Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gotta Talk that Dutch

People from home often ask: "How is the language barrier". The stock answer about Holland is: "You will rarely ever NEED to speak Dutch, and most everyone speaks English well". This is true.. but there are subtleties to living around the language that are starting to wear on me. For instance, it is impossible to be polite when asking for something; asking "when you get a chance, could you bring the bill" will be met with a blank look until you say: "I would like to pay, please". More importantly, when you hear people around you talking and they end up laughing, you get that sense that you aren't 'in' on the joke (somewhat of a High School feeling).

They laugh alot, so this has me thinking that I need to put the time and effort into learning some Dutch.


For your viewing enjoyment, I threw in this picture of people repelling off of the Euromast.

Another visitor; McCormick

Our next visitor, ironically, was Feet's old partner in crime, McCormick. Jarod happened to be in Bruges, Belgium, for a conference. So afterwards he hopped on a train up to see us. He was here over the 4th of July weekend. It was nice to be with another fellow countryman on the 4th. ;)

We celebrated in style, by going to the beach at the Hague and sitting outside in a café on the beach, lounging and drinking and eating all afternoon. Jarod decided that he wanted to move to the Hague, so he could live this lifestyle all the time (in the short summer months of course). We also stumbled upon a wonderful tapas restaurant in the city for dinner that night. Once again, it was really nice to have a friend visit to share our new home with.


Pics from Jarod's visit:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cyber Frustrations

One of the most frustrating parts of settling in here in Holland was trying to establish an internet connection. It seems like it should be straight forward. You go to the store, and leave with an internet subscription and modem. Not so.

Of course we wanted to get the cheapest option possible that would handle our needs, so we shopped around a bit. There are a few discount internet providers available, and the adds sounds great, so we first looked there. However, they do not provide the high speeds that we needed, especially to use Slingbox or Skype.

Then we looked for a higher speed providers, which took us to UPC or KPN. After taking a trip to each store downtown, we were told that setup took 4 weeks. FOUR WEEKS! That is such an incredibly long time, considering it should only involve them “flipping a switch,” so to speak. Could they not just hand us the modem in the store? I guess our expectations were too high. We were desparate for another option, so we kept looking.

We found that Orange also offered high speeds, but at a cheaper price. So we went to ask them, and they also told us it would take “4-6” weeks, but they expected it would be less than four (which was no consolation to us). After much deliberation, and still in disbelief of the long wait time, we decided to go to the Orange store and buy their setup. They put our information into the computer and “set us up.” We were now to wait a few weeks and then we would receive a modem.

Two weeks later, we received a letter, but not the one we were hoping for. The letter stated that they could not provide internet to our apartment, because we were within a certain postal code in the city limits, and they had already used the allotted number of lines that KPN (the phone company) provides to them. What!? Plus, why did it take them two weeks to come back to us with this information? Couldn't they look this up and tell us in the store? It is too complicated to get into the full explanation of this setup in here, so I’ll leave it at that. But long story short, we couldn’t use them.

I'm fairly certain that the internet setup in Rotterdam looked something like this:

So, we were back to where we started. Basically, our only option then was to go to UPC. It was much more expensive, but we bit the bullet and went ahead. We set up the account, and set in for the long wait. After a few weeks, we had heard nothing, so we went to check up. At this point, they told us they couldn’t create a new account for us because there was already an active account for our 'building.' Our building is split into three apartments, but they only had it as one address in their system. This didn't help us because the setup was not in our apartment.

Well, I didn't do a very good job of keeping this long story short, but in conclusion, we were able to go into the store with our upstairs neighbor, and purchase the expensive plan (saying we lived 'together'). Then we waited our allotted weeks, and presto... the magic world of the internet was at our fingertips (so long as the service didn't go out, as it often did)!

- C