Do you find the Netherlands expat unfriendly?

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Photo Credit: archer10 (Dennis)

The Netherlands placed last out of 25 countries..

That’s what a survey showed in an article I read last week:

According to the Expat Explorer Survey carried out for HSBC Bank International the Netherlands placed last out of 25 countries, making it the most expat unfriendly country you could hope for.

Only 36% of expats relocating to the Netherlands find it easy to make friends here and 55% have concerns about the barriers that the local language puts up. According to the survey, expats find the Dutch culture hard to fit in to and integrating in to the local community is far from easy here.

I didn’t investigate how the survey was conducted and if the results are even worth taking seriously. What I looked at were the comments and they were quite shocking.

For example (for more comments go to the article):

I was shocked when I saw the survey too, although in total agreement with it. Born in the UK I’ve spent the last 16 years overseas in the USA and now here in the Netherlands.
 I arrived enthusiastic, eager to integrate, learn the language and embrace the culture – all the positive things.
Five years in and that enthusiasm has been chipped away by all those negatives in the survey.

How come there are so many parties in The Netherlands that are making efforts to make expats feel at home and yet, there are so many expats who feel far from feeling at home?

Personally I focus on Amsterdam and I wonder what it is. It cannot be the city in itself. It’s relatively safe, it’s small so easy to get around, political stable climate, culturally rich, relatively not too expensive, fun to go out, one of the cities with highest diversity in the world…

So it has to be more than what meets the eye at first.

I had an encounter with a Lithuanian lady this week. She told me she finally met people who she can connect to. She has been here for 10years! Only now she met them. A few foreigners, a few from her country. Now she feels this connection she tells me: “Now I can enjoy going to the Rijksmuseum. Before, I didn’t care.”

Her need for sharing and feeling understood was so neglected that it couldn’t be compensated with anything else anymore.

There are certain things fundamental to human fulfillment. If these needs aren’t met, we feel empty and incomplete. I like the way Stephen Covey describes them:

  • The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health.
  • The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love, to be loved.
  • The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow.
  • And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.

(Source: Stephen Covey, First things First)

Each of these needs is vitally important. If one of them is not met, it drastically reduces the quality of your life.

In case one of these needs remains unmet for a long time, it becomes like a black hole that can take up all of your attention, time and energy. No matter how beautiful the Rijksmuseum is:-)

Consequently, this unmet need becomes so dominant that all the other areas of life get neglected and quality of life gets less and less every time.

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