Tag Archives: Netherlands

Translations of “Almere Deze Week” edition 28 March 2018

Almere Deze Week is a weekly newspaper with local news for the inhabitants of Almere. It is published in Dutch. Below you find a selection of the articles of this week’s edition translated into English for the community of International Almere. Long articles have been summarised. All articles have been translated with the permission of the editors of “Almere Deze Week”. The board of international Almere wishes to thank Courtesie (www.courtesie.nl) for their quick and accurate work to translate the articles into English, so that the international community of Almere can be informed and feel connected with the city they live in.

The original articles in Dutch can be found in the hard copy version of “Almere Deze Week” and online via this link: www.almeredezeweek.nl . The page numbers behind the titles refer to the pages of the newspaper where the articles can be found.

Below you find 10 articles with the following titles:
1. The undermining of society… also in Almere. Mayor Weerwind: ‘We’re on top of it’.
2.  Almere 7th biggest city in the Netherlands
3.  Council handles major election task easily
4.  FARE foundation’s jumble sale on Easter Monday
5.  A quiet walk towards the light of Easter morning
6.  Outdoor activities for the whole family
7.  Almere Centrum: shops open on Easter Monday
8.  Environmentally-friendly shores for Noorderplassen and Weerwater
9.  Almere volunteers in action for refugees
10. Making an Easter Nest – at the library

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1. The undermining of society… also in Almere. (page 3)
Mayor Weerwind: ‘We’re on top of it’.
By Robert Mienstra

ALMERE – The intertwining of the underworld with the normal world is also underway in Almere. “A serious matter”, says Mayor Franc Weerwind. “The inhabitants often do not see it, but undermining also takes place in Almere … As a municipality we are on top of it.

“Organized crime in Almere is close to normal life and close to the ordinary inhabitants”, explains Weerwind. “There are many ways in which subversion can take place. Drug money laundering, unauthorized use of subsidies, license fraud, ghost companies, hemp plantations, ‘fencing’ stolen goods, underground banking. Everything happens in Almere. Society is undermined when criminal financial flows are channeled into mainstream society.”

Marijuana plantations
“We close about 170 per year…One in four medium-sized house fires in the Netherlands are caused by marijuana cultivation…”, says Weerwind.

Hospitality industry
This is a vulnerable branch of business where permits are strictly controlled by the municipality. Occasionally on the Grote Markt one can see members of motorbike gangs sitting on the terraces. Weerwind continues, “…We make every effort to ensure that outlaw biker gangs do not get a foothold in Almere”.

Collaboration
There is a considerable national deficit in the fight against subversion. There is little or no cooperation between public authorities. “Here in Almere, we do work well together”, explains Weerwind. Consulting with Police, the public prosecutor’s office, tax authorities and housing cooperatives works, he learnt in Ijmuiden.

Weerwind took these experiences with him to Almere, so the cooperation is good. “Where we need chain partners and bureaucrats, let’s connect with them. That works. The Regional Information and Expertise Centre (RIEC) means a lot to us.

Effective”
Weerwind states that the closer one looks the more subversion one sees. So Almere watches everything – hospitality, industrial areas, licenses. Personnel has been made available to do this and the topic is firmly on the agenda at the council.

Politics
There is national interest in the undermining of politics and the municipality. There are political parties, particularly in Brabant and Limburg, that had people with a criminal background on their list of candidates. “It is up to the political parties to monitor this properly,” says Weerwind. “We have firm agreements in Almere when it comes to the integrity of the council…”

Report crime anonymously

“I call on the residents of our city to be alert,” says Mayor Franc Weerwind. “If you suspect any subversion or organized crime, the way to report it is via Meld Misdaad Anoniem (report crime anonymously): www.meldmisdaadanoniem.nl/

“If a car buyer pays 70,000 euros in cash, the car dealer should be aware of possible issues. If a pupil walks around at school with a lot of cash, then the school has to get to work on that and perhaps inform us.

“The residents are the eyes and ears of the city. Safety is a matter for all of us.”

