Tag Archives: Dutch Expat

Return to Refugees in Holland #Expat

Photo from with "Faces of Change" Professor Saskia Harkema

Photo from with “Faces of Change” Professor Saskia Harkema

When I wrote about The Refugees in My Town, I hoped to give you some insight about how things are in The Netherlands. My friend I mentioned continues her volunteer work collecting items for these folks to use as they settle into new housing around our area of the country. She posted on Facebook, and I asked if I might share her up close and personal experience with you. It’s the news behind the news that you’ll never hear otherwise.  Thanks, Friend. –Kristin

(Anonymous Post)

Just wanted to share a quick refugee update since I haven’t done so in a while. Today I spent this glorious sunshine filled day with some wonderful people. I volunteered at the refugee clothing center in the am and was greeted by smiles, hugs, and kisses. Some of these folks I have now known for 6 months. I got to hear people share their stories and both good and bad news of their lives.

A young Syrian man, who a friend donated new soccer cleats last year, shared great news about finally being accepted by a Dutch competitive club. This is wonderful for him because 3 weeks ago he was sharing that his current local team was not being kind or helpful to him and he didn’t feel like “part” of the team and was thinking of quitting. At that time I encouraged him not to let this bad experience stop him for doing what he loved. Today he was beaming to finally have teammates who encouraged him and he is hoping to continue to play with them even when he gets status and has to move out of the camp.

Photo credit

Photo credit

I met and assisted another man find a stroller and clothes for his newborn son and the pride in his eyes and excitement for the future was so moving. Finally I spent the afternoon with a mother and her 14-year-old son who recently got status and gave them a ride to their new home to check it out before moving in next week and brought them donations of household items. Their home is 45 km from camp and it is very expensive by train and bus for them to go. Our language in common was basic HS French which was so fun to muddle through with her. We picked up her brother and wife, who have lived in NL for three years, and they shared with us they think they may be expecting a baby and can’t wait to find out if is true. The brother speaks great English and we had an enlightened discussion about tolerance, finding commonalities, diversity, and the funny, and sometimes aggravating, aspects of living in a country that is not your birth country.

How lucky am I? It humbles me to be able to assist in some small way. I thank our amazing expat group for the donations. You make so many people feel at home in their new country. These are some of the bravest, sincere, and hopeful people I have ever met. Makes me want to be a better person. Now I have to go make dinner for the family I am lucky enough to spend time with. There are so many of these refugees missing people at their dinner table each and every night…Much love…


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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in In The News, Living in Holland


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Golly Good Grocer (Holland Expat)

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 1.22.49 PMPerhaps you have fond memories of going up and down the isles of Target with the laser gun adding items to a registry for your baby shower, wedding, or anniversary. Grocery shopping in The Netherlands calls that experience to mind.

For the expat with limited Dutch, using the laser scanner for each food item, bagging it right at that moment in your cart (since you have to bag yourself anyway), and paying at a self-check out is quite fun. My children vie for the power of the scanner which takes tops over pushing the cart any day. This is an Albert Heijn experience.

Not too long ago, I was distracted by my explanation to Lil’ Man for why we were buying the cheaper store brand frozen pizza instead of the expensive one labeled “American Pizza.” Thus, I neglected to scan my last purchase.

As providence would have it, my cart was chosen for the random scan test by a cashier. I was so embarrassed that I had neglected to ring an item up. I chattered with my children about distracting Mommy (totally not their fault  which I also told them) while the woman re-scanned every item and found the missing frozen pizza.

Only wishing to get away from the shameful experience, I high-tailed it out the door—having left one large bag of groceries (equivalent to at least 2 US-sized paper bags full) behind. Because the family unloads the car and we all put items away together, the lost bag wasn’t noted till 2 days later.

When I returned to the grocery service desk and explained, the woman behind the counter (a different one, thank goodness) knew exactly what had happened. They had returned every item to the shelves, carefully made a handwritten note of each brand, size, etc. This lady procured my actual bag (an unusual one I purchased in England) from a closet and took it through the store essentially re-doing my shopping for me with the handwritten list.

They were all so kind and understanding about everything from the initial incident to handing over my bulging sack. I knew I had to blog about my golly good Dutch grocery.


Kristin King is an author, speaker and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa. For the record, Kristin has never tried to steal something from a store since she was five years old and was caught red-handed with one piece of bubble gum and then forced to return it with an apology to the store keeper who gave her the gum anyway.

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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Living in Holland


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