expatica fair 2012

“i am not a tourist” is a great slogan for this fair for Internationals living in The Netherlands short or long term, and is a wonderfully run event, organised by Expatica.nl.  Held on Sunday 7th October 2012 at the beautiful and very conveniently located Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, this is a must do on the annual calendar for anyone who would like to find lots of information about jobs, education, housing, international groups and clubs, and much more – all in one place.  Oh and entry was FREE if you had one of the give-away tickets or registered beforehand on the website.

I spent close to 5 hours at the fair and had the chance to chat to a lot of wonderful people, learn about and (re)connect with many expat-related businesses.  Being child-free on the day (I left my 3 & 5 year old at home with papa) meant I was able to move around more quickly, though there were services there for families on the day for those with kids.  I’m always grateful to fair organisers who take parents with young children into consideration.

There was SO much to see and do, and so many people to meet but here are some of my personal favourites from the day:

Nomad Parents

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting founders Lynn and Emilie not long after my arrival in NL a few months ago and it was lovely to see their smiling faces at the Nomad Parents stand (along with Vivienne from Simply Skin who is with them in the photo below).  These two are an absolute inspiration and guiding light for other international parents (or nomad parents!) and their website brings together a wide range of articles and information in English to help families settle in The Netherlands.   The resources, stories and information they bring together and share is a really important part of making Holland home for those with little ones.  This can often be overlooked or not as well understood by