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2. Almere 7th biggest city in the Netherlands (page 7)

ALMERE – Almere has surpassed Groningen in terms of population and is now the seventh largest city in the Netherlands. The next city to be passed is Tilburg (214,000).

On 1 January 2018, Almere had 204,031 inhabitants. Groningen has 202,747. At fifth place is Eindhoven with more than 227,000. The four largest cities are Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

According to a spokesman for the Municipality of Groningen, it is quite possible that it will once again overtake Almere this year.

The table shows the growth of the city, as well as the forecast of growth for the coming years. (Infographic: Research & Statistics/Municipality of Almere)

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3. Council handles major election task easily (page 17)

Theresa Versteegt-Vermaak, together with her colleagues Inge and Jacqueline, was at the town hall early. They ensured that the municipal elections went well, for 24 hours. The first four polling stations opened at 6 a.m. and the rest at 8.30 p.m. There were 98 full-time polling stations in Almere.

No fewer than 1,200 people, volunteers and civil servants were involved in the organization of the elections last week. In addition, another 400 reserve members were on standby. Per polling station there were four civilian members in the first part of the day. The second part was staffed by two citizens, two officials and four additional counters. In addition, around 125 people worked at the town hall on logistics and around ten more on communication and ICT. The election team of Theresa, Inge and Jacqueline spent six months’ full time, preparing and following up the elections.

Jaap Meindersma from the municipality followed the whole day closely, and Bart Buijs from www.dagalmere.nl recorded the election evening in text and photographs. Almere DEZE WEEK and Omroep Flevoland provided a live blog.

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4. FARE foundation’s jumble sale on Easter Monday (page 21)

FARE, an Almere foundation that works for people living near the poverty line in Almere, is organizing a jumble sale on Easter Monday. It’s from 12.00 to 16.00 hours, at FARE, at Hofmark 271, in the former school – De Dubbeldekker. For the children there are activities such as coloring in, shuffleboard and being made up.

The foundation will use the proceeds of the sale to help their clients and members.

In Almere, there is more poverty than you might think. Through their closed Facebook group, which has more than 750 members, FARE helps hundreds of people in Almere.

If you would like to help the foundation with food sponsorship, a financial contribution and/or in other ways, please contact the FARE Almere Foundation by telephone on 06-58822163 or email info@fare-almere.nl.

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5. A quiet walk towards the light of Easter morning (page 21)

CASCADEPARK – In the Cascade Park in Almere Poort, a meditation garden has been created in the shape of a labyrinth, inspired by the Labyrinth of Chartres. It was laid out by De Schone Poort church.

The church calls the labyrinth ‘a symbol of our path of life. Walking silently through a labyrinth, one can meditate on one’s way of life’.

Walking meditation

From Monday 26 to Saturday 31 March there is a ‘walking meditation’ at the labyrinth, every evening at 20.00 hrs. On Easter morning, Sunday 1 April, the start is at 06:30, in the dark, at the parking lot of the cemetery in Kruidenwijk. Interested parties will walk in silence to ‘the Light’. This is followed by an Easter breakfast in the De Ruimte neighborhood center at Nimfenplein 1.

More information: www.deschonepoort.nl. Register for participation via info@deschonepoort.nl

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6. Outdoor activities for the whole family (page 21)

HOUT – On Monday, April 2 Staatsbosbeheer will organize, for the 23rd time, a ‘Doe- & Kijkdag’ (open day) at the outdoor center Almeerderhout, on Stadslandgoed de Kemphaan. From 10.30 to 16.00 there will be various (outdoor) activities for the whole family.

A small fee is charged for some of the activities. Parking costs 5 euros. Admission is free.

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7. Almere Centrum: shops open on Easter Monday (page 23)

Be photographed with the Easter Bunny!

STAD – On Easter Sunday the shops in Almere Center will be open from 12:00 – 17:00. After shopping eat out somewhere, to complete your Easter long weekend.

