!!!

5. Costco  I go to the grocery store at least every other day. It takes me about 2 minutes to walk there, but seriously…. almost every day?? God only knows what they put in the stuff to make the shelf lives so long, but there is a lovely convenience to buying in bulk

6. Obama presidency Although every newspaper on every newsstand had Obama smeared all over the front page the day after he won the Democratic nomination, after he won the presidency, and the day after the inauguration; although his name and image litters the television, radio, and newspaper; although the bookstores are full of his biographies and autobiographies (in Dutch, not English, I might add); although there are shows and songs dedicated to him; although the majority of the Dutch population watched the debates and the election and the inauguration…. I still feel like I’m missing out. Yeah, I really wanted Hillary, but I’m psyched as you-know-what about Obama and kinds wanted to witness firsthand his cleaning up after Bush

7. Family I think the hardest part about this and number 8 is the time difference. The Netherlands is 6 hours ahead. So by the time everyone’s home from work in the US, it’s midnight here. Add to that calling costs and the 7-8 hour plane ride to visit, and it’s not easy. On the flip side, Turner, Hubs and I are forming our own family, which is a wonderful thing! But I do miss seeing my family as often as I used to.

8. Friends Much the same as the above. I am making new friends: Dutch, British, Australian, American, Canadian. I love the the people I’ve met here so far. But I miss my friends back home too. Especially those who, in a very short amount of time, proved themselves to be amazing friends. I didn’t really have the chance to develop friendships the way I wanted. But they’ve proven themselves regardless of the distance and I find that we’ve gotten closer even so. I also regret the friendships I had just begun to rekindle before I left. I wish I had paid attention to them earlier. But thank goodness for the internet!!

9. Roadways so large with signs so obvious that even a blind man could drive safely Sometimes you can’t see what the name of a road is until you’ve driven past it. The line to stop at for stop lights here is almost literally on top of the stop sign. It’s next to you as opposed to in front of you and you have to really crane your neck to see the light change. And the road markings are a lot more obscure. Sometimes I’m turning onto roads that look more like sidewalks or shoulders than roads. Markings that in the States would mean two lanes doesn’t mean that here. You just have to sort of know if it’s a two lane going one way or one lane in each direction. There’s also no merge area when you exit onto the highway. And I’m pretty sure that one lane in the US is the equivalent of 2 lanes here. That’s what it feels like sometimes anway. And the amount of cars and bikes (both moving and parked) they fit onto one little road is amazing.

10. Broadway and NYC In all the cities of all the countries I’ve been to, not one compares to NYC. The sights, the atmosphere, the mood. It’s better than it’s ever been depicted in any movie. I have yet to attend a show at the Amsterdam or Utrecht versions of Broadway. Although I’ve seen signs for Tarzan and Dirty Dancing and the like. But the Broadway craze doesn’t exist here. NYC and a Broadway show are the 2 things I most want to hit up when I go back to the US!

11. Being updated on new movies Movies come out here a couple weeks after they’ve come out in the US. And the movie advertising industry isn’t quite the same. In the States, you can’t turn on the TV or radio, open the newspaper, or drive anywhere without hearing about the latest releases. There are also a lot more art films and international films here. And from what I’ve noticed, the selection seems to be smaller. But, the theatres are roughly one quarter in size of what the ones in the US are, so I imagine that has more to do with space and number of theatres than anything else.

12. Starbucks They do exist here. Don’t get me wrong. But there isn’t one every 20 paces like in the US. I haven’t had Starbucks since I left the US back in December.

13. Being able to just let Turner out in the backyard I do enjoy walking him, but when it’s ridiculously cold or I’m ridiculously tired or not feeling well, it is a P.I.A. Being able to just open the door and let him out and then open the door and let him back in when he’s finished was so nice. I’m sure he liked it better that way too.

14. Work Let me just re-iterate the fact that this is not a third-world country. The economy (though not so great) is better here than it is in the US. So there are jobs and there is work. But not when you don’t have a work permit. And although sleeping in, doing whatever I wanted and relaxing out or at home was lovely for the first few weeks, it’s getting old. I need to have something to do that makes me feel worthwhile… aka a job. I do, however, fully realize that when I have a job, I’ll be wanting back the times I didn’t have anything to do…

15. Bath and Body Works To be honest, I never used the products after the B&B Works craze in middle school. Not until I started to work there last year and started getting free samples and then got hooked and started buying the products in copious amounts. But now that I’m addicted, I miss not having it. I don’t know why since I brought enough products with me to start my own store here in the Netherlands and I have loads more still waiting for me at my parents’ house. They do have a Body Shop, but totally not the same thing. I have come to the realization that I will just have to re-stock everytime I go back to the US.

16. Miss America I totally missed it this year. For the first time since as long as I can remember. The BBC will broadcast the US presidential innaugeration, but not the Miss America pageant. I know nothing about the winner or the runners up and I feel so out of the loop. I don’t even know of anyone who taped it so I could at least see it… bummer

17. Sun and blue skies These things do not occur often here. It does make you learn to appreciate it on the rare occasions it decides to show it’s head. But more often than not, the weather here is very gloomy. Much like London.

18. Cheaper prices Yes, some of this has to do with the dollar to euro rate. But things in general are much cheaper in the States. Most of all, this applies to clothes and shoes. Boots are easily 100 Euro at their cheapest (this is ANY pair of boots) and the cheapest pair of jeans I’ve seen so far have been 50 Euro. I can’t think of the dollar anymore. I just end up converting the price into dollars and it’s always a very frightening outcome.

