Expat Interview With Olga - Polish Expat In Netherlands

Published: 27 Oct at 10 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Netherlands
Olga Mecking is a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband and their two trilingual girls. She blogs about being an expat, her life in the Netherlands, and raising multilingual children on her website "The European Mama" (see listing here). She also occasionally contributes to Nomad Parents, Amsterdam Mamas, InCulture Parent Magazine and a Polish parenting site, EgoDziecka. She has recently started giving trainings in intercultural communication. Olga greatly enjoys her life in the Netherlands and is very happy to be given the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people!

The European Mama

Here's the interview with Olga...

Where are you originally from?
I come from Warsaw, Poland, but I moved to the Netherlands from Germany- my husband is German.

In which country and city are you living now?
In Rijswijk, the Netherlands- it’s close to The Hague.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been living here for 3 years, even though it’s 4 years for my husband. We’re planning to stay here long-term, if not forever.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved here because my husband has found a job in the Netherlands. I am a mom to 2 girls, and right now I’m expecting my third baby. When the children are at home, I spend time with them. When they’re at daycare (3 days a week), I write blog posts and articles and have some me-time! Occasionally, I write for several websites and give trainings in intercultural communication.

The European MamaDid you bring family with you?
Yes and no. I came to the Netherlands when my elder daughter was 6 weeks old- she’s definitely family! No, because my parents and brother are still in Poland.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Since I’ve already had the experience of living in another country, moving to yet another one wasn’t as hard as I had expected it to be. However, in the Netherlands, some things were entirely different from what I knew from Poland or Germany and that took a lot of getting used to.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was easy to find other expats in my area and I made many friends among them. There were a big help and offered a lot of support and advice. Meeting locals is not that easy since there are not so many places where I can meet them- for example, Dutch moms usually work so even if we meet at daycare, they’re either off to work, or eager to pick up their children and go home.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
In Rijswijk itself, there are not so many things to do. You can go shopping, and take your children to the park or the kinderborderij (petting zoo), but that’s about it. However, the good thing about this area is that it’s very close to The Hague and Delft- both of these cities are full of things to do and see- with or without children.

The European MamaWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
The fact that I can have it all- time for my children and time for myself. The warm people (contrary to the general belief, the Dutch are very friendly people). The fact that I have my freedom and there is hardly any pressure to raise your children in a certain way. The fact that I get in touch with so many fantastic people from different cultures, and they inspire me every day.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Some things are much more expensive than in Poland or Germany- for example, food or eating out, or houses. Other things are relatively cheap, like technology.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The fact that I miss my home country every day. That customer care is often non-existant and the bureaucracy is very overwhelming. That the healthcare system is very different from the one that you might know from home, and on top of that, doctors are often dismissive and sometimes rude. That getting some medicines is hard, and sometimes you might not get the medicine that you need even though you know you need them.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
The Netherlands have many expats living there. Get in touch with them- both online and real life! They are a great resource of all information about living there, and might help you in ways you could have never imagined.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Getting used to the totally different healthcare system.

The European MamaWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1) Find other people (expats or locals) for regular meet-ups, lunches, playgroups, etc.
2) Take the best of both worlds- your culture and the new one.
3) Don’t give in to peer- pressure to be more “integrated”.
4) Stay open-minded.
5) Have fun!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started the European Mama Blog a year ago when I began reading about raising multilingual children. I wanted to share what I had learned about this topic. Also, I wanted to tell my stories and experiences of living in another country, and observations about raising children in a culture different than your own. I learned so much from it, met some wonderful people and have hardly felt so inspired. I have learned to love this! At the beginning, I was worried that I might run out of topics to write about. A year into blogging, I have even more ideas and inspirations for posts than ever before!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Either through my email address: olencja.ba{at}gmail-dot-com, or feel free to leave a comment here or on my blog! Also, I’d be happy to answer all questions posed to me on my FB page and Twitter account!

Olga has her expat blog called The European Mama http://www.europeanmama.eu which is very worthy of a visit. Olga can be found on Twitter @TheEuropeanMama. Her blog has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Olga, please also drop her a quick note below.
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