Be photographed with the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny will be around all day to hand out eggs. Find him – and be photographed with him.

Easter Market

On Good Friday and Easter Monday the Easter market will be at the Stadhuisplein.

Travel at a discount

On Easter Monday you can travel all day throughout Almere with Allgo buses – for just 1 euro per person.

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8. Environmentally-friendly shores for Noorderplassen and Weerwater (page 77)

ALMERE – The municipality of Almere, the province of Flevoland and the Zuiderzeeland Water Board will work together to improve water quality in the Noorderplassen and Weerwater. This will be done by, among other things, constructing environmentally-friendly shorelines.

Noorderplassen and Weerwater do not currently meet the water quality objectives of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). In order for the lakes to function properly from an ecological point of view, it is necessary to construct environmentally-friendly shores. Alderman Frits Huis: “For example, the enviromentally-friendly shores of Lumière Park can be combined with the municipality’s intention to create an attractive natural playground in the context of the Rondje Weerwater project.

The shorelines will be built in the period 2018-2020.

Water Framework Directive

Under the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), designated waters such as Weerwater and Noorderplassen will have to meet the chemical and ecological quality requirements by 2027. Thanks to measures such as the construction of sustainable and nature-friendly banks, Flevoland can comply with the WFD.

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9. Almere volunteers in action for refugees (page 73)

ALMERE – In the week of 26 – 31 March, Almere volunteers will collect for the ZOA foundation. Using the theme ‘Think about refugees worldwide’, the aid organization will be drawing attention to the more than 65 million people who are currently fleeing from wars and natural disasters.

In addition to the traditional collection box, a new digital collection box will also be used in Almere.

Helprich ten Heuw is involved in the collection – as the ZOA area coordinator. “A disaster happens to one – like a conflict, for instance… The ZOA employees receive the refugees on the spot or in a neighboring country and help them there with the most needed supplies…”

Digital collection box

Throughout the country, 15,000 people will take to the streets. Some of them will set off with the digital collection box. With this ZOA wants to give everyone the chance to donate, even those people who do not have small change at home. The ZOA collectors can be recognized by their IDs.

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10. Making an Easter Nest – at the library (page 73)

CITY CENTER – Atelier Zoo Creative will, on Monday 2 April, Easter Monday, work with children from 4 years of age to create their own Easter nest. At 15.00 hours there will be a theatre performance for children of 3 years and older. Both events are in the library at the Stadhuisplein.

Participation costs 2.50 euros and the event will take place from 13.30 to 14.30 hours.

At 15.00 there will be a youth theatre performance, ‘Nest’ (3+), in the new hall. The birds Ooi and Vaar have been working for years, providing an animal care service. Until one day an animal ends up with them that they have never seen before. They build a warm nest for their new acquisition. But then the real parents come forward. Where is their child?

Tickets cost 6 euros for members, 8 euros for non-members.

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Note: All of the above articles were originally written in Dutch and published by “Almere Deze Week”, edition March 28, 2018. They were translated for International Almere by Courtesie International Business Affairs www.courtesie.nl

Our members recommend – Almere Veertje!

Special guest post by Katie Schmitt!

Our experience

My husband and I had the pleasure to be part to take a trip this year on Almere Veertje , and now I am eager to share our experience from a newcomer to Almere’s point of view!

The almereveertje website provides all necessary information, unfortunately exclusively in Dutch. So if you are still working on your Dutch language skills, my suggestion would be to opt for contacting the ferry staff via e-mail, or just give them a call. It won’t be a problem for the staff to answer your questions in English. Continue reading Our members recommend – Almere Veertje!

Kings Day by our Members …

April 27th is here and when you’re an international living in the Netherlands, it can seem like the whole country is going orange crazy … so International Almere is here to help you survive Kings Day in Almere, and some tips for if you decide to head out to the bigger celebrations in Amsterdam.

We asked our members for the best tips on where to go in Almere, personal experiences and stories, and survival tips so we could make a Guide to Kings Day in Almere and beyond!

