Aledys Ver, author of From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love.
“One day I found love, or love found me. Next thing you know, I was married and living on the other side of the world: the Netherlands.” This is the introduction of another blog I've enjoyed, the positive and fun From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love, written by Aledys Ver. In her blog, Aledys not only shares about what she discovers in the Netherlands, but she also sheds a lot of light on Argentina, her home country, which I feel makes it even more interesting. I recently sent Aledys a list of questions to help introduce you all to her blog.
Where are you from originally?
I come from Córdoba, the second largest city in Argentina.
What city do you live in currently?
I live in Zwolle, the capital of the province of Overijssel which is in the central eastern part of the country.
What inspired you to begin your blog?
I wanted to share with others my impressions of life here in the Netherlands and to create a place where I could show the thousands of photos that I have been taking since I came here seven years ago. The Netherlands is a beautiful place to visit and I want other people [readers] to travel around the country with me, especially to those places that are less known and just as pretty as those that are very popular with tourists. I am also trying to bring my home country, Argentina, a bit closer to those who read my blog, by talking about Argentinean culture and featuring different regions of the country as well.
What brought you to the Netherlands?
Love! My husband is Dutch and we decided to settle here in the Netherlands when we got married.
When you first arrived in the Netherlands, what were the biggest differences you noticed from your own culture?
Though Argentina is a western country with more of a European than native Latin American influence, I found many differences between both cultures, mainly having to do with food, dress, habits, personal interaction… much in the same way there are differences between northern and southern Europe, I think. People in these parts are less open, much more reserved not as warm as they are in Argentina.
If you'd like to share, name 1-3 pieces of advice to anyone who comes from the same country as you to the Netherlands [eg: what to bring, funny differences, cuisine adjustments, tips, etc...]
Go as native as you can, but never lose the sparkle and the intense joie de vivre that we share back home. You will certainly miss the food, but you will discover new good flavours and new kinds of good food. They do not necessarily have to be Dutch! Travel around whenever you can by getting to see the beautiful old historic cities and small quaint villages in the Netherlands. You will fall in love with the country and it will make it easier to feel at home. Finally, try to go back home as often as you can to be pampered and kissed and hugged, for there is not much of that around here outside your home.
Name at least one of your favorite things about the Dutch culture.
Their practical outlook on life. The Dutch – very much unlike us, Argentineans - don’t make a big fuss about their problems. They rather sit down and discuss them and all together try to find the best solution. Determination and hard work are two more things I admire in the Dutch as a nation. As an example, I will never forget while visiting Zeeland, how impressed I was to learn that the dams that protect their cities had been destroyed during the war, flooding and destroying entire towns; but they had them up again within a year! A few years later, they suffered a major natural disaster when the North Sea flooded into the country in 1953, known as the watersnoodramp [English: flood disaster], killing over a thousand people. The tragedy made them even stronger and they have today one of the best flood protection systems in the world.
Name at least one of your least favorite things about the Dutch culture.
I still find it sometimes annoying how they stubbornly stick to the rules, no matter what. In general this is a good thing, but many times it makes interacting with them difficult because they are not looking at a personal situation but at a protocol that has to be followed to the letter. This can sometimes lead to funny situations, but in many cases it also gives pain and misery.
Do family or friends come to visit you since you have been in the Netherlands?
Yes, my mother came for a visit a few years ago. She liked it very much and would like to come again for another visit next year.
What do you like best about the city where you currently live?
I always say that I would have loved to settle somewhere to the south of the rivers, since there, people and lifestyle are closer to what I know from back home. But I love my city, Zwolle. It has a lot of green spaces – In fact, it was chosen the greenest city of Europe in 2006. It has a very nice old historic centre, excellent bus/train services, varied and interesting events all the year round, and outstanding restaurants, like the first Dutch restaurant to ever get three Michelin stars. It also still has a bucolic atmosphere, since it is in the middle of some of the best landscapes in the country.
Where would you suggest to someone else [from your native country] to search/shop for the same [ingredients for making] traditional foods and/or to buy decoration for the special occasions/holidays?
Someone from Argentina will find it difficult to get the same quality of meat [either beef, pork or poultry] that is normal to have back home. One of the biggest supermarket chains [Albert Heijn], however, imports beef from Argentina and Uruguay, so if you miss having your usual steaks, you should look there. As to other foods, like dulce de leche or typical Argentinean biscuits, can be bought online. I normally buy my mate tea and other goods from Mate-Tee, a German company that imports many things from Argentina and Brazil.
When it comes to learning Dutch, what do you find to be the most difficult: Reading, writing, listening or speaking?
The most challenging part of the learning process for me has been to understand when spoken to. There are many varieties of Dutch and too many dialectal differences in the language, which makes it sometimes difficult to follow a conversation or understand simple remarks, even, when you are interacting with natives.
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