It’s officially summertime! It is so great to sit outside in the evening on the terraces of local bars and restaurants, and the weather makes it very easy for us to meet new people around the city! Meet Kate D’Anvers who also enjoys the good weather, she is from New Zealand and she is a child and family psychologist helping mostly expat families. Even though she doesn’t live in Haarlem, she works here and adores the city, and has some very good tips about what to do in the area!
1. Where are you from?
2. Why did you leave your home country?
A long while ago I moved to Vietnam on a whim and went from being a regular child psychologist to a psychologist working with international ‘Third Culture Kids’. The challenges faced by the children and their families I worked with were similar in many ways but the added social and cultural challenges were really interesting to me. I loved it. Since then I have stayed abroad!
3. How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I was lucky enough to be offered a chance to work at an International School here and jumped at the chance. It was an amazing opportunity which has allowed me to understand much more, both professionally and personally, about being an expat.
4. Why did you choose to live in Haarlem?
I don’t live in Haarlem but I work here. I love that it has the same picturesque beauty as Amsterdam but with more charm and less noise and tourists.
5. If you found it hard to settle down in another place, what were the things that helped you get over the hard times?
As an adult I think that it is generally easier for me because I chose to be here, I have a lot of control over when I can go home, speak with family and plan new adventures. On the other hand, I work with a lot of children and teenagers who are really homesick and finding it hard to adjust to being here. This, of course, puts a lot of pressure on Mum and Dad who are also trying to find their feet and may be struggling with some homesickness themselves.
I think that it is really important to listen and not try and ‘fix things’ initially. Maintain routines, especially family routines you may have from your previous country. Make sure that you and your family discuss choices that are made so that everyone can feel some sense of control, and find ways to replicate some of the things that are missing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – lots of others who seem to have everything so well put together really struggled in their early days as well. Also, get involved in the community but go slowly; adjusting to major changes like moving countries can take time.
6. What do you do for a living?
I’m a child and family psychologist. I work mostly with expat children and teenagers (and their parents). As well as dealing with expat issues like settling in and potential future moves, I also help young people learn skills to manage their anxiety, frustration or sadness, manage social issues, behavioural challenges, sibling or parent conflicts and school resistance, as well as navigate their way through big life changes like death or divorce. It’s really interesting, enjoyable work!
7. Do you have a hobby or any other activity you enjoy doing?
In summer I love throwing a bottle of wine and some snacks into a backpack and cycling in no particular direction with some friends. We always find some great little places to stop and enjoy.
In winter, which is an entirely new experience for me, I take every opportunity I get to go out and enjoy the magic that is snow. Apart from that, travelling and experiencing new cultures and cuisines is always at the top of my list.
8. In your opinion what is the hardest thing about being an expat?
It’s a strange thing to be in a position where you need to actively make friends as an adult. It can be tough having to put yourself out there and meet new people, especially when it’s cold and raining. Also, when I was new I was often in a hurry at the supermarket and came home with things I definitely didn’t intend to have! Turns out that goat milk doesn’t work well in coffee.
9. In your opinion what is the best thing about being an expat?
The freedom to travel in Europe, easily and cheaply, is amazing!
10. Do you have a story about Haarlem and the locals? What is it?
In my first week in Haarlem I dropped my wallet. It had cash and my museum card in it but nothing else that could identify me. Some kind soul in Haarlem found it and handed it into a nearby café. The café owner kindly took the trouble to contact the Museum Card people who in turn contacted me and I got my wallet back! What a great introduction to a great city!
11. What are the things you love most about living in the Netherlands, Dutch people and the culture in general?
I love how easy it is to get around and how different each city is. In under an hour I can be in a completely different place – weekend exploring is a must! I love the beer culture and how, when the sun comes out, so do all the people!
12. Do you have a favourite Dutch dish you would recommend?
Haha, is this a trick question?
13. What are the things you like most about Haarlem?
It has everything you need from a city but in a compact size. There is a great variety of bars and restaurants, the people are friendly, it’s super easy to get around and oh so pretty.
14. What is your favourite Haarlem moment?
A favourite Haarlem memory is walking around during the really cold patch earlier this year. The canals had frozen, everything was blanketed in snow and everything was so quiet, still and beautiful.
15. What are the favourite places you like to go out to eat and/or drink in Haarlem?
Uiltje is a favourite for its ever-changing selection of local beers. Spaarne 66 is a great little place for snacks on the river in the sun and Native is a cute spot with great coffee and cake.
16. What do you think are the must-see locations in Haarlem?
My favourite is Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. It’s a beautiful park with cows and sand dunes and bike trails and lakes. It’s lovely all year round and an easy 15-minute bike ride from Central Haarlem.
17. If you could give only one piece of advice to fellow expats who are new to Haarlem what would it be?
Get a museum card! Haarlem has some great museums and, with a museum card, almost all of them are free! Once you are done with the museums in Haarlem, the card gets you to access to most of the museums around the rest of the country!
If you would like to contact Kate feel free to reach out to her!
Kate’s website: www.fineyoungminds.nl
Phone: 062191 9710