Memories of Kings Day

Our members shared their experiences of Kings Day – the good, the funny, the cultural mishaps and the bad.  From childhood memories of selling toys, to broken down cars, relocation disasters and even those who were disappointed in the party, they told their stories.

When I was young me and my brother went to sit and sell stuff with my dad. We got up early (well, like 5-6 am) and drive to the city centre, which was not nearly as big as it is now. We would find a nice spot and sit there all day ’till about 5 on our blanket. We did this for years. But slowly the people started to realize that the early bird gets the best buy, and sellers started to realize they would have to come earlier to have the early birds scouting their stuff.. and to claim a good space. Because, Almere was getting bigger every year. Well, that resulted in today people starting to sell from the day before. And although it’s not allowed to sell before 6 pm on the 26th people usually start earlier than that. Petra (Netherlands)

Queens Day and I didn’t start off the right foot. Back in ’89 I was young, naive and came from the country of street- and community party’s. Any party held in public, whether it was the a public holiday, a 700th anniversary of the city, the annual fair of the fire brigade/men’s choir/local gymnastic society/ local church etc., came always with a) music b) beer (ok, in case of the church tea and coffee) and c) food. A LOT of food. Dozens of cakes and pies, “Schwenkbraten” (BBQ), Bratwurst ohne ende…You get the picture. Anyway, at my first Queens Day I left the house, excited to discover the Dutch way to party and try their specialties and found thousands of happy Dutch people drinking beer (Yay!!) and selling their old belongings (huh????). I went home, hungry and disappointed. These days we have Kings Day though, and I have to admit, it has it charms. Once I realized beer is a good companion with almost anything at Kings Day AND I found a charming Dutchman who introduced me to the real thing (Amsterdam), I started to enjoy it. Kings day has everything. From spontaneous street parties, to markets, to gigantic festivals. In Almere I love going to the Belfort Plein, enjoying the sunshine (if we get so lucky) and some music, In Amsterdam I love the market which is kids only at the Vondelpark. Utrecht is also great with lots of terraces, music and a relaxed day out. The fun is starting the evening before though, with Kings Night. In the city centre people start to sell their second hand goods and the first parties are getting started. My advice if this is your first Kings day? Go with the flow and enjoy. Just like the Dutch do! Doreen (Germany)

When i was young it was heaps of fun.. sitting there at 3am .. people was kind and had lots of laughs. My parents car even broke down on our way with all our stuff in ! People started helping pushing the car down to the mall. We’d take food and coffee with us.. my aunts and uncles was always standing next to us..so a whole line of family next to each other.. damn good times.. memories.. Katrina (Australia/Netherlands)

 I used to love Queens day in Hilversum, there was always a Kermis and loads of free activities for the children, bouncy castles, pony rides, face painting, lots of live music, it was always a fantastic day out. We loved looking what was for sale and getting a bargain. I have to say I was really disappointed when we moved to Almere as there really wasn’t that much on in comparison. Rachael (Australia)

Surviving Amsterdam

It’s said that you’ve never experienced Kings Day until you’ve been to one in Amsterdam.  And yes, we know that Almere is the place to be, our members have also given us their stories and tips for Kings Day in Amsterdam.

Jordaan is very nice on Kings Day! That’s near the Westertoren and Anne Frank museum area! Go early because it’s very busy there ! There’s very creative and funny people who do karaoke from out their window or more funny selling ideas and in the Elandstraat and the Eesterstraat, Noordermarkt & Laurierstraat are really easy to recommend!

 It is such an experience, Kingsday in Amsterdam! I really recommend it for that international feeling of togetherness, joy, and delightfulness, it always gives such a rewarding feeling that day  Internationalism and people from all over the world are like brothers it’s a genuine experience and gives hope (that’s my personal experience) for a better world it is possible Marita (Netherlands)

Survival tips for Amsterdam

  1. Go early
  2. Park legally – if you go to Amstel station and then bike or take public transport.
  3. Watch out for glass on the ground and wear closed shoes.
  4. Take small change for toilets and bargains!
  5. Take a litre of water
  6. If you’re going with friends, pick a meeting point for the end of the day in case you get separated
  7. Keep your personal items (phones, wallets) safe at all times.
  8. Wear orange!

