In the second episode of ‘It Works on My Machine’ we are joined by our colleagues Julia, Vamsi, Feyza, Kerem, and Umut to discuss why they decided to move to the Netherlands to work at spriteCloud.
In part three of our podcast episode of “Moving to the Netherlands to work in Tech” we discuss many elements of Dutch culture with our guests.
You’ll learn what to expect regarding the Dutch weather and how to brave the cold winds. Kerem will unveil his favourite Dutch food specialties. You’ll hear what the best method is to learn Dutch from Julia. Vamsi will tell you about his journey to becoming a Dutch citizen. And your hosts, Marion and Travis, will give you practical tips on cycling and public transportation. After listening to this episode, you’ll be ready to explore your new home or feel more prepared to make the big move to the Netherlands.
- Useful weather apps
https://www.buienradar.nl/ and https://www.buienalarm.nl/
- Amsterdam has among the highest parking fees in the world (in Dutch)
- Using your foreign driving license in the Netherlands
- Dutch urban planning has made a bikers paradise which also improves road safety for all
https://youtu.be/Ku9ZlG8FYGc and https://youtu.be/d8RRE2rDw4k
- Applying for Dutch citizenship
- Eating haring
- Meeting new people in Amsterdam with meetup possibilities
- The Amsterdam subreddit
Travis: I tell everyone who’s new to the country about my Dutch survival pack. So what my Dutch survival pack basically consists of is a backpack with an umbrella, a book, a bottle of water, a rain jacket, and some food. The reason for this is whether you’re biking or you’re taking public transport, you never know if it’s going to rain or you never know exactly how cold or windy it’ll be. But also if you’re taking public transport, particularly, you never know if you’re going to potentially miss a connection. So you need to book to keep you entertained and you need some food. To keep you from getting hangry.
Marion: Welcome to “It Works on My Machine”. We have made it to the third part of our episode on moving to the Netherlands. And it’s time to talk about what living here looks like once you’ve settled in. Today, we’re talking about Dutch culture. That means we will explore topics like the weather (good and bad), but also making friends in your new home, food transportation (in particular cycling), and learning Dutch.
I’m your host Marion and just as with part one and two, I’ll be joined by my co-host Travis, who just introduced you to his Dutch survival pack and five of our colleagues, Feyza, Kerem, Julia, Vamsi, and Umut to discuss their experiences, living in the Netherlands.
Marion: In many countries, the weather is just a chit-chat topic like any other, in the Netherlands it’s amongst the most discussed subjects. The surprising number of Dutch words that describe all different sorts of rain shows how important this topic is.
Marion: What did our newcomers think about Dutch weather? Let’s find out.
Umut: We thought it was going to be so cold, like in Canada because it’s so much more Northern compared to where we live and I’m from Kas, the most Southwestern part of Turkey. Like it’s one of the warmest parts of Turkey and even coming to Istanbul, it was a great challenge for me because it’s so much colder and I got sick so often for a few years. And I was like, that’s going to be so hard in the Netherlands for me to get used to the cold. And turns out, Istanbul is colder. The Netherlands. it’s not that cold. Istanbul’s weather, it feels so much colder. We came back to Turkey last week. From the moment we landed it was so much colder compared to the Netherlands. And I was so surprised.
Marion: It’s funny that you mentioned Canada because I have lived in Montreal for about a year. And I’ve experienced minus 30 degrees, the weather you get in the Netherlands is nowhere close to that.
Travis: Yeah. It doesn’t usually dip below freezing all that time, to be honest. So most of the winters in the last 10 years have been around like five degrees as like the average for the day. It’s actually not that common for it to get below freezing here.
And that’s because we are on the coast and the coast tempers and moderates the weather. So it doesn’t get as cold, but it also doesn’t get so hot. So in Germany, for example, you may be further south, but it can be like 30 degrees in the summer and minus 10 or 15 in the winter.
Marion: I think the last time it snowed, correct me if I’m wrong, was that last year?
Travis: Yeah. When the canals froze. Yeah, I think if you take every five years, it may snow twice, more or less.
Marion: I remember a not so funny experience when it snowed and I had to come back from Alkmaar to Amsterdam, which usually is half an hour by train. And it took me close to half a day or something like that.
Umut: Whoa, really interesting.
