This Sunday, at 2am, clocks in the Netherlands will “spring” forward one hour to 3am. So if you are in the Netherlands, your digital clocks will probably automatically adjust, but you’ll need to change wall clocks. If you’re in Australia and keep in contact with family or friends in the Netherlands, you may like to keep this change in mind.
Growing up in Queensland, Australia, I still remember the referendum for Daylight Savings Time in 1992, after a three year trial. The proposal to continue with daylight savings was defeated with 54.5% where observations were made such as “the cows will get confused” and “the curtains will fade” though I sometimes wonder if the media made that up!
Here in the Netherlands, I like the change to summer time – firstly, it makes me feel like I have officially survived the winter! It also heralds the start of the longer summer evenings, which I love. The warmth is also on its way.
Clocks are moved an hour back again in the last weekend in October.
More information in Dutch: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zomertijd and in English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_Time_in_Europe
My love affair with the Netherlands started 6 years ago, when I went to Europe from Australia for the first time – on a Contiki tour! My first stop was Amsterdam, before Berlin, Prague, Rome, Florence, Venice, and London. I can remember immediately liking Amsterdam, and that it was much more beautiful than I had imagined! My time was short, with a whirlwind 2 days participating in super touristy activities from riding bikes in Edam, visiting a Clog maker, eating cheese, sampling Heineken and sampling more Heineken in the Red Light District. After these 2 days in Holland, where I also ate the best fries in a cone of my life, I hoped in the future I could return for another much calmer visit.
Fast Forward to 2014. I had moved to London a year earlier to work and travel Europe on my weekends. On my first bigger trip (6 days in Morocco) with friends, I was fortunate enough to meet 2 lovely Dutch blokes over breakfast in my hostel. As hostels are the easiest places in the world to make friends (even if only for a day), my group of 4 friends and the 2 Dutch blokes decided to hang out for the day and sight-see Marrakech.
By dinner time that day, one of the Dutch blokes and I had become quite friendly and it was here, in the Jemaa el-Fnaa night market, that I realised I’d be going to Amsterdam again very soon!
And so 3 months later I flew to Amsterdam to visit my new Dutch friend and love blossomed. We embarked on a long-distance relationship between London and Amsterdam, exploring each-others cities on our weekends, or meeting up in new European cities in order to travel and see each other at the same time. Many of these travels feature on my travel blog Everywhere Bucket List.
Eventually, the discussions came about “Where are WE going to live?”. With my parents in Australia and his so close in Amsterdam, we made the decision that I would move to The Netherlands, where I didn’t speak the language, or have a job, or friends. Sounds like a good idea right?!
Well, it was the best idea ever! I love exploring my new city, and finding ways to feel at home even though things are more foreign to me here than in London. I love riding my bicycle to get around and enjoy how funny it still is to me when my bike is loaded up with groceries, plants, and even pots and pans! I have fallen into a deep love with Bitterballen that not even my fiercest new year’s resolutions can tame, and I’ve become part of a Dutch family that welcomes me into all of the interesting and quirky Dutch traditions.
I miss Australian weather and the ease of watching any television station and know what is going on immediately. Being able to pick up a newspaper, and listen to the radio djs discussing newsworthy topics (I’m taking more Dutch lessons soon though!). And I miss my family. We keep in touch regularly via whatsapp and we have a Skype date every Sunday, which keeps me connected so I don’t feel as far away as I am.
My Dutchie and I also live quite close to Drovers Dog – the Australian café – so when I’m feeling particularly needy for a dose of Aussie food and an accent, we head there for brunch and see if we can score a homemade lamington!
I don’t know what is to come for us or where we will settle down and have a family. We both enjoy living in Europe and having taken my Dutchie down to Australia last Christmas – he likes it there too! With positives and negatives for both places, I think that when the time comes to really decide where we will end up – that is not going to be easy! I love living in The Netherlands and feel privileged to be able to call it my home, and also call Australia home! Being in a two-nationality relationship gives us Australia and Holland as both of our homes forever, and I am alright with that!
Dutch Minister Ploumen (foreign trade and development cooperation) was inundated by responses to her call for a fundraising initiative for family planning programmes. She received thousands of messages from over 150 countries in 23 languages through both social and traditional media. The vast majority of responses were positive, with many indicating a desire to donate to a fund. To meet this demand, the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs, in cooperation with Dutch NGO Rutgers, is launching ‘SHE DECIDES – Global Fundraising Initiative’. Minister Ploumen: “The response to my call has been beyond expectation, with many positive reactions from around the world. It is heart-warming and inspiring that so many people from so many countries are standing up for the rights of women and girls.”
SHE DECIDES is a response to the Global Gag Rule; the decision last week by the American government to suspend annual funding, causing the closure of a range of family planning programmes that benefit many millions of women in developing countries. This could amount to $ 600 mn per year. The programmes offer a broad range of services: sexual education, birth control, maternal care and safe abortion for women who are forced to undergo the procedure. “This causes a huge funding gap that can only be filled by a strong international response from governments, aid organisations, businesses and individuals. We cannot let women and girls down. They should have the right to decide if they want to have children, when they want to have children, and with who they want to have children.”