An update from our sponsors at Beacon Financial Education.

This is a sponsored post and may contain affiliate links.

Blacktower Financial Management Group and Beacon Global Group announce strategic agreement in The Netherlands

 January 25th, 2017

Blacktower Financial Management International and Beacon Global Group today announced a strategic agreement to support the more than 45,000 Americans living in The Netherlands with financial planning and investment advice.

Financial planning and investing for Americans has become harder in recent years with the IRS & FATCA causing Americans to be unwelcome at many financial institutions. It’s caused difficulty opening bank accounts, closed U.S. brokerage accounts, complex and changing tax codes, confused & fearful financial advisors; and few quality investment options.

Continue reading An update from our sponsors at Beacon Financial Education.

Don’t forget to register … Getting to know Poort is this week!

This sponsored post contains affiliate links to our sponsor – the Atlas of Amsterdam. 

It’s time for our annual photo hunt ! June 4th at 2pm – meet us at the bus station at Almere Poort and get to know Almere’s newest section – Almere Poort! (Sponsored by the Atlas of Amsterdam). This is a free, fun and family friendly event, but everyone is welcome to join in!

Continue reading Don’t forget to register … Getting to know Poort is this week!

Special Dutch Days – Kings Day, Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag

Special Guest post by Michel Daenen of Crossing Cultures

At the end of April and the beginning of May three typical Dutch events take place every year. In my work as cross cultural trainer I noticed that these events often raise questions to expats living in the Netherlands. If properly explained, expats can more easily relate to the Dutch behavior during these days. Understanding the customs and rituals also helps to emotionally connect with the Dutch during these days and take part in the celebrations. I therefore will try to bring some clarity on the meaning of these events to the Dutch en explain some of the customs, habits and rituals that can be seen during these events.

Continue reading Special Dutch Days – Kings Day, Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag

Kasteel Almere – Open to the public!

October 31st saw an amazing opportunity for residents of Almere – our very own famous ‘modern ruins’, the Kasteel Almere was opened for public viewing.

Recently purchased by local businessman, Ton Theuniss, the Kasteel will eventually become home to the Netherlands newest amusement park “WitchWorld“.  Ton and his partner in imagination, Anne Marieke Groot have developed an amazing story of the “Gravin van Almere” (The Earl of Almere), and plan to release a series of children’s books in line with the opening of WitchWorld, somewhere in 2019/2020.

WitchWorld will also feature a restaurant and function centre and creative workshops,  as well as attractions based around the central theme of witches, wizards and of course, the Earl of Almere and his stories.  It promises to be an exciting place to visit!

Tell us your stories of your visit to Kasteel Almere, and what you hope to see happen there!

A look insideKasteel Almere

Do expat women get judged more?

TEM logo
This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot, but only now have I found (hopefully) the right way to put it into words. The question I’ve been asking myself is whether expat women experience more judgment than women who don’t live abroad. I think there is no definite answer to that question, but I’ll try to look at this from different perspectives.

First of all, women (and oh yes, men) everywhere get judged and shamed every day. I don’t know anybody who didn’t experience being judged at some point. Especially when you’re a mom, suddenly the whole world is watching you, to see whether you are raising your child “the right way”- whatever that means.

In case of expat women, on top of the regular parenting judgment, there is judgment based on cultural differences. Different cultures have different ideas of how a child should be raised, and expat women often raise their children differently from societies they live in- which again results in judgment. Schools, languages, friends, the topic of integration are also all common to expat women, and may also be a source of judgment.

Then, I think that expat women may experience judgment on more than one level. For example, they may be judged by people from their countries of origin, their new home country (and by their husband’s country) and by the expat community, all at the same time. Many women, who are already struggling with their new life abroad, may find this really hard. On the other hand, expat communities are often very open-minded, tolerant and less judgmental.