Travis: Yeah. You gotta be really careful with your planning when you hear of heavy snows in the forecast. Because the trains can literally just not cope with it. And I remember I worked somewhere once and they’re like, “yeah, there’s a forecast for lots of snow later in the day. You’re allowed to go home. We’re closing the shop two hours early so everyone can make sure they get home.”
Umut: That’s cool.
Travis: Yeah, it’s cool. But it’s also kind of like, Jesus guys, come on, like your neighbours are Germany and Switzerland’s not so far away. Surely you can learn how to cope with this stuff.
Umut: Yeah, it depends on, I guess again, some countries where it doesn’t snow, all that often, doesn’t snow that severely they choose not to invest in the infrastructure to reinforce that department.
Travis: Yeah. That’s exactly what it is, to be honest.
Marion: I remember this tragically funny announcement on that day, I was trying to come back from Alkmaar when the train conductor said something like “this train is going until Amsterdam central. If you consider going any further than that, we would recommend you take a hotel and you stay for the night”.
Umut: Yeah. This is something special to the Netherlands. I guess you wouldn’t hear that Turkey.
Marion:Yeah, it is pretty exceptional though. The typical winter weather here is grey, wet and around five degrees. So as long as you don’t plan to travel on these rare days, you’ll be fine.
Julia, you have been in the Netherlands for many years. In Ukraine, you have warm summers and really cold winters. Can you give us a glimpse into your experiences with Dutch weather?
Julia: I would be happier somewhere in the south, probably in Portugal or somewhere in Spain, because I really love the sun and the weather, the wind can be very depressing. Also one of the big issues is that you don’t know how to dress because it seems like it’s not cold, but then you go out and the wind is so cold and strong.
And the moisture of the air is so big that it’s just freezing. You feel it like minus 30, not plus 10. It’s really weird. And it’s really tough to adjust. And then you go on a bicycle and you get all really warm and then you step off and you’re really cold and yeah, it’s all about balance, balance, balance.
And in all the 13 years I’ve been living here, I still did not find a way to dress.
Marion: It’s funny you mention that because my boyfriend who’s Dutch also makes fun of me because I’m always ready for all the possible weather changes in the whole day when I go out and he finds that very fun to watch.
Julia: It is very painful to do.
Travis: I tell everyone who’s new to the country about my Dutch survival pack. So what my Dutch survival pack basically consists of is a backpack with an umbrella, a book, a bottle of water, a rain jacket, and some food. The reason for this is whether you’re biking or you’re taking public transport, you never know if it’s going to rain or you never know exactly how cold or windy it’ll be. But also if you’re taking public transport, particularly, you never know if you’re going to potentially miss a connection. So you need to book to keep you entertained and you need some food. To keep you from getting hangry. Uh for those of you who don’t know what hangry is, it’s getting angry because you’re hungry.
Travis: It’s basically been autumn and winter since you arrived in the Netherlands, Kerem, do you feel that you have been prepared in terms of clothing?
Kerem: Yeah. I bought a winter jacket last year before coming here. I more or less knew that I’m going to end up somewhere cold in the Europe. So yeah, I have a very thick jacket for winter and also I have another. I use hoodies with zips because, I feel hot and cold very often, especially when I’m at the office.
So they are pretty useful.
Travis: I think as a general word of advice to anybody, it’s all about layering. So multiple layers. And so you can take them off.
Kerem: Multiple layers.
Marion: How did you cope with the weather in those first few months Umut?
Umut: Yeah, I missed the sun, but maybe that’s a good thing. Sometimes when you’re in a southern place, the sun poaches you all day long and you feel like you don’t like It anymore, but here you can start to appreciate it a little more. Although it doesn’t bring a lot of warmth. It brings back the great view and makes you feel nice.
I like that.
Travis: Fair enough. Kerem how have you dealt with the winter? Cause here, obviously during the winter, it’s dark for longer. Because we’re higher in latitude. How has that felt so far?
Kerem: That’s a very good question. I try to wake up a little bit later than I used to. We also have a flexible start to our day at 9:00 or 9:30, if you’re working for a client, that is okay with that, maybe you can start at 10:00. That’s nice and flexible to deal with or the short day hours and for the evening.
There is another positive side of that when it comes to spring, you can have some light for all day, I’m really looking forward to that.
