General Observations about the Dutch

by Michelle on July 7, 2015 · 5 comments


Since I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost 3 months now (it goes by so fast!), I thought a post about the Netherlands is in order. When I moved to Germany, I already knew tons of stereotypes and cultural facts about the country so their “foreignness” was quite easy to understand. Although I’ve been to the Netherlands (well Amsterdam) a few times before, the Dutch largely still remains somewhat of a mystery since they’re not exactly widely talked about by non-Dutch people.

And while I still haven’t fully uncovered the mystery of their ways, there are some observations I’ve made during my time here!

1. Everyone is tall and skinny

This is definitely true where I live (in the Utrecht/Amsterdam area) although having gone to the south of the Netherlands, people don’t seem as tall or skinny as their northern counterparts. It’s not uncommon finding girls who are 6′ tall, although being 5’5, surprisingly I don’t feel that short. There’s actually quite a few Dutch girls my height, but anything shorter is definitely a rarity.

When it comes to being skinny, I find it really impressive how fit people here stay, even well into old age. I read somewhere that obesity rates are increasing everywhere in the EU except for the Netherlands and it really shows. Especially coming from Bavaria where everyone seems to sport a beer belly, it’s definitely a change being here!

Interestingly, Dutch people also really love fried foods like fries (which is served in heaping piles!) and kroket (a long deep fried doughy thing filled with different kinds of meat) which you can get at any of the fast food “vending machines” scattered around a city. How do they stay skinny eating all of that still remains a mystery but judging by what my colleagues eat for lunch, the Dutch seem to prefer salads and other very light meals! Also they bike A LOT.

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a screenshot of the nest website

a screenshot of the nest website

When I was searching for apartments in Amsterdam and Utrecht, I discovered a website called Nestpick. For those of you who haven’t heard of Nestpick, it’s a site that lets you look for rooms online that are placed on the website by “verified” landlords. If you find one you like, you pay a deposit on the room and the landlord has 48 hours to make an approval. If approved, you’re set to move in and Nestpick transfers your deposit to the landlord. If unapproved, then Nestpick refunds your deposit and you can apply for another room.

The concept of Nestpick is great since you’re not required to see the room in person or meet the landlord beforehand. For those people moving to a new city or country, this concept can be a lifesaver when looking for accommodations without stress since you’re in a different country or paying hefty realtor fees.

When I first started to use Nestpick, in the beginning they seemed like a great company. I applied to a few different rooms in Amsterdam and while I didn’t get accepted to the rooms I applied for (competition for rooms in Amsterdam is just crazy), I would get emails from different reps from Nestpick offering to help me find a place and let me know that they will do their best to make sure I find a room.

Sounds great, right?

After I decided that finding a room in Amsterdam was impossible, I applied for a room in Utrecht. A few hours later, I got an accepted offer from the landlord, and that was where the problems began…

First of all, Nestpick sent me the contact info for the landlord so I can get in contact to arrange my move-in. Right away I noticed that the renter’s name was “Betty Chang” but the email was associated to someone called “Frank Toney.” Since the names didn’t add up, I immediately felt suspicious.

I did a quick google search and there are literally pages of results pointing to Betty Chang as the worst landlord in Utrecht. There were blogs, newspaper articles and forum threads warning you to stay away from her to even YouTube clips of local news segments of her being confronted by reporters.

In fact, she’s been sued many times for malpractice and people posted warnings to stay away from her because she would pull tricks like not returning your deposit money or charging you random fees that she claimed were set by the city. In fact, her name has such a bad rep in the city with many people refusing to work for her that she now has a Frank Toney working for her.

First thing I thought after reading all of that was how Nestpick, who claims to “authorize” all their landlords could have allowed someone with such a bad reputation list rooms on their website. How did they not find her suspicious when within a few minutes of seeing her name, I could pull up pages of evidence pointing against her?

Evidently, I didn’t want to rent from this lady after reading so many horror stories, so I decided to contact Nestpick, thinking that they would be more than supportive in this special situation.

One thing I have to say is that those reps on Nestpick that you can chat with on their website are absolutely horrible people. You might as well be talking to a wall. I mostly chatted with Dana and Leonardo , so if you ever get these reps, run far far away.

