Posts Tagged ‘expat life’

More post-conference thoughts: the Dutch, speaking Dutch, and oh-so-many ideas

I could keep writing and writing about WebSci’11, but I’ll try to hold off from too many posts! A few more observations, slightly more personal:

As someone who recently moved to the Netherlands, I was really impressed by the strong presence of Dutch institutions: my presentation followed talks from TU Delft and the University of Amsterdam, for instance! This was perhaps predictable based on the high proportion of submissions from the Netherlands, but still struck me. My job in Eindhoven isn’t directly affiliated with a WebSci initiative, so when I arrived in this country I had no idea WebSci was so big here.

Besides my predisposition to noticing the Dutch community, another consequence of living in the Netherlands for the last half year concerns my language. I used to have some limited German, such that back in 2005 I could at least order in a restaurant and discuss the cost of goods in a market. It turns out that learning Dutch has basically wiped that clear: I spent much of last week stumbling through a mishmash of half-Dutch, half-German… only to spend my first half-week back in the Netherlands speaking poor German to the locals. Whoops!

On a more work-oriented note, I am absolutely brimming with ideas after the two conferences. My current list includes giving consideration to:

  • a ‘Strange Hypertext Festival’ (as per the Narrative and Hypertext workshop)
  • some geocaching fun
  • some narrative hypertext fun
  • workshops for negative results (this idea was mentioned in both conferences)
  • Interesting Things with Spatial Hypertext

I opened this post with a promise to try and refrain from over-blogging WebSci’11. Cards on the table: I have two more posts to make, one on WebSci curricula and one on industrial-academic collaboration. Watch this space 😉


Settling into life in the Netherlands

I’ve been living in Eindhoven for nearly half a year already, and I’m stunned by how fast the time has flown: I guess I’ve been keeping busy!

Moving to any new town is always a big step, but of course changing country is bigger again. I found that it took me very little time to settle into practical aspects of life in Eindhoven — work, my flat, the supermarket. Of course, community and social aspects take a while longer. When I first arrived, I rather relished the concept of being utterly anonymous in this foreign town: no one knew me or expected anything of me (outside of work!), and that was quite liberating.

Had the situation stayed thus, I’m sure the joy of solitude would have turned into the emptiness of loneliness. But it didn’t, of course. I’ve found various friendship groups — obvious ones include colleagues, neighbours and expats, but I’ve also met people through my Dutch lessons, regular swims and a meditation group.

Nowadays, my time outside of work fills up easily. Weekends in particular get booked up very far in advance (it’s too easy to host visitors or explore interesting new cities). As a consequence, I’ve been appreciating my quiet evenings, when they do happen, very much indeed.