Travis: So I think that’s one thing that I like here, cause you actually have seasons. So there are people from a lot of different places, especially really warm places where it’s all kind of warm just most of the time. And the seasons aren’t so big but here you notice summer and you notice winter.
It’s not too hot so it’s uncomfortable. For example, not like Greece or something. And the Dutch, because they are stuck indoors in the rainy cold weather when the sun is out and it’s great weather, everyone is just eating outside, drinking outside, going to the parks, meeting up with friends.
I try not to leave the Netherlands during the summer too much. Because, for example, the sun is up at 6 in the morning and it goes down at 9 or 10, which means you have really long days.
I find that the community and the people who are out are really looking forward to it. So there’s a different atmosphere than you’d normally have. All the bars and restaurants have outdoor seating on the terraces. You get this really long, mild summer with an opportunity to just really enjoy it before you go back and hide for the winter.
And I think it really creates a really good atmosphere and a really good vibe for the city, which is why this is the city I live in because I love that, when it’s summer.
Marion: Totally. And I find there’s an interesting phenomenon of people just migrating to the terraces and sitting there when there’s the tiny little bit of sun and you can just see on their faces that they’re really soaking it in.
Travis: Yeah. It’s like how a sunflower follows the sun in the sky.
Travis: Typically when you travel around the city, how do you prefer to get by? Walking, cycling, public transport or driving?
Vamsi: Anything less than 10 kilometres, I prefer going on the bike because that’s what I’m more used to but anything above that, I try to go by public transport.
Kerem: I live seven or eight minutes by bike from the spriteCloud office. So I’m going to the office by bike. Besides that, when I want to go to the city centre, there’s a stop next to ours. Trams or buses here are pretty decent, I think. It’s easy to come here, to commute with the public transportation is not very crowded.
Nobody is pushing you towards somewhere. That’s pretty easy to do here. So I haven’t bought a car yet. I’m still thinking of it by the way, even though its public transportation is good. If you are in a little bit rush, or if you want to commute faster than public transportation, it’s always a need, but not for the centre. Because of high parking fees.
Travis: Yes. Though I do have a bit of a trick for that. There are a lot of car sharing apps now from Sixt or ShareNow. Basically, you reserve 15 minutes in advance. You pick it up, drive it to where you need it, and then you park it. So if you want to get somewhere quick and you just hop in an electric car, drive to the city centre, because they’re electric parking is free.
If I know I need to go into the city and I’m going to be there for a few hours, I will typically get one of those cars. So I don’t have to pay for 6 euros an hour parking in the city with my own car. And if it takes you 15 minutes to get to the city, you pay between 5 to 6 euros for using that car. So it’s actually not too bad.
Kerem: Yes, that’s another way to do that. And as a note to colleagues who are planning to come to the Netherlands from the other side of the European Union, most of the car sharing companies will not accept your driving license. Which happened to me, only Fetch accepted my driving license. And my process is still ongoing with Sixt for like the last three months maybe. So I’m waiting for my new license.
Travis: That is a good one. I did not know that.
Marion: Let’s provide some extra context for our listeners. When you move to the Netherlands, you might have to exchange your driver’s license for a Dutch one. That’s what Kerem had to do. If you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, you can keep using your license for 15 years.
Otherwise, you need to exchange your license for a Dutch one within six months of your registration.
Depending on the country that issued your license, you might have to pass a driving exam in the Netherlands. There is a link in the show notes explaining this, check it out.
Travis, you recently bought a car. How is it owning one in the Netherlands and specifically in a city like Amsterdam?
Travis: Well, if we compare it with America, it’s definitely more expensive. I would say, being in a capital city of a well-developed country, it’s going to be expensive anyway. So first of all, you have, I think the biggest expense is parking. So in the city you live in, you can typically get a parking permit, and depending on where you are, how many there are available in Amsterdam there can be really long wait times for them. I think here in the Diemen, it was two years for about 150 euros. So it’s not too crazy expensive. And that means I can park anywhere in our small city of 30,000 people. So it’s not too bad. Fuel is expensive right now.
It’s about 2 euros and 9 cents a litre. So for European countries we have one of the highest fuel prices, but that’s also because it’s really heavily taxed. So all those beautiful roads we get to drive on are paid by fuel taxes as well. In terms of the insurance, I think we pay roughly about 60 to 70 euros per quarter, on our insurance for the car.
