Aaron D'Souza

IMBA, Nyenrode Business Universiteit

I feel the best way to describe living in a country would be to simply list the best pros and cons are.

This is purely based on my opinion of Holland after living in the country for about a year as a student and entrepreneur, so forgive me for not being in depth.

Pros

A well planned city which is both functional and beautiful

The government of the Netherlands did not waste a single inch of space while planning the city of Holland is what I heard on a local Windmill tour I took. I’m not sure if it is absolutely true, but I would say they’re pretty close . Holland is just so beautiful at times that it just takes my breath away, especially during the summer. The country is well organized to the point that I just wonder at how much effort must have gone into making all this to work. The Dutch are sheer geniuses at planning and water management, even during the floods in the USA, Dutch water management specialists were called in to tackle the issue. One very evident example is the bus transport system.

Europe’s most populated nation with warm (mostly) English speaking people

As compare to many other European nations, Holland has an astounding number of people who speak English, and they are always happy to help. In fact, many a time’s people have gone out of the way to help us. Also the fact that it is the most populated of the European nations means that you don’t really miss the “Arre yaar, log kaha hain?” feeling many Indians get while living in these countries. It also reflects in the houses in popular cities like Utrecht and Amsterdam wherein they’re all stacked next to each other giving you that cosy feeling. I live in Utrecht next to a bed & breakfast and an auto service station but I love it! Not too crowded, but not too lonely as well.

Lots of events happening to keep yourself updated

You wouldn’t think so, but Holland really has a lot of events going on throughout the year, more than a person can think of attending. From the crazy kings day celebrations to Hozier performing in the Heineken music hall to startup events in Amsterdam or the Grand Depart of the Tour De France  (in a city called Utrecht), there’s always something for everyone’s tastes. It also helps you to blend in and party like the locals do.

A country steeped in culture

The country in itself has a rich culture and habits even though it does not have a specific cuisine. The few hundreds of windmills left stand testament to over tens of thousands of windmills that were built and run many years ago. There are still farmers today that wear wooden shoes (a Dutch specialty called clogs) while working in their fields. Dutch cheeses produced from the milk of the Dutch Holstein cows (the highest milk producing cows in the world) are well known throughout the world, for example Gouda and Edam. I adore Volendam’s smoked cheeses, they’re the best! If you are willing to be patient, you will notice the rich culture this country has to offer among all the hustle and bustle.

International crowd in College

There is a good chance you will have many different nationalities studying in your college and sometimes many more! To give an example, the International MBA I pursued had at least 12 nationalities in one class! What this gives you is immense perspective to understand the finer nuances between different cultural stereotypes and how this affects their respective opinions and actions. Only going through this experience with all its ups and downs gives you the necessary skills to survive in any international workplace.

Can find Indian groceries easily

Due to website like Ekirana.nl and stores like Target, it is easy to get Indian groceries and condiments, although at a price. Target, in fact has multiple stores over the Netherlands. You can even get paneer parathas, samosas and maggi noodles at decent rates in these stores. Especially for us Indians, this aspect adds an icing on the cake. 

Cons

No country is perfect, and this is true with Holland as well. Listed below are some of the not so nice features of living in this country.

Public transport is expensive and takes quite some time.

All though it is already very efficient and effective, it still takes more time than private transport if you’re location is not a well known one. Time is not lost much during transit itself but more so during the switch over’s between train to bus to tram etc.

Inconsistent Weather

For starters, it is perfectly normal to rain in the Netherlands any time throughout the year. In fact, I always carry my umbrella everywhere. During the summers, the sun rises at 5/6 in the morning, and sets at 11pm in the night. During the winter, it rises at 9am and sets at 5pm and the sun also rises very rarely making the weather very dull. That is how inconsistent Dutch weather can get during the seasons. On the flipside, I believe learning to live in these harsh conditions will teach you to survive in most countries of the world.

High rental costs

This is especially true near Amsterdam and other popular places (read Utrecht etc). If you compare rental costs in other European countries, then you will see that Holland comes somewhere in the upper half of the price range, considering the fact that there are so many people residing in the country.