Elements Blog

Bolu: A journey to the Netherlands

A journey that began some years back with a laptop given to me by my brother and curiosity fuelled by friends always fixed on their laptop with intriguing colours and endless errors (bugs) after an inferior performance in my introduction to programming class has found a spot in the world of global tech in Amsterdam.

I can remember seeing a post by Elements for the frontend developer role. I thought to myself, let’s give it a try. I read about the company's culture, and I quit applying to every other company afterward and focused on getting into Elements right from my first call with the Recruiter.

A month later, It was time to arrange my relocation after the contract was agreed. I had to travel to a neighbouring country to get my visa after approval from the IND in the Netherlands since the embassy in my home country Nigeria doesn’t handle the relocation process.

On the 10th of April, I was all set to travel down to the Netherlands, and little did I know that I was in for my first shock.

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Weather Shock

I arrived around 5:30 am, and coming from a hot region, I didn’t expect to meet weather of 3 degrees celsius upon arrival. Sadly, my winter jacket was in my bag hence I had to make do with the cardigan I had on. I was almost freezing over.

At the airport, everything went well, and I was cleared quickly, and there, I got my passport stamped.

It didn’t take long to get a taxi and proceed to my temporary accommodation (Mercure Hotel Amsterdam west), where I had my first good sleep that lasted for about 9 hours.

I have since learned that even the Dutch complain about the weather, and “slecht weer vandaag” (bad weather today) is a common way to start a conversation with someone. Hence, the feeling is never going away.

This will lead to my next shock, which was the cultural differences.

Culture Shock

A welcoming, friendly, and oneness lifestyle back home doesn’t quite fit into a self-enclosed community and culture. I found it intriguing that people can be nice and helpful and at the same time keep to themselves just as the Dutch. That is something I find challenging. I am still on a journey to discovering a way in. The estimated time it will take is a year. Let’s get back to the fun stuff.

During my waiting period before work starts, I decided to learn how to ride a bicycle since that is a crucial means of transportation in the Netherlands. I accomplished this within 3 days (still proud of myself), and I also started my Dutch lessons by talking to the Receptionists at the Hotel, and I learned how to greet and basic communications.

Food is an important aspect, but I would like to detour and talk about my first few days at the office.

First Day at The Office

I can remember receiving an e-mail some days prior, and it stated in bold text weights 9:00 am. which caused a run of emotions and questions within and thinking what it would be like, how will it go, would I love it there? And so on was later met with a friendly and calm environment that makes you feel at home as I walked through the door. I remember saying to myself; I think you made the right choice.

After a few months here, I am writing, and I still feel it’s a great culture that doesn’t micromanage and trusts you enough to do what you were employed to do.

We later had our first office Friday after-work drink where all the new guys from different parts of the world shared about their culture, and we got to meet some of our colleagues (thanks to Corona, not all). One of the things we spoke about was food in our cultures.

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Food in the Netherlands (and my culture)

One day, I discovered a Nigerian restaurant close to the office in Almere and decided to order a bowl of pepper soup (some spicy soup with lots of meat in it) since the weather was so cold and decided to invite my colleagues to give it a try if they want to. Unknown to me, the Dutch do not eat spicy food. Let’s say it was a good laugh seeing someone go from white to red cos of a spoon of the pepper soup taken.

I would later learn that food in the Netherlands doesn’t really have a culture behind it, and they adopted lots of neighbouring cultures' food. But one thing to try is the snacks.

Frikandel, Stroopwafels, Mexicano are some snacks I really do like but watch out; they can make you fat, so save them for Fridays.

This article is getting long, so that I will stop here for now.

In closing, the Netherlands is a place I love so far. I love it daily and can say much about aspects not even covered here, such as boat cruises, historical locations, and generally great people. I would love to have you here with me as I continue to discover Dutch life.

This blog was written by

Boluwatife Fakorede


Jul 27, 2021

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