And, obviously, car taxes are also maybe 15 euros a month, I think. And then you have to buy a car. We got a secondhand car for 3000 euros or something that’s old and whatnot. We still have yet to do any servicing on it. I expect that’s probably going to be probably about 400 bucks or so.
So that’s more or less the price of a car. If you get a new one and you live in the city centre and want to park it there, it’s going to be expensive. But if you have an area with a bit more room, when you go for an older car, it’s not too bad.
Marion: And if you want to park it in the city centre and drive in the city centre, you might have to be attentive to environmental norms. I know from my father who has a van, that he cannot come into the city of Amsterdam because it’s an old diesel. So that’s something to be mindful of. If you want to move to the Netherlands with your car.
Travis: Yeah. So that’s typically, if a car is older than 2004, I believe. And if it’s a diesel, there is the environmental zone around the city centre, just to make sure pollution is lowered.
Generally, the Dutch government is really trying to reduce the number of cars and, understandably so, we don’t have a lot of room. So they’re investing more in public transportation, I guess share schemes as well and biking infrastructure. They are slowly starting to remove car parking spots to try to make underground parking, which is really expensive.
I think a parking spot in a recently constructed underground parking de Pijp area goes for about 80,000 euros to purchase it. So yeah I think, don’t buy a car unless you really need it. Most of the time, share cars, trains, trams and biking, you can get pretty much anywhere with that.
And it’s also nicer for you.
Travis: From my experience of moving to the Netherlands, I came here when I was young and I had to give up a car. In Texas where there is no cycling infrastructure and everything’s so far apart, you need to have a car anyways.
So I had to give that up and traded it in for a bicycle, which is quite a difference, but I do have to say, I quickly fell in love with cycling, not during the winter rainy days, but during the summer days when you can very easily go meet friends, have a short little cycle ride, and then maybe have some drinks and cycle back.
In some perspectives, it gave me a lot more freedom because I could hop on a bike, go to the train station, visit a friend in a different city and then come back very quickly. So think, yeah, for me, it was great. And I really do enjoy cycling. Marion, do you have any experiences around cycling that you’d like to share?
Marion: Yeah, cycling was one of the things that I was looking forward to moving to the Netherlands. So I was already months in advance, super excited about being able to cycle everywhere.
Travis: And has it met your expectations?
Marion: Yeah. Yeah, when it’s raining, it’s definitely not that fun, but I have cycled through rain and bad weather. And I must say the Dutch are quite impressive with that. Nothing holds them back. But yeah, very enjoyable and has great infrastructure.
Travis: When you visited here the first time, Kerem, did you ride a bike then?
Kerem: Yes. I rode my colleagues’ bike. I went through all Vondelpark to the centre and I parked it there. I parked my bike and walked around the centre. Yeah.
Travis: Is that something you enjoy about the Netherlands or something that maybe made it more attractive when you were considering to move?
Kerem: Definitely. Definitely. I’m a bike fan in my life. I was in it when I was in my hometown. I was going to my high school by bike every day.
Marion:: I agree. When I moved to the Netherlands, I lived outside of Amsterdam and I had to cycle 45, 50 minutes to university. And I really noticed I was so much fitter than when I didn’t go around by bike.
Kerem: Yeah. But always bring a spare t-shirt.
Marion: Yes. Yeah. It’s a fine line. You have to dress enough not to be cold but not too much so that you’re not sweating.
Travis: Yeah. So that’s why every bike I have from now on always has a rack in the front so I can put my backpack on there. Otherwise, my back is completely soaked after a 20-minute bike ride. So that is definitely a tip I would give.
Marion: Feyza, have you adopted the cycling lifestyle in the Netherlands?
Feyza: Actually, I didn’t have the chance, cycling, in my childhood. So it was a bit challenging for me, but I think I’m adapting slowly.
Umut: Uh, it’s worth noting that Feyza is a motorcycle rider. So it’s not like she doesn’t know how to ride two-wheeled vehicles.