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After getting my internship offer, one of my major hurdles was figuring out how to work in the Netherlands. While I have a residence permit that lets me live and work in Germany, unfortunately that doesn’t extend to the rest of the EU countries.

Luckily as a Canadian and under 30 years old, you can get a Holiday Working Visa to live and work in the Netherlands for up to a year. I had gotten one for Australia when I went there in 2010 (I still can’t believe that was 5 years ago!) and the process to apply and get the actual visa was so easy and quick – i think it took less than 24 hours!

While the Dutch one was easy enough to get, figuring out exactly how to apply for this visa was hard to find! For one thing, they don’t offer an online application like they do in Australia. Instead, there is a paper application you can send in or you would have to apply directly from one of their IND offices in the Netherlands. I found the information online about the procedure a bit confusing, so if any of you guys are interested in applying for one, here are my steps of how to do so!

Since I was in Germany at the time, I contacted the Dutch embassy there and they recommend that I go directly to the IND office in the Netherlands. This is the easiest and fastest way as a paper application could take longer than a month, which was all I had to get this visa.

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April was definitely a month of changes. Since the beginning of March, I had been applying for internships. Originally I looked into internships with political organizations but as it turned out, doing a major in politics and even getting lots of A’s in my poli sci classes is not enough to beat out the intense competition.

Afterwards I thought, what makes me stand out as a candidate? In what fields do I have the most experience in? It easily came down to writing, art/design and social media, so I applied for a bunch of internship positions in these fields and the offers started coming in!

One of them happened to be working for the Nike European Headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands. As a huge fan of Nike, I couldn’t have accepted my offer any faster (this was of course after jumping up and down for a solid few minutes!!)

And then all of a sudden, I was moving to the Netherlands!!!

Since the internship started a month after I received my offer, April was all of a sudden filled with things to plan and do. There were quite the ups and downs, and a slew of adventures, frustrations, and everything in between. In the upcoming days, I’ll be posting more about them in detail but for now, here’s a sampling of what’s to come!

I’m so excited to fill you guys in on my latest adventures!

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Paris, Part III (Versailles!)

by Michelle May 7, 2015

This is the last of the Paris series! I decided to group my 3rd and last day of Paris together in one post since I’m a bit behind in my posts…I’m currently living in the Netherlands and am really excited to give you guys all the updates in my next post! The palace of Versailles has been a place I’ve […]

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Paris, Part II

by Michelle April 30, 2015

The second day when we were in Paris was also my birthday. Turning 26 was pretty scary – especially that moment when you realize that now you’re closer to 30 than 20! It was similar to when I was 19 and was anticipating that big turn to 20, where I’ll no longer be a teen. I still remember then I […]

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Thumbnail image for My birthday in Paris, Part 1

My birthday in Paris, Part 1

by Michelle April 23, 2015

April has been one of the craziest months I’ve had in a long time. There’s so many upcoming changes in my life, including a move to another country in a week! I will definitely be filling you guys in on everything in the upcoming days/weeks! Anyway it was my birthday on the 18th and keeping with the tradition of traveling […]

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Exploring the Munich Botanical Gardens

by Michelle April 2, 2015

Last weekend (before Southern Germany got stuck in this continuous storm that’s still brewing outside), Miriam and Yann’s parents all came to visit us in Munich. We all had such a fun time, although one thing that really stood out was our trip to the Botanical Gardens. It’s near the Nymphenburg Palace, which I’ve been to, but somehow we never […]

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by Michelle March 26, 2015

I love Instagram. It’s by far my most favourite social media platform. Scrolling through my Instagram feed always feels like stepping into a candy shop. I love following other travel, fashion and fitness bloggers and all their perfectly filtered photos are just the fix I need to draw on for my daily dose of inspiration. I’m not “instafamous” by any means […]

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You know spring has arrived in Germany when…

by Michelle March 23, 2015

The first day of spring was officially March 20th, which many of my friends and family in Canada were extremely happy about, especially after all the dreadful -30-40 days they’ve had this winter! While this winter has been pretty warm in Germany (although winters here overall tend to be overcast and grey), the sunny and warm weather we’ve been having […]

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