This weekend we’ve made a short trip to Eindhoven. My cousin moved back to Europe after spending a few years of suffering back in the home country. Believing that some stuff might have been changed when he was living in Europe, he moved back to Turkey for a while, did his time there and came back to Eindhoven. So the basis of the trip was visiting him. I usually enjoy our rather weird talks of us about super random, usually either scientific or political stuff. So I was excited and ready for some movement.
So first thing when we got together with my cousin was to go over our living standards, how stuff currently is in our lives and a little bit of friendly comparison. When I write it down like this, it might feel like jealousy in action, but in reality you need to compare yourself with some people you trust and know to just notice your options in life. I’ve seen and heard a lot of stories of people thinking they are getting paid the most in a particular company while the reality being the exact opposite. So I like friendly comparisons just to make sure I am doing as good as I can.
He simply landed on a jackpot of an job offer with 40 days of vacations which is amazing by itself but then also Eindhoven and Netherlands really impressed me with what it had to offer to skilled immigrants. During my time in Eindhoven I easily made a few observations maybe other nations can use for better easier integration. It was really interesting to see, the first time in my life, a community with a significant amount of immigrants is still able to preserve itself so nicely.
What do they do differently?
For starters, they are not really worried about their language or culture. All of the Dutch that i’ve seen were either laughing, telling me a joke, or unnecessarily happy in some other way. No one cared whether if I can speak their language or not, most of them knew english anyways like any modern european nation should, and more importantly, no one tried to talk with me in Dutch.
It peaked when we stopped by a local market when it was about to close, tried to get some cheese from locals. I think it was one of my best experiences that I’ve ever had, not because I don’t have many experiences to compare to but because it was really that good. I remember dutch as “happy, smiling, easygoing”, but when i try to remember a german, it feels the exact opposite. This got me thinking, why? Here’s the thing, when it comes to local-locals, from villages or small cities, Germany is really different when compared to Berlin. I don’t even assume they know english by any means, it’s usually a struggle when it comes to communicating. It’s also not really rare that you encounter someone who doesn’t really want to work with you at that moment, even if they are quite ok with using english normally because you are not German. Of course by the way, germans are never on top of the world, I’ve seen them simply worship one if that person is British or American.
I’ve encountered close friends who said stuff like
- It’s good that you don’t have many Turkish friends.
- You don’t act like other Turks I know, you act european(? whatever this even means).
- We are in Germany and we speak German here(from an official).
Which were not that important issues for me. I don’t look up for racism in details. As long as I can live happily, I am ready to accept that there will be some inconsistencies between what I think, and how people from a completely different background might think. This is not about it. But for some reason that I cannot explain well, I don’t believe I’ll experience similar things in Netherlands. Why? Here’s some simple differences.
- In Germany it’s quite possible to get lost without German knowledge, in Netherlands, english is enough for everything.
- In Germany, doesn’t matter if you are from a family of 3 generations of Germans or an newly landed immigrant, you’ll get the same exact posts and mails from government and private sector which are impossible to read if you don’t have another german to read and explain. It’s not about not knowing German, it’s about not understanding a thing from most documents, even if you know German just because they are written 90 years ago with words that no one uses anymore.
Simply put, the system in Germany is really not inclusive. While I see both sides of the discussion when it comes to immigration and expats living in Germany, I never really saw something done. I’ve seen Germany trying to immigrate less or more people in, but never saw much about improved living conditions for expats, or ant discussion related to this subject really. For example, being an expat granting you a nice tax cut for the initial years in Netherlands, I would say the only thing I’ve got from being an expat in Berlin, is even harder flat searching process then a German. You really notice this problem hard when you first need to your Anmeldung or your first tax return. And do you want to know how the dutchment is doing it?
They include English copies of them if you are an expat and they have a really good e-signature system for government applications which is a breeze to use with Google Translate.
In conclusion, I think I am convinced that Netherlands is a better place for immigrants to chose at the moment. There are of course some things in Berlin and/or Germany is really good, but in general I think I might even think about moving to Netherlands after a few more years of nice Berlin Doners :)…