More information, such as a video message from minister Ploumen and general information on the aims and methods of the initiative are posted on the website shedecides.eu The website also provides details of two bank accounts (a Dutch and international one) for those who wish to make individual donations. More information will be added in the coming days.
Last week minister Ploumen worked hard to involve other countries and organisations in SHE DECIDES and will continue to do so the coming week. Several countries and organisations have already responded positively. Awaiting an initial assessment of support for the initiative, the Dutch government pledged €10mn to the fund. Ploumen: “We obviously need far more money. Judging by the signals we have received so far, I trust we will come a long way towards safeguarding essential provisions not just for women, but for society at large.”
Though I type this in The Hague, with cold fingers, and -2 degrees outside, I have been making it a tradition to do an annual Australia Day post! While all of you there in Australia enjoy a holiday, I’ll be working tomorrow and the girls have school – and I always wonder whether to “celebrate” as it makes me quite homesick still. I’m sure I’ll wake up to lots of photos on my Facebook feed of sunshine and beaches and maybe backyard cricket and BBQs – but what Australia means most to me is still family and friends. Like I posted in my 2016 Australia Day post I’m still in favour of changing the day – you? And for something cute – check out my 2012 Australia Day post of the girls singing “Give me a home among the Gum Trees”.
For this year, I’m sure most of you have seen it, but here’s the Aussie Lamb ad. The video below also “rips it apart” (also very Aussie I guess!) but I enjoyed the sentiment of making Australia inclusive. The multiculturalism of Australia and the Netherlands is one of my favourite things, and I hope we can continue to find ways to live in harmony. Happy Australia Day! -Renee
One of the most popular articles on this website has been the “Quest to gain a Dutch Passport: Kelly & Nathan’s story”.
Unfortunately, I have lost touch with Kelly & Nathan, but if they are reading this, or you know them, please ask them to contact me, would be great to hear if they made any progress.
The comments have been very active over the last couple of years on this post, and you will see that attorney Jeremy Bierbach from Franssen Advocaten, has been supportive in answering questions.
Jeremy is originally from the USA but moved to the Netherlands in 2001 and has lived here since. He has focussed on immigration and European migration law for some time now.
If you would like to see if Jeremy can help you in your quest for (regaining) Dutch citizenship, please contact him via Franssen Advocaten.
Franssen Advocaten also has information on their website in English about many aspects of immigration law for the Netherlands:
- Family reunification
- Working in employment
- Permanent residence
- Dutch citizenship
- Civic integration
- Rights of EU citizens.
They can also assist with family law (divorce, children, maintenance).
You may also be interested in looking at their news section on their site, with recent articles including:
You are reading the ‘Dutch Australian’ blog, so chances are that you travel a lot by airplane. You will undoubtedly have heard numerous announcements at the airport, telling you where and when to board, informing you about safety regulations and keeping you updated about the delay of your flight. Did you ever wonder who these voices are and where they come from? Let’s find out.
Before automation of the announcements, they were made live, usually by a female speaker behind a microphone. At an international airport such as Amsterdam, you can’t get away with announcements in just Dutch and English, so the announcements were made in other languages as well. This was commonly done by the same person, who did not necessarily have a strong command of these languages. This often resulted in unclear messages and confused travellers.
The beginning of AviaVox
More than 20 years ago, one of the founders of the Dutch company that would later become AviaVox, travelled via Amsterdam Schiphol airport, heard these unclear messages and thought ‘this can be improved!’ This was the start of AviaVox, a company committed to developing voice announcement systems for airports and airlines with which clear and to-the-point announcements can be made in every possible language, without an actual speaker at the site. In the early years, the focus was on Western languages, but now AviaVox covers 30 languages – and counting, with a shifting focus towards the Asian market.
AviaVox is located in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Every day, staff are working on grammar rules, developing audio, closing deals with airports, and providing support and maintenance. About 60 language specialists and native speakers work for AviaVox to make sure that grammar and pronunciation are 100% correct. For each language that AviaVox provides, the backbone of the voice solution is a database of grammar rules that drives the composition of announcements from audio fragments, including details such as intonation and timing.
Different accents in English
Now, if you are Australian, you might ask: ‘English? Which English?’ That is a very appropriate question, with all the different accents in English-speaking countries in the world. AviaVox started off with developing British English, which was used by all its airport clients. But as their market expanded beyond Europe, American clients asked for their own accent in English, followed by airports in South Africa, Australia and India.
Melbourne Airport has already used the AviaVox system since 2014, using the British English accent. But Sydney Airport would rather use Australian English announcements within its airport. As AviaVox has a strong focus on the Australian market, it was recently decided to develop announcements in Australian English. An Australian speaker was flown over to the Netherlands to help create the master voice recordings from which the required voice database could be composed. After a full week of recording and many more weeks of audio processing, the Australian voice is now ready for usage in Sydney, and soon it will also replace the British English still used in Melbourne. AviaVox hopes to implement Australian English in more airports in Australia in the near future.
So the next time you travel to or from the airport of Melbourne or Sydney, linger a little longer to listen to the announcements. From the speakers at the gate you will hear beautiful Australian English, developed by a Dutch company. Dutch Australian!
By: Minke Lok