Then, it may depend on your country of origin. So, you may feel more or less judged, based on where you come from and where you moved. If you felt judged in your home country, you may be relieved and empowered by not feeling the social pressure anymore. It may be more difficult for you if it’s the other way round.

Another aspect is the subjective feeling of being judged. So often we feel judged even though the other person doesn’t mean it that way. Especially if we’re already struggling with some aspect of raising children, an innocent comment can make us feel judged and unsure of our decisions. Expats (and women here are no exception) often feel like outsiders wherever they go. Hence, judgment may not affect them as much- because they have learned to cope with it.

So, are expat women judged more? I don’t know. While writing this, I have realized that the problem is not in being an expat or being a woman. The problem is in judgment. So, maybe, I should ask other questions: Why are women being judged? Why is anybody being judged? How can we deal with judgment? And what can we do to stop it?

Do you have any ideas? Have you felt judged as an expat? How did it make you feel, and what did you do about it? Please share your experiences in the comments!

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Meet Olga Mecking, our regular contributor at International Almere, who is an expert in multilingual life in the Netherlands.

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and 3 trilingual children. In the past, Olga has lived in several countries (including Germany, Canada and the Netherlands), and learned to speak 5, that’s right, 5 languages.

She studied German philology at the University of Warsaw, then followed by a MA in Media Cultures at the University of Bremen. Olga blogs at The European Mama and we recommend you check her out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.[/box]

 

utrecht

Utrecht: Come Visit

Utrecht is gearing up for the big celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht this week. Banners are strung in the streets and the Domtoren is getting the finishing touches for the big light show that will launch on 11 April. The list of events that will be taking place this year is impressive.

 

Utrecht, come visit
Utrecht, come visit

 

There’s plenty going on in Utrecht, even when we’re not celebrating the end of a war, but I still get people writing to me as if I live in Amsterdam. While Utrecht is only 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam, it’s still its very own city and a unique one, too. To remind you, here are a few of my past posts where I talk about how great Utrecht is and why websites and magazines and more should pay attention to Utrecht (and other cities in the country) not just Amsterdam. Nothing against Amsterdam, but in such a small country, why not check out a few other cities while you’re at it!

Reasons to Visit

Ranting, You’re Doing It Wrong

An Open Letter (of sorts) to Travel Publications

Coming up this weekend, hopefully, will be some more gargoyles and maybe a mention of the Domplein trees that have pulled up roots and moved. However, this weekend is also the spring beer festival over at Leidig Erf, so who knows what will actually get done. Anyone else going to the festival on Saturday?

This post originally appeared on A Flamingo in Utrecht and has been republished with full permission.

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Meet Alison, a woman from the southern US, who now finds herself in the Netherlands, thanks to an Italian boyfriend. Alison a native Floridian who has spent time in North Carolina, New Orleans and New York, before continuing herlove affair with the letter N and moving to the Netherlands. She is an art historian by degree, an editor by profession, and a photographer in her mind.

Alison writes at A Flamingo in Utrecht, and you can find her on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.  We recommend that you do.[/box]