Yeah. I just didn’t experience cycling in Turkey because of the elevation. There you can’t use a bicycle too much, it’s not suitable for Turkey actually. So there is no traffic rules and there are no bicycle rules in Turkey. Uh, so you need to learn it and adapt it in the Netherlands when you come here and we are trying to do that and it’s going good for now.
Marion: Great to hear. You will notice that it’s the best place to cycle. The only important thing is that you really manifest your intention clearly. So if you want to turn right, put your arm out and show that to people around you. So you can avoid miscommunication and potentially accidents. But if you do that, you will really enjoy cycling in the Netherlands.
Travis: Genuinely, you typically do get places a lot faster. So I’ve lived in the Netherlands for 16 years now. And I’m a pretty fast biker for some reason I cannot bike slow, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend, but there are times that I would even bike faster than the journey with the tram because it has to stop and start.
And I can just go quick and then, with the car, sure. You may get to the city centre faster or whatnot, but you’re going to spend a lot more time looking for parking. The bike is, I would say very fairly, the handiest and quickest way of getting around the Netherlands.
Umut: Yeah, I’ve been riding a bike since I was four. And, I must say, coming from Turkey, I really enjoy it, not just the infrastructure. It’s a thing about how flat the land is. For instance, in Turkey, I would drive my bike. Sometimes 30 kilometres a day and the total elevation change would be almost a kilometre every day, for 30 kilometres. In the Netherlands, we ride for 10 kilometres sometimes and the total elevation change is usually 10 meters. And that makes riding the bicycles so much more easy, so much more enjoyable, and practical.
Travis: Yeah, exactly. That is the reason why bicycles have become so prevalent here. The Netherlands is very densely populated, so you can get places that are where, for instance, a grocery store or a bank or shopping streets or restaurants, you can get there within a relatively short distance and time. Everything’s flat.
And, yeah, so that combines to be the perfect place for biking, in my opinion.
Umut: Yeah, I agree.
Travis: So Julia, when you first got here over 10 years ago, Was finding a job in tech without, speaking Dutch and professional capacity difficult. Or has the environment changed more so that Dutch speaking requirements are less than it was previously?
Julia: I think it’s the latter. There are fewer requirements. There are much more expats by now throughout the country. Because by that time we were living in Rotterdam and Rotterdam is more a city of shipping yards and like heavy engineering ports, hub, community. There weren’t that many jobs and to travel to Amsterdam, was already a little bit more selection, but was it not feasible at the time.
Now it is much less strict in recent year. I think there are much more opportunities to actually enter the tech community now.
And also now most of the communication goes through LinkedIn. And again, at that time it was all Monsterboards or something like that. And it wasn’t really very fast and very often updated. So it was really not the place where you would go for finding the job positions.
Travis: Okay. So I know it’s a big topic in Dutch news, “should foreigners, should expats have a requirement to learn the Dutch language.” I know that myself, Marion and you’ve also gone through language courses. Given your experience of having learned Dutch, do you think it is necessary for a new person?
Like, not thinking from the Dutch perspective, but just from your own experience, do you think someone who comes to work in the Netherlands, should they go through the effort of learning Dutch or do you think it’s not necessary or is there some benefits?
Julia: I personally really like talking to people in their own language. That’s why I’m really learning a lot of languages. And it does help to communicate. It does help, actually get into the Dutch community because, in my experience, it is really hard to make friends, Dutch friends, and until they actually see that you’re making an effort, sometimes it’s just not.
So they’re not accepting you into their friend circles, so to say, but maybe it was just my experience and I just met this kind of people. And also it is really handy in terms of governmental documentation. It’s just handy to know the language. Although of course the written language and the official language is much different from spoken language, but at least if you get at least something, then it would be really nice.
My perspective is, yes, it is better to learn the language. It’s not that difficult and you can learn it by watching cartoons, Phineas and Ferb, my favourite cartoon translated to Dutch.
Marion: That’s a great way to learn a new language. You have been here for a couple of months only do you already know if you want to learn Dutch?
Kerem: I intend to because, even though you say you can go with your English for your life, it is sometimes a little bit tricky with maybe customer service or your emails coming in. Of course, translation is always possible, but there are all your posts coming to your houses from the government etc. etc.
Yeah. it’s also very good for your brain development, learning a new language. And I’m very passionate about that. I also learned Arabic a little bit when I was back in Kuwait. And also I learned Russian a little bit when I was in college, a little bit of Spanish.
