Interview with an expat

What’s your name and where do you come from? Can you tell us something about your hometown/country?
We’re Michelle and Alex, a.k.a. buncharted on YouTube ( We both grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the United States, which is famous for “Cincinnati-style chili”. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Where do you live in the Netherlands? What is one of your favourite things about where you live?
We live in Dordrecht, just southeast of Rotterdam. Our favourite thing about Dordrecht is its entrepreneurial vibe. There are tons of shops and restaurants run by a person or a family, which makes them feel very gezellig.

What’s your job or business?
We’re marketing freelancers but we’re working hard to make YouTube our full-time job.

When was your first time in the Netherlands? What were your first impressions or what was special about that first trip?
We first visited the Netherlands in May 2022, and while we only visited Amsterdam, it instantly felt like home.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands? How does this compare to your country?
The nicest thing about the Netherlands is the ability to so easily explore a lot of the country by public transport. In the United States, you really couldn’t get too far on public transportation and you’d need a whole lot of extra time.

Besides the weather, what is your biggest pet peeve about the Netherlands?
These days, it’s definitely the crowded trains. But hey, some trains are better than none 🙂

Do you have Dutch friends? How do you meet Dutch people?
Yes! We’ve made friends with a few of our neighbours and we’ve also met quite a few awesome Dutch folks through our YouTube channel.

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?
We’re not trying to cop out of this question, but we’ve found that, just like anywhere else, everyone is pretty unique and different!

What’s your best advice for new expats to make friends?
First, explore your neighbourhood and find a cafe or store that you can make a part of your weekly routine. The more you frequent these places, the more likely you are to get to know the shop owner and other locals. And second, take an in-person Dutch language class. Taking a class like this allows you to meet other people who are in a similar position as you (and might also be from different parts of the world!).

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
Currently, our favourite restaurant in Dordrecht is Piacere. It’s a small Italian shop that sells delicious focaccia sandwiches for lunch and pizzas for dinner. They also have a deli counter so you can pick up everything you need to make your own meat and cheese board for parties.

What’s your favourite Dutch store?
Oh, this one is easy: HEMA! It’s such a unique place. I mean, where else can you get socks, a warm lunch, and a vibrator – all in the same store?

What do you like to do on the weekends?
We love to eat and we love to explore, so typically, our big weekend activity is getting lunch or dinner somewhere, usually in Dordrecht (which has a lot of great and unique food spots of their own) or Rotterdam. And while it’s not something we do every weekend, we do love to go to saunas. It’s a great way to relax, especially in wintertime.

Who is your favourite Dutch historical, cultural or famous person?
We’ve found listening to Dutch music has really helped with learning Dutch; lately, we’ve been playing a lot of Froukje. Oh also: shout out to Joost Klein who will definitely give the Netherlands a win at Eurovision 2024!

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city and in general in the Netherlands?
If you’re coming to Dordrecht, be sure to make some extra time to visit Biesbosch National Park. Also, Dordrecht is known for its festivals in the spring and summer. We recommend the Pasar Malam, which is an Indonesian food festival, and the Book Market, which is absolutely massive!

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
Our least favourite is definitely drop. We’ve tried so many kinds and we just can’t get a taste for it. Our favourite Dutch food is hutspot, especially paired with Amsterdam onions (Amsterdamse uien). It’s perfection!

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? Which one is your favourite?
Yes, some of them! King’s Day is a lot of fun and while New Year’s Day isn’t specifically a Dutch holiday, we’ve taken up the Dutch tradition of the Nieuwjaarsduik (jumping into the cold North Sea on New Year’s Day).

What famous Dutch place should new visitors or expat definitely go see?
We definitely recommend visiting the Wadden Sea. Last summer, we went mudflat walking (wadlopen), which allows you to walk across the Wadden Sea when the tide is low. And in that same trip, we explored one of the Frisian islands, Terschelling. We’re planning on doing something similar again this summer.

Best-kept secret in your city?
The waterbus picks you up in Dordrecht and takes you right to Biesbosch National Park. You can bring your bicycle free of charge, and the park is the perfect place to explore via bike. You can take the waterbus between Dordrecht and Rotterdam too! That’s not the most efficient route but it’s a really cool (and beautiful) experience!

Looking back, what do you wish you knew before you moved to the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has a different approach to medicine than the US. When you’re sick and need something more than acetaminophen (known in Europe as paracetamol), you’ll need to contact your huisarts since you won’t be able to find many effective “over the counter” options at your local grocery or drug store.

What are 1-2 things you recommend to new expat here in the Netherlands?
Try to learn the Dutch language ASAP. Having a good foundation of the language opens you up to a lot more experiences and connections with people you wouldn’t normally have. Also, if you’re living in Amsterdam (or Rotterdam or Den Haag), be sure to explore other parts of the Netherlands. There’s a lot more to explore!

Thanks for the interview, Michelle & Alex!

Interviewed by Marla Thomson