Pitched at “global citizens with local needs”, the 2017 IamExpat Fair was the 2nd annual edition held in The Hague. Held today, 4 November 2017, in the beautiful Grote Kerk in The Hague, this was the first time I’d been inside this building, though I’ve walked past it many times.
Even on a grey, rainy day, the stained glass window shone brightly and caught my our attention.
I’m a veteran of expat fairs in The Netherlands, I’ve been to more than I can count over the last 10 years or more. I’ve worked in the past for both Expatica (who host the annual I am Not a Tourist Fair in Amsterdam as well as a dedicated Job Fair there, and have recently launched a fair in Eindhoven) and TheHagueOnLine who has hosted expat fairs in The Hague for over a decade.
I found the IamExpat Fair in The Hague professional and pleasant, with a focus on career and services such as legal and tax. It was smaller than the other fairs I’ve been to but still plenty of information available. Overall, the main attraction for me at expat fairs are to gather relevant up-to-date information in English about living in the Netherlands. After a total of 10 years now living in NL (though this has been broken up into two time periods with a few years in Australia in between), I already have a lot of contacts and experience, but usually also discover new connections and organisations, and catch up with a few favourites, including: ACCESS (a non profit who has provided english language information and support in NL for 30 years), DutchNews (daily news for NL in english) and XPat Media (a range of publications for expats). The Hague Tourist Information was also there, showcasing the best of this great city.
I’ve found that my needs are changing over the years, so this time I spoke to representatives for services that didn’t really interest me in the past, such as S&S Pension Consultancy to start thinking about what I should do about having pension funds in two countries, Van Buttingha Wichers Notarissen (Lawyers) about updating my will, and Blue Umbrella about my personal and freelance business tax.
My two girls, aged 8 & 10, came along with me and I told them that if they were lucky, some of the stands would be giving away things. They sure weren’t disappointed. Within a minute of walking in, MyGym, a new children’s fitness centre in The Hague, approached them both with a ball. Not long after, Big Ben Kids gave them a balloon. Several other stands also offered balloons but they couldn’t carry another and this mama refused to become a walking balloon holder! They added a stress ball and several “snoepjes” (sweets) to their stash along the way, and then they went on the hunt for the rubber ducks they had seen others with and found them at the In2Motivation stand.
My youngest also had her face painted by Zein International Childcare in the kids corner.
There were several seminars and workshops I had checked out in advance, but with the kids I didn’t attempt to join as they were about 40 minutes each. I saw eager queues ready to take part though. The job section was also popular with a queue to talk to organisations such as UnDutchables.
Being an expat is an amazing experience but can sometimes be tough. So it was great to see personal development, coaching and mental health services represented such as PsyQ International, Anti-Loneliness, and Kuhler en Trooster International Mental Health.
My own employer was there, The Hague University of Applied Sciences (where I work part time as a lecturer), promoting their english-language Masters programmes (MICM, MBA, MFMC). I can recommend these with personal experience as I recently graduated from there with an MA for a Masters in International Communication Management (MICM) – you can read more about my studies and research over on my Zestee blog, where I wrote my thesis on “How can elearning enhance study success at THUAS?“.
I wasn’t able to stay long, even with all the distractions and give aways, my kid’s attention span is short, and it was quite busy. But we enjoyed the hour or so we were there, so thank you to IamExpat for bringing together internationals in The Hague to share experiences, information and services. Hope to see you next year! For further details and to keep up to date on upcoming Fairs but also for general information about living in the Netherlands, visit https://www.iamexpat.nl