Marion: Wow. Impressive. We have heard from Julia that Dutch also really helps for making Dutch friends.
Kerem: Yes. They say I also heard that. That’s also a fact that’s, everybody wants to get along with other people in their native language.
So if you want to get along with your Dutch colleagues, learn Dutch that’s the summary.
Travis: Yeah. And I would say also from my experience of living 16 years is that Dutch people, they understand, especially in the Amsterdam region, that most people aren’t going to try to speak Dutch or don’t even know any. So if you do make the effort of speaking Dutch, they will be a lot more pleasantly surprised and more receptive and friendly towards it.
So it’s always nice to use these nice little phrases, like “goedemiddag,” “Hoi” “Doei” that just are polite basically.
Marion: Speaking Dutch is also one of the requirements to apply for citizenship. Previously that required A2 level. As of January 2022, you need to master Dutch at level B1. Vamsi, you went through that process, what level of Dutch did you need to have back then?
Vamsi: Level A1.
Marion: So the language requirements have been raised substantially.
Vamsi: Actually on that note, I have already applied for the passport and I am already owning a Dutch passport.
Marion: Wow. Congrats.
Vamsi: Yeah. Thank you. I think it came around two years ago. So as soon as I passed the exams, I went for the passport.
Travis: Yeah, maybe it’s worth if we just talk about kind of the requirements for that because I can imagine, it’s nice to be able to think, “oh, I can. I like it here. How do I live here for how to stay permanently?” So maybe you can tell me if this is the process you went through.
You need to have a residency permit for five years, and then you also need to earn what’s called sustainable income. So that changes yearly based on interest rates or inflation or whatnot. But it’s typically around, I think at least 2000 euros gross a month.
So five years of residency, sustainable income and you also then need to provide proof that you’ve integrated. So typically that is continuing to follow and passing a language course. And then once you have those things, you can request Dutch citizenship. And it’s also important to know for people who do want to do it, the Dutch don’t typically allow you to have dual nationality except for certain edge cases.
So typically if you get Dutch citizenship, you do need to revoke your other citizenship. So for my case, American and in Vamsi’s case, his Indian citizenship typically.
Travis: But, I think the Dutch passport is actually one of the most powerful, in the top 10, at least, in terms of the ability to travel anywhere. So how’s it feel being a Dutch person now, a Nederlander?
Vamsi: In terms of this passport thing, I didn’t find much difference. In India, we have a long-term visa. It basically gives you most of the rights of having an Indian passport. It’s just that you can’t buy some agricultural land, you can’t vote in elections. There a som minor exceptions, so its like a passport but is a long term visa.
It’s nice to have that kind of option from India. So that’s why I didn’t think much when I shifted from an Indian passport to a Dutch passport.
Travis: Alright then, maybe we can talk about food. I am a firm believer that culture is in the food you eat. And that’s the best way to get to experience someone else’s culture, byt the social event that is meal time.
How was your experience with Dutch food, Julia?
Julia: I honestly don’t see any difference if it comes to more or less traditional ways of cooking things between Ukraine and the Netherlands, because we also have very often fried potatoes or mashed potatoes with things. And we also have lots of meats and vegetables inside. And even the salads, the Russian salads, it is a Russian salad. So you also have it on the shelves in the shops.
A bit of a surprise was the difference that Dutch people eat sandwiches for lunch and they’re completely fine with that. For me, lunch is a warm meal. It doesn’t have to be killing you so you will fall asleep after lunch, but sandwiches are just very sad.
Marion: I second that.
Travis: Yeah, me too. The concept of warm or cold meals is something that I only learned about when I moved to Europe. In a lot of cultures, we’ll have a cold breakfast, a cold lunch, and then a warm evening meal.
Dutch people having a broodje kaas or a cheese sandwich as lunch. I still don’t understand it. If I have to, I will eat it, but it’s not what I go for.
Julia: No, definitely not. Actually what I really like in Dutch culture is that they did incorporate a lot of food from other countries like Turkish cuisine, Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine. I really enjoy the opportunities to taste it here. It is also quite different from what I tested from those cuisines in Ukraine.
It’s a nice change and we did go to Sri Lanka. So we tasted something authentic from there, which is also something different. But I actually like it here. It’s more adapted to the tastes and sensibility of spices.
