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From Surviving to Thriving: 8 Tips to Help You Catch the Eindhoven Vibe

Feb 8, 2016 2:58:00 PM. By: Betsy Lindsey

Before setting foot in a new city, expats have a ton of questions about if and how they can fit in. A primary question people might ask about Eindhoven: is it a big city or is it a village? Why doesn't it have all those characteristic, narrow Dutch townhouses like Amsterdam? Is it a modern, global city or a provincial or regional hub? Therefore, expats may be surprised to find that about 30% of Eindhoven’s population is foreign born, making it a moderately-sized city with an international cultural flair. About 10% of Eindhoven’s residents have come as knowledge (or tech) workers (or spouses!) for the global technology companies in the area. So, if you’re a new expat in town, you are definitely not alone.

Five years ago, the mothership (Philips) called my Dutch husband home. For a variety of reasons, we thought about living closer to the Randstad (the Amsterdam/Rotterdam corridor). However, after some careful contemplation, we realized that living in Hong Kong had given us enough of the “big city life” for a lifetime, and we were ready to slow down. In the end, something inside me (and perhaps some pleading from my Dutch in-laws) said that Eindhoven would provide a better work-life balance in the long term. Now, five years later, Eindhoven has proven to be a very livable and surprisingly global city.

That said, as an expat, it’s not always easy to feel at home in a foreign city. Here are eight recommendations (and some curated hyperlinks, click, click…) to make Eindhoven feel like home:

#1 Get Connected: It’s always good to check in with other internationals to compare and share experiences. Through Facebook or the web, you can find information about various clubs and organizations: North American Women’s Club, International Women’s Club, Expats in Eindhoven 

#2 Get Involved: Okay, so I am stating the obvious, but getting out of the house and participating in the world around you helps you feel like you belong. The Feel Good Market at Strijp-S is an awesome way to get out of the house, listen to some music and see people, rain or shine! Volunteering is also a great way to get to know your host country. Check into activities at the Hub Eindhoven. Giving your own conversational language lessons or taking an art or music course at the CKE (many courses are now in English, but you need to give them a call) feeds the soul. 

#3 Explore the Nightlife: Whether it’s internationally renowned ballet at the Park Theatre or drinking some locally-made beer at Van Moll, Eindhoven has many diverse cultural experiences. Talk to a native Dutch, and they will say that Eindhoven’s downtown or centrum has had a sort of post-urban cultural renaissance in the last decade. While Eindhoven’s most famous cultural events, Dutch Design Week and GLOW happen in autumn, the Park Theatre and the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips host world class dance and classical musical performances all year round. If you are looking for something edgier, try the STRP festival or the International Illustration Festival. Most popular English language films can be viewed at the Pathé or Bioscoop Zien and now, one time per month, there are arthouse films with English subtitles at the newly renovated, historic NatLab. Rumor has it there is also an English dramatic theater group in the works. Also, be sure to not miss out on the International Trivia Night at the Carousel on Thursdays, the hosts are as entertaining as the participants, even if the questions are a little American-biased. 

#4 Explore the Region: When I dug into my research, I also realized that Eindhoven is very well-situated between four major cities/airports - Dusseldorf, Antwerpen, Brussels and Amsterdam - making flights to any destination super easy, including back to the U.S. for me. My family gets our doses of urban culture with just a short train ride, which mostly are hassle-free. A MuseumKaart, available to purchase directly at most museums, is yearly subscription to all the museums in the Netherlands. The card is great for some of Eindhoven’s museums, such as the wildly innovative Van Abbe, but also for museums all around the Netherlands, including the Rijksmuseum (the national trust) in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller museum located in the Veluwe national park near Arnhem.

An expat state of mind World Europe
Expat survival guide the Netherlands Eindhoven
Expats international culture
Get involved international expats

#5 Get Support: Have kids? Ask a Dutch neighbor to recommend a local babysitter or perhaps even a gastouder (“guest parents” that run in-home daycare, usually near your house) for extended periods. If you have small children under four, the “Mums and Toddlers” group hosts a bi-monthly meet up, so you can share tips and tricks with like-minded folks. 

#6 Go Back to Work: While some trailing spouses didn’t anticipate working while living abroad, most of my friends and colleagues agree that going back to work is what made them feel truly integrated and fulfilled. Check out the Expat Spouses Initiative, which is a newly established group designed as a business networking group to help integrate internationals and Dutch folks returning from living abroad into the local, yet global work force. 

#7 Take Dutch Lessons: Living in a foreign country is the perfect time to try something new, like learning another language. Dutch lessons will help you understand the world around you, but don’t expect miracles. It is a tough language, especially because many locals quickly switch to English during conversations, because about 90% of the working population speak English. So, not knowing Dutch is not a problem, as long as you are living and working in Eindhoven, but if you are in an outlying village things could be a little rough at first. If you plan to stay over a few years, I promise you it is worth the effort, the Dutch really appreciate it. 

#8 Get in the Know: Last, but not least, check the “This is Eindhoven” website for upcoming events and check the Dutch News, e52 platform and the Eindhoven News for English language local news. And now, you are ready to go!

 

Have other tips or suggestions? Feel free to make comments to this post or contact me: Betsy Lindsey, Acceleration Manager, HighTechXL, betsy@hightechxl.com

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Betsy Lindsey
Betsy Lindsey


betsy@hightechxl.com

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