Sint vs Santa

As an American who’s been living in the Netherlands for almost 20 years, I’ve noticed a growing conflict between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus. More and more, Christmas seems to be taking over. “Oh no,” say the Dutch purists, “American commercialism is ruining Sinterklaas.” And with the Dutch economy begging for some more consumer spending, this … Continued

Dutch Bedside Manner: ‘You’re Dying.’

I’ve read that a positive mental attitude can boost your health. Dutch research seems to have concluded it’s better to admit we’re all dying. Perhaps it’s because many Dutch people pride themselves on their directness. Back home I learned, “Don’t talk about religion and politics in mixed company”. Here, it’s not uncommon to start a … Continued

From iPads to English, Are Dutch Schools Becoming American?

Have you ever been to one of those Dutch historical museums, where you can see Dutch classrooms as they existed years ago? I visit one every day. It’s called ‘My Kid’s School.’ While Dutch society may be progressive in many ways, Education is not always one of them. I was watching a speech at the … Continued

Hidden Defects

Expats who are looking for temporary accommodation can be challenged with unforeseen circumstances once they commit to a rental property. What you see is not always what you get, especially if the owner turns out to be a tad unreliable. VERBORGEN GEBREKEN is a well-known concept in Dutch real estate, but the exact translation to English … Continued

A Slug’s Life

Being a homeowner in a country built on a swamp may not always be the wisest thing, writes editor Robin Pascoe. As I stand, once again, in our semi-basement kitchen with pump in hand, trying to get rid of the centimetres of water that have found their way in after the recent rains, I … Continued


I remember raising my eyebrows when I first heard that question. I was viewing rental properties at the time with one of my expat clients. The house was not furnished and without any linen. I simply could not imagine what one could do in a bathroom while visiting an empty house. Did my client want … Continued

Education versus Wisdom

Education – the theme of this issue – and wisdom are two entirely different things. We all want our children to get a good education, with the requisite diplomas and academic degrees added to their repertoire and their CVs. But will they find wisdom in their education? Not necessarily. An even better answer would be: … Continued

The Experiment

At first glance, people looked pretty normal. None of them wore Tea Party tee shirts or complained about Obama-care. Nobody touted the NRA, Michelle Bachman, or the repeal of same-sex marriage legislation. Even the casual banter was pleasant and surprisingly open-minded. I kept waiting for someone to ‘out’ me, to say “We know you’re a … Continued

Votes for Internationals

It was extremely irritating in September 2012 to watch my husband and two sons head off to the polling station to cast their votes in the general election. There I was; a taxpayer, a homeowner and an entrepreneur with no vote, simply because after 30 years, I still don’t see why I should stop being … Continued


On the odd occasion when frigid temperatures and snow hit the Netherlands, you are sure to hear Dutch people grumbling about how cold it is, how the snow is slowing down trains, how flights are not taking off from Schiphol airport and how long it took them to get to work – but secretly they … Continued