Marion: And by that, you mean not very spicy, right?
Julia: Yeah, it is spicy, but still not that spicy.
Travis: Local spicy. Fair enough. Nice.
Marion: Kerem, what do you think of Dutch food?
Kerem: Yeah, Dutch food. My favourite is Stroopwafels. Honestly, I don’t know what’s the sticky thing between is. I think something caramelized. Yeah. I’m a fan of it and I can easily finish up one package at once, but it’s not healthy for your stomach. Yeah.
Travis: Did you get the pre-packaged ones or do you go to the market and get the fresh ones?
Kerem: The packaged ones from Hema. Yeah. The ones at Hema are my favourites.
Marion: You should try the fresh ones.
Travis: The fresh ones are the best.
Marion: They’re amazing.
Kerem: Let’s do it together then.
Kerem: Next time.
Travis: Next time you find a market, for instance, Albert Cuyp is a really popular one. So there are a lot of Stroopwafels there. You can smell it when you get within like a hundred-meter radius, and you’re just like, “oh, what’s that smell?” And then you pay, I think a Euro, a Euro 50.
Marion: And they’re big, not as big as your face but let’s say almost.
Travis: Bigger than the normal cold ones.
Kerem: The second thing I would say is, I don’t remember the name, but there is this raw fish and you eat it at once. Partly there’s a style to eat it. We can maybe add a link from YouTube to show it off.
Marion: That’s haring.
Kerem: And the third thing is that there is that cake with a pink surface. I don’t know the name, it was so creamy. And I heard that the bakeries make it with orange on King’s day.
Marion: That’s Tompouce.
Kerem: It’s also very good.
Travis: There’s a chain of, basically department stores more or less, for lack of a better term, called Hema. And if you have, like a little membership card, you get discounts on stuff, but if you have a membership card and you go to Hema on your birthday, you can get a free Tompouce. If you like free snacks on your birthday, that’s the way to do it.
Marion: That’s the golden tip of this podcast.
Kerem: That’s very often in the Netherlands. I think in Turkey, people are mostly hesitant or shy to utilize those kinds of opportunities, basically to seize them. But here nobody’s hestitated, which I really like by the way.
Travis: I think getting free stuff or finding ways to get stuff for cheaper is like the national sport for a lot of Dutch people. I think in Dutch, they call it “koopjes jagen”. So hunting for deals and, everyone loves a good sale and there’s a stereotype for Dutch people being thrifty.
Kerem: Yeah. It’s a matter of pride for them.
Travis: It is to some extent. Yeah. And I can understand it a bit. It’s fun when you bought something that normally is 20 euros for 10. It’s nice.
Kerem: I don’t know, by the way, if you have other suggestions that I haven’t tasted yet.
Travis: Have you tried Indonesian food yet?
Kerem: I think I had in, on one of the lunches at the office, but I didn’t like it much. I think it’s so spicy like Indian cuisine. So it’s not my type.
Travis: Fair enough. So obviously these are like the takeaway joints, they’re nice. Definitely, but hat’s not healthy for you when you get that, but, there are some restaurants where you can have, what’s called a “rijsttafel”, which is basically just small little dishes that you share amongst.
And that’s supposed to be really nice, and usually better quality than the takeaway places. So, you know, the Dutch food, it got to the point before they went and found all the spices in those islands, in the east. And then it stopped evolving after that. It feels like, so all the good food I like is the foods that used to be former colonies so Surinamese and Indonesian.
Marion: I also think you shouldn’t be too worried about spices because loads of food from other cultures have adapted to Dutch culture and they make versions that are less spicy. I love spicy and I was disappointed by some restaurants I went to.
Travis: Yeah, the Dutch aren’t the best with spice. I do have to laugh every time a friend of mine that has Siracha sauce.
Marion: That’s next level. When you can’t deal with Siracha.
When moving to a new country, I find that there’s first a phase of exploration to discover new flavours, but once that’s underway there’s sometimes a craving for the food you grew up with. For me that would be a fondue moitié-moitié (which means half half in French), it’s basically melted Vacherin and Gruyere. And I have not found a restaurant that offers that. Fondue, yes but not the fondue I’m looking for. Have you experienced something like that? How’s the Indian food in Amsterdam or the Hague where you live Vamsi?
