Interview with an expat

Name of the interviewee:
Jaejung Seo

Where do you come from and where do you live in the Netherlands?
I am from South Korea and I have been living in the Netherlands for 6 years. Currently I am living in Hoofddorp.

Whats your job/business?
I am currently working at Hyundai Motor Netherlands as a finance coordinator. My main responsibilities are IFRS closures, preparing reports and providing overall actionable insights and analysis for our CFO in order to support and facilitate the financial decision making process.

What was your first time in the Netherlands?
I visited the Netherlands for the first time in 2008.  If I remember correctly I joined my classmates from graduate school on a trip to Maastricht and we spent a few hours exploring the city.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands?One of the nicest things about living in the Netherlands is the clean environment, especially the clean and fresh air, for example when walking on the beach on a cold, bright and windy day.  Being able to freely travel around the EU by car is also a major advantage. This allows me to explore different cultures and gain experience in many different ways.

Whats the worst thing about the Netherlands?
Although I am still trying my best, I must say Dutch is too difficult to learn. I always think that to really master a language you have to be able to fully grasp the subtleties and nuances of humour. Maybe I am setting the bar too high, but I will keep on trying! Other than that, the weather is sooooo unpredictable. Particularly in early spring it sometimes reminds me of the title of the Crowded House song ‘Four Seasons in One Day’.

Do you have Dutch friends?
I do think that I have a few 🙂 One of my best Dutch friends is Rolf who also came to Korea for my wedding. We met when we were studying MBA together at UVA. Also some of my colleagues I am close with. They are always willing to help me and advise me when I am dealing with some expat related issues.

What do you like about Dutch people? What dont you like?
Based on my experience, I believe that Dutch people have a very flexible attitude with anything, especially compared to people from other European countries. This is something I can definitely appreciate about Dutch people. On the other hand, their directness sometimes really hurts my feelings. They are not shy about telling you exactly how they feel about something, even when you are not asking for it.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
A small Chinese restaurant is near my apartment. The name of the restaurant is “Fook Lok”. The owner of the restaurant is very kind and the food is also very nice. Many of my favorite restaurants are located in Amstelveen. My wife and I normally go to Korean restaurants such as Namu, Damso and Kaya. Lotje is also one of my favorite places to go to especially when I feel like having a steak.

Where do you prefer to relax in your city?
There is a small park around my apartment complex. My wife and I go there sometimes just for a walk or sit on a park bench, chat a little and just enjoy each other’s company in a quiet and relaxing environment.

Whats your favourite Dutch store?
Lately, my wife and I started getting interested  in interior design and we go very often to those types of stores to look around. There is one place in Zaandam which we like very much. It is called Flinders and that’s also where we bought most of our designer furniture.

What do you like to do on the weekend?
Right before the Corona outbreak, we used to travel a lot to different cities like Paris or Frankfurt. Nowadays, we do not go out much, just to be safe and cautious. So we’ve been having a lot of quiet weekends, just hanging around the house. Normally my wife and I spend our lazy Sundays baking or cooking something that cannot be found in the Netherlands such as Korean style desserts or snacks.

Who is your favourite Dutch person?
I do not know much about art but van Gogh is perhaps one of my favorite Dutch artists.  The colors and movement of one of his masterpieces, the Starry Night, introduced me to an all new way of enjoying paintings. If you stare at it long enough it almost becomes an optical illusion. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see the painting with my own eyes.

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city in the Netherlands?
Hoofddorp is a small city compared to other big cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht. So to be honest, I think there is not much to do in Hoofddorp. So instead I would like to recommend visiting ‘het Amsterdamse Bos’. It is a very big park that reminds me very much of Central Park in New York City, only better and without the muggers 🙂

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
Haring is my favorite Dutch food especially with a lot of onions on it. Frikandel is my least favorite because it is too salty.

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? What is your favourite?
King’s day is definitely the one that I like the most. Not only can I enjoy the parade of King’s day boats, but it also is a lot of fun to shop when everyone is selling or trading their unwanted items on the street. And of course all the people dressing up as giant oranges, that must be that typical Dutch sense of humour. Again I’ve heard so much about 🙂

Where do you like to go out?
Normally my wife and I go to the centre of Amsterdam if we want to go out. There are many restaurants that we like a lot such as the Chinese or Mexican restaurants near the Dam square. It is fun to look around the city as a tourist.

What famous Dutch place should you really go and see?
I strongly encourage people to visit Noordwijk. One of the best places to relax and enjoy the delicious foods along with a beautiful beach. And if you get the chance maybe visit the Space Expo.