Archive for the ‘life as an expat’ Category

mixed identitiesAs you may have noticed, I’ve been away for a while. In the first two weeks of May I flew back to the Netherlands, since my family was expanded by two new, little creatures which I wanted to visit. It was wonderful: the weather was great, it felt good to be close to my family again and I met up with friends.

However, walking around in my old neighborhood, dropping by at what I once called the office and talking with friends over diners and drinks, can feel pretty weird as well. There’s not a place that you call home anymore and you’re a visitor in your own country. This makes you realize that you had it all: a career, your own apartment and a great social life in Amsterdam.. But I gave it all up, which made my visit hard as well.

Small steps
On the other hand, it really made me want to go back to Boston, to be able to work on my long term plans again. To continue building my new network and exploring the local industries in Boston. I couldn’t wait to look for new assignments, jobs or projects in the communication, PR or social media field. Since my new me, had to focus on building a life on the other side of the ocean. After several weeks of searching on the web, visiting network events and a drink with a well-known entrepreneur in Boston, the first steps are made.

To be continued..


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On the 4th of April I received a long awaited document. My employment authorization document arrived 76 days after I applied. A  few days later, I went to the Field Office to apply for my Social Security Number, which was delivered one week later. In total, it took me a little less than 3 months to get them both. So from now on, thanks to my J2-visa, I am eligible to work in the USA.

I will start as a self-employed copywriter and PR consultant. Hoping that in the near future I will get to know the local markets clustered around Harvard and MIT a little more.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Before I left Amsterdam, I had lunch with an former colleague, Michael Minneboo. Out of the blue he asked me if he could interview me about my blog and what it was about. Since it was only five days before our departure to Boston, I wasn’t really prepared for this question. However, Michael managed to make this video out of it. Well done, Michael!

I almost forgot, one of my main questions at that time was whether organisations in Boston integrate social media more easily in their business strategies or not.

My first impression
After three months, I have noticed that I could visit events, meetups or seminars where marketeers, community managers, PR and other communication professionals get together on a weekly basis, if I wanted to. Discussing social media strategies, sharing best practices or other valuable information.

In addition, all restaurants and cafés have a Twitter handle, a Facebook page and provide special offers on Foursquare. Hospitals use social networking tools to inform patients. Social media policies are integrated in introduction programs for employees. An incubator like MIT turns Cambridge into a breeding place for innovative start-ups like no university in the Netherlands is capable of. (I sincerely hope the TU in Eindhoven is, one day). Start-ups and communication agencies all seem to have a blog, which is regularly updated and not only by the junior PR executive. And the entire team, including the CEO, is engaging with audiences on Twitter.

On the other hand,  most corporations still struggle with transparency. 25% of the companies ban social media at work, compared to only 8 % in the Netherlands…

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The chocolate cheesecake we had during the Sunday Brunch at the Pringle‘s

It was Saturday, February 12, when a  lady in a lunch bar – it was packed – offered us her table. She just had a few drinks with her husband and was about to leave anyway. The conversation that followed indicates how different the Dutch think about Valentine’s Day compared to the Americans 🙂


Wim: Oh, thanks very much.

Lady: You’re welcome, have a happy Valentine’s day.

Wim: Is that today?

Lady (astonished): Boy, you’re in trouble!

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What was I expecting before we left Amsterdam and moved to Boston? I didn’t really have a clear picture in my head. The only thing I thought of was that it probably would feel like being on a holiday in the first two or three weeks. Since we had so many things to arrange before we could actually leave, arriving on the other side of the ocean would give us some sort of relief as well. Did it really? (more…)

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Woensdag 19 januari heb ik een stapel kopieën en formulieren opgestuurd naar the US Department of Homeland Security. Blij dat ik in Amsterdam nog zo helder van geest ben geweest om een uittreksel van ons huwelijk te halen overigens. Als alles goed gaat, heb ik ergens half april 2011 mijn werkvergunning binnen en mag ik dus ook in de Verenigde Staten aan de slag. Om me in de tussentijd tevreden te houden, kwam Wim vandaag met een prachtig cadeau aanzetten…


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Uitzicht op de stad vanuit Central Park

Na onze eerste week in Boston stapten we zaterdagochtend in de bus. Voor slechts 30 dollar werden we in  3,5 uur later door de Fung Wah bus afgezet in New York, midden in China Town. Samen met vrienden uit Nederland die een reisje naar the Big Apple cadeau hadden gekregen – niet verkeerd natuurlijk – struinden we de straten af.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do.

So we did. Soort van dan. (more…)

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