Interview with an expat

What’s your name and where do you come from? Can you tell us something about your hometown/country?
My name is Simony and I am Brazilian. Brazil is a huge and sunny country located in South America. The inhabitants are very friendly and kind, and are always smiling.

Where do you live in the Netherlands? What is one of your favorite things about where you live?
I live in Apeldoorn, Gelderland. Apeldoorn is well known for the beautiful forests and landscapes around the town. This reminds me of Brazil, so its nature is my favourite thing.

What’s your job or business?
I am a psychologist. I am working online with expats and immigrants in Europe. Based on my experience of living in England for 5 years and now in the Netherlands, I use my personal experiences and psychological knowledge to help them to adapt to living overseas and to achieve their personal and professional goals. Some of the issues that I help them to overcome are loneliness, difficulty to adjust to the local culture, cultural conflicts, difficulty to make friends, difficulties to deal with cultural working environment and communication blockages because of the language.

When was your first time in the Netherlands? What were your first impressions or what was special about that first trip?
My first time in the Netherlands was on holiday in 2016. What impressed me were the height of the Dutch people and the many rivers and canals in the cities and landscapes surrounding them. Besides that, the friendly approach of the people made me to decide to come back many times, until I decided to move. I really fell in love with this country.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands? How does this compare to your country?
The nicest thing about this country is that as a woman I can feel perfectly safe whenever and wherever I go. In Brazil, as a woman you should take care of your safety, especially in big cities at night.

Besides the weather, what is your biggest pet peeve about the Netherlands?
The national health system is not able tot provide a way to direct to the right doctor, when you have some symptoms which cause pain or other health issues. You always have to convince someone to send you the right person who will really treat your problem. In addition, I love rain; as the daughter of a farmer, I was raised to feel happy when the rain showed up. Therefore the rainy weather in the Netherlands does not annoy me.

Do you have Dutch friends? How do you meet Dutch people?
Yes, I have. I met them in Brazil and in the Netherlands, through Facebook, WhatsApp groups, expat events and cultural events organized by the Brazilian and Dutch consulates. Besides that, I made friends through other Dutch friends.

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?
Dutch people in general are friendly towards foreigners and are inclined to help. Related to what I don’t like: in the Netherlands decisions are often taken on mainly financial considerations.

What’s your best advice for new expats to make friends?
To participate in expat events, Facebook and WhatsApp groups, volunteer work and sports activities.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
Restaurant Rechts, a Dutch restaurant in Apeldoorn which has good service, a nice atmosphere and an interesting international menu.

What’s your favourite Dutch store?
Clothing store Scotch and Soda. I love the clothes there.

What do you like to do on the weekends?
I like to ride motorcycle with my Dutch boyfriend and go out, for example to music festivals and cinema.

Who is your favourite Dutch historical, cultural or famous person?
Painter Jeroen Bosch. He is a greater painter and has a sensibility to demonstrate in his arts, in a critical approach, the people’ habits and mindsets during his lifetime.

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city and in general in the Netherlands?
They should visit national park De Veluwe, De Apenheul and Palace Het Loo.

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
I like stamppot. I dislike fresh haring.

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? Which one is your favorite?
Yes. My favorite is Koningsdag because Dutch people are really celebrating on the streets. In a certain way, this reminds me of my country.

Where do you like to go out in your city? Like with friends or co-workers.
I like to go to pubs and cafés in Apeldoorn.

What famous Dutch place should new visitors or expat definitely go see?
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I am sure they will be impressed with the expositions and arts.

Best-kept secret in your city?
It is really nice to go to café-restaurant Babbel which after 22:30 transforms into a dancing club.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew before you moved to the Netherlands?
I planned my move to the Netherlands three years ahead, which was enough to get well informed. During my period of planning I got help from my friends, I read a lot about the culture and I often visited the country during my holidays. Even the language; I started to study by hiring a Dutch teacher in Brazil.

What are a few things you recommend to new expat here in the Netherlands?
To learn the language as soon as possible in order to adapt well to Dutch culture and society. The majority of Dutch people speak English very well, but speaking the native language is a factor which can help immensely to understand the culture and therefore to adapt well in a working environment, for example.

Thanks for the interview, Simony!

Written by Marla Thomson