19. Shopping Malls Again, something we do have here, but they are very few and far between. Most of the shopping you do here is outdoors. Which sucks when it’s really cold or raining. Malls so nicely put restaurants, department stores, pharmacies, specialty stores, and more in a warm-in-the-winter, air-conditioned-in-the-summer, dry environment. The idea of one-stop shopping.

20. Sheetz Open 24-hours. You can get almost anything: magazines, gas, food, drink, toilets, porn. Close, quick, convenient. They just don’t have that here. But nor do they have them everywhere in the US.

21. Sugar that passes itself off as cereal Especially Fruity Pebbles. Not that I’ve had them in years, but I seem to be craving them more and more since I’ve been here. The cereals here are so freakin healthy! The only way to get Wheaties, Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the like is to pay 10 Euro for it at the American store…

22. Baking soda Seriously, how can you not have baking soda?? It cooks, it cleans… what more could you want???

Stay tuned for THINGS I MISS ABOUT THE NETHERLANDS. Coming mid-late February 2008!

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Addendum to the last post

While explaining the situation about the 90 days to a friend, it occurred to me that if you add up all the days I visited Hubs in the Netherlands before we got married and I moved here, I’ve been here 90 days already. Of course that all depends on when they start counting the days towards my 90 and when it goes back to zero. So when do the 90 days end and when do they start again?

Apparently, once you’ve been out of the country for 3 months, your 90 days start again. For instance, I came in June of 2008 for several days. At that point, I had spent 18 days in the Netherlands. However, my next visit wasn’t until November 2008. By then, more than 3 months had ellapsed, somy 90 days started over with my November visit. So whereas we have been counting 90 days from my moving to the Netherlands on December 7, 2008, it actually started with the days I spent here in November.

Which means that we now have until February 16th as opposed to March 7th.

Last night, we payed a visit to the IND and were told that if we stick to our original plan of my leaving for the US on February 19th and staying 1-3 weeks (or until the marriage is legalized and I’m ready to apply for the residence permit), we will be fine. In short, Hubs and I had quite a panic yesterday, but fortunately nothing has changed.

On another note, we have been married for 2 months now and are just as happy as we were 2 months ago!!

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That Time I was Married… But Not

C’mon, Holland, make up your mind! Am I married or not?

To fill everyone in…

Our marriage is not recognized here in Holland. So, here, we’re just friends living together. ‘”Partners”as the Dutch refer to it. In order to get the marriage legalized, we need an apostille stamp from the Secretary of State (as in the one in Maryland, not Condy Rice or — in a few days — Hillary).

After a long journey (perhaps I shouldn’t have had the post forward all mail to “Tiffany Jarman” to the Netherlands), we have said stamp and Hubs went in this past Thursday to the gemeente (city hall) to have our marriage certificate — complete with apostille stamp — legalized. Here’s where the you-know-what hit the fan.

Right now, Gemeente Utrecht is back-logged where marriages of Dutch to non-Dutch citizens are concerned. Whereas it usually only takes a few weeks to complete the process, it may now take a few months. After his visit to the gemeentehuis, Hubs stopped by the Immigration Department where he learned the following:

Every 180 days, a foreigner is allowed to stay 90 days in Holland, spread out or consecutively, on a tourist visa. Once those 90 days have accumulated, that person is not allowed back into the country for 3 months.

We did not know this. My 90 days expire on March 7th. At this point, we have no idea when the marriage will be legalized, but if I hang out here and it takes longer than March 7th, I have to leave my home, husband, and dog for 3 months. To avoid this, I’m coming home to the U.S. and staying until Hubs gets our marriage certificate back from city hall and we have the go-ahead to apply for my residence permit.

Once we’ve applied for my residence permit, I can stay here indefinitely (well, unless they don’t approve me, at any rate). But we can’t apply unless we’re both single (which we’re not in Maryland) or our marriage is recognized in the Netherlands.

So I have plans to return in February to avoid the expiration of my 90 days, but no return plans until I hear from Hubs that the gemeente has recognized our marriage in Holland. Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll finish before long!

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We’re home!

Turning a new situation into a home

The three of us have been in the Netherlands for 4 days! Hubs is back at work and adjusting from single-life to married-and-has-a-dog-life.

Tiffany has been working on Wedding thank yous, unpacking and organizing, and trying to fill her days while Hubs is at work. As far as she’s concerned, she can’t get a job soon enough! She went to her first IWCU event and had a wonderful time!

We’re sure Turner has no idea where he is or what’s going on, but he’s being a real trooper! He follows his mommy around all day and is beginning to cling to Daddy as well. He’s definitely getting used to Hubs and picks him out at the train station way before Tiffany does!

We’re hoping to get the Christmas decorations up soon and to get started on Christmas cards. Keep checking back for pictures and more blog entries!

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A New Home

New home Christmas
Christmas in my new home

Hubs, Turner, and I have been in the Netherlands for 4 days! Four days as a new family. Four days in our new home (mine and Turner’s new home, anyway).

Been busy working on wedding thank-yous, unpacking and organizing, and generally trying to fill my days in my new country while Hubs is at work. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t get a job soon enough… Went to my first International Women’s Contact Utrecht event, a games night, and had a wonderful time!

Hubs is balancing work with adjusting from the single life to married-with-a-dog life.

We’re sure Turner has no idea where he is or what’s going on, but he’s being a real trooper! He follows me around all day and is beginning to cling to Hubs as well. He’s definitely getting used to Hubs and picks him out at the train station way before I do when we meet him there after his commute back from work.

Next it’s Holiday cards and getting ready for Christmas. Looks like expat life is ideal for training housewives. *sigh*

What was your first impression of your new home? How was the initial adjustment process for you? I’d love to hear your story!

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