Lady on bike

Working Through Culture Shock

In only the last six months or so I’ve noticed a shift in my perception and attitude to life here in the Netherlands.  Confrontations or situations that earlier would have left a black cloud hanging over my head for an entire day (or a week, sometimes!) no longer seem to bother me for much longer than a couple of minutes.  Often these days I’ll have a near miss on my bike with an idiot in a car on the way to work and by the time I arrive at the office it has been forgotten.
I have been wondering to myself if perhaps, finally, I’m transitioning through the stages of culture shock.  It is generally understood that culture shock passes within a few months (certainly within a year), but I talk to people here in the Netherlands who are clearly still struggling, often after a few years.  I certainly have been!According to Wikipedia culture shock has four distinct phases; Honeymoon, Negotiation, Adjustment and Mastery.  In the honeymoon phase everything is lovely and new, bright and shiny, exciting and fascinating.  The negotiation phase tends to kick in once one realises that life isn’t actually all roses.  Differences between the home culture and new culture become glaringly apparent, and the differences are often difficult to deal with.  Language, social interaction and perhaps one of the big issues for people coming to the Netherlands is the attitude within primary health care and its magical wonder drug, paracetamol, can become overwhelming.Eventually the negotiation phase fades and the adjustment stage will begin. Wikipedia states that this usually happens between the six and twelve month mark, although if my own experience is anything to go by, it can take much, much longer.  In the adjustment phase one will develop more of a positive outlook and deal with issues as they arise instead of getting bogged down in the differences and difficulties that they would have during the negotiation phase.Finally, the mastery phase.  Basically full integration.  This does not mean losing one’s own cultural identity, but becoming comfortable enough in the new country that they finally feel at home and at ease.I had been struggling along in the negotiation phase for a very long time.  So long in fact, that I don’t even remember the honeymoon phase.  Perhaps my honeymoon phase was in the time when I was just a regular visitor, rather than a resident.  I do remember marvelling at the ING building in Amsterdam Zuid on my first trip and traversing the Oosterschelde and Afluitdijk respectively was an incredible experience for me.

ING building, Amsterdam.  Pic
But, I have so many memories of incidents and hurdles that really bogged me down.  Regular tantrums in the supermarket for not being able to find the “right” products.  Horror and anger that would last for days at a perceived slight from an encounter in public.  Throwing my homework across the room and refusing to continue at the tone of some to the integration coursework.  Uncontrollable tears when I break three wine glasses in one day because I’m just useless and can’t do anything right (that was a merry Christmas, let me tell you).  All things that should in all seriousness be water off a ducks back.  But they just weren’t.  Everything was so much harder.  I would take everything personally.  My husband has been unbelievably patient with me for a very long time and it’s really only now that I’m coming out the other end that I realise just how trying I must have been (who am I kidding, still am!).Why has the transition into adjustment finally come about after so long?  I really think that it has to do with all of the health dramas I’ve had in the past year.  As a consequence of being ill, I’ve had to put myself out there and speak Dutch.  I’ve had to be proactive in interacting with others.  I’ve had to take a good look at myself and my own attitude.Once I realised which stage I was at in culture shock I seemed to immediately recognise patterns and move through to the next phase.  It was like a light switched on in my head.  I’m happier more than I have been in almost four years of living here in the Netherlands.  I can finally have a meaningful conversation with my mother in law as I am much more confident with my level of Dutch.  When I encounter antisocial behaviour (daily) I’ll just think “sukkel” and forget about it almost immediately.  It’s almost to the point where I can just laugh almost everything off.By no means does my new outlook make me reflect and think that my old attitude was ridiculous and invalid.  I don’t doubt that others around me believe(d) that I was behaving like a crazed harpy, but that makes my own feelings no less important or relevant.  Life has been a real struggle for me in the last few years.  I could not count the amount of hours, days or probably even weeks that I’ve spent wishing that I could be in Australia, or even anywhere else if I’m honest.  I do truly believe that there are real social and behavioural issues that need dealing with here in the Netherlands which have been a huge factor in how I’ve felt.  The bubble mentality is so ingrained that it is very obvious that many, many people think only of themselves.  You can enter any supermarket or stand in any queue and experience it.  My husband’s grandfather, who is quite possibly the most lovely man you could meet turns into a shoving monster when he’s put into a queue for free food.  His appalling behaviour has to be seen to be believed!What happens now?  I keep moving up.  I seem to be slowly evolving into more of a glass half full type of person and I’m liking this new outlook.  I’m not walking around with a dark cloud hovering over my head any more.  I can finally see and appreciate my life and how damned good I have it.

I’m going to master this culture shock if it kills me.
Which stage are you at in the four phases of culture shock? How have you coped? How long has it taken you to see the light at the end of the tunnel?
(The original post can be found here)