What dish do you usually order when you want to check if the restaurant is good?
Vamsi: Whatever the restaurant I go, I ended up like, after checking all the starters, I try Chicken Byriani to see how it is, in that restaurant. So I would certainly try that. The starters as well.
Marion: And that’s the one that sets the level for the restaurants? If it passes the standard or not.
Vamsi: Yeah. Yeah, that’s the one, I always take it as my baseline and chicken status, how they are being set up. Is it like nice or it’s spicy? I like spicy food. So it has to be spicy at the same time it should be good, like really hot. Those are the two things which I mainly consider.
Marion: Interesting, thanks for the recommendation. Before we wrap up, let’s discuss one last topic.
How is it to make new friends in the Netherlands? I moved to Amsterdam to do my Master. In a student environment it’s easy to make friends because you have many social events to meet each other. How is it when you move here for work, have you managed to make new friends in the few months you have been here Kerem? Especially with the pandemic and lockdown?
Kerem: I can’t say that I could make new friends but I found a group in the meetup application for playing football. Before the closure, the latest closure, I was going. I was playing footzaal in the Gemeentes, in the municipality. Each municipality almost has sports halls. So, you can use them at fair prices. So yeah, I was going there that was my socializing in the Netherlands so far, but that was the only thing, unfortunately.
Travis: Have you learned when typically football happens. They have, what’s called the third half, which is the drinks after the practice of the match. Have you experienced the third half yet?
Kerem: No, I haven’t. I haven’t, but I’d really liked to do that.
Travis: That’s what I think definitely any sports or interest groups is always a great way to meet the locals as well.
Marion: Yeah. And even if you are not a big sports fan, I would still recommend you check out the meetup page. Because everyone can suggest events on there, there are plenty of events organized all over the Netherlands, not only in Amsterdam and for all different topics of interests.
I remember the last meetup I went to was to practice languages. And for me, that was Dutch. So we met up in Vondelpark at the Picasso statue and everyone brought some snacks. I got to practice my Dutch. Other people were there to practice French, Spanish, German, whatever. And, yeah, I left there with some great friends. So that’s really nice.
If this all sounds like a foreign language to you and you don’t know what meetup is, we will have a link in the show notes. Check it out.
Travis: You have been living in the Netherlands for 16 years. Do you maybe have tips on how to meet new people around here?
Travis: When I moved here, I was still in high school, so it made a lot easy for me to make friends and. Obviously going onto college after that you find yourself in the same setting with people. So you eventually. Uh, build a rapport with these people and become friends with them.
I think that’s philosophy , is the same as an adult. You obviously make friends with people at work because you see them often. If you join a sports team or maybe you do regular social activities, you’ll eventually make friends there with people if you’re open and willing to, and they are as well.
So I think that’s probably the easiest way to maybe make some friends. Either, uh, join an organization or some sort of social activity or go to maybe a bar or restaurant regularly, so that at some point you get to know the regulars there that’s one way to do it.
I have to say Dutch people can be a little bit standoffish at first and it’s a, maybe takes a bit longer to get to more of a personal level with them. But aside from all the locals. There’s also a ton of international people here that are maybe also going through. Those issues of how do I make friends in a new city? So, there are plenty of ways. Uh, just be open for it and look for social activities to do with people.
Marion: Ok let’s round it up with one last question for Julia, you have been living in the Netherlands for more than 10 years. Do you have any tips for people who are considering moving to the Netherlands or just moved here?
Julia: That’s a difficult one. Depends on the person’s location, but I think, people who move here should be more patient with Dutch people and let them grow. And the language sounds horrible at first, but later it becomes something nice to hear. especially if you go abroad and then you hear Dutch people speaking and you’re like, “oh my god, that’s homeland already almost.”
And be prepared that some of the things are not going to work out as in your home country and that it’s not tourism it’s real life and you just be a need to battle the difficulties, different ones from the ones that you had in your home.
Marion: Thank you, Julia, that’s a very good philosophy to adopt. And many thanks to Vamsi, Feyza, Kerem and Umut as well for sharing your experiences with us.
This is the end of episode two, if you don’t want to miss any of our future episodes, please follow us wherever you listen to podcasts. Until next time.