Every year some 40,000 Dutch people emigrate abroad, reports the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

Some of them are sent across the border as expats.

How do you like working in their (temporary) new home country?

And do they actually still want to return to the Netherlands?

This time we ask Renate van der Wal in England.

  • Who:

    Renate van der Wal

  • Position:

    Associate Director Consumer at LEWIS Global Communications

  • Where:

    London, England

  • Expat since:


How did you end up in London?

"My parents have always been fans of England. London used to be the place where we ended our holidays. That made me love the city. When I worked for LEWIS in the Netherlands for a few years and was ready for a new challenge, I I had the opportunity to take over a similar job in London in 2016. That's when I embarked on the adventure. "

What exactly do you do for work there?

"I am Associate Director Consumer and I work for companies that focus on consumers in their communication. My main focus is strategy and planning."

How did your environment react to your move?

"The first thing people said to me when I told them was: then you can say goodbye to your free time. Of course it is hard work here, but that was also the case in the Netherlands."

What did you have to get used to most?

"The English are really a lot more polite. Even if I sometimes think that I am less direct, I have to come back to a statement every now and then when I see how they react. As far as work is concerned, much remained the same. I already knew how everything went with me. This company works. But the switch to 24/7 thinking, writing and talking in English took some getting used to. The first few weeks I was really tired after a day of work. "

"Both Dutch and English are not averse to a bit of self-mockery, so in that respect it's a good match."

Do the English and the Dutch differ much from each other?

"Both Dutch and English are not averse to a bit of self-mockery, so in that respect it is a good match. I also notice that people here really like that you have a different cultural background. They find it very interesting to hear how everything is going on in the Netherlands. "

So you've made a lot of friends already?

"Yes, many international friends too. Social media are a real godsend when you move abroad. In the beginning I looked a lot on Facebook to see if there were meetings in the area where I could meet new people. It makes a difference. I went to London on my own. I immediately threw myself into everything. "

What do you like most about London?

"The international community. People from all over the world live here. And you have a great cultural offer. I like to go to a neighborhood with a city guide; every part of the city is different. When it comes to food, you can also enjoy your heart here. You have so many different cuisines here. I recently saw a Sri Lankan restaurant. I would like to try it. "

Are you going back to the Netherlands again?

"I've been here for almost five years now and those years have really flown by. Sometimes I think: have I been here for so long now? I can see myself going back to the Netherlands, but I don't know when exactly. I look at that every year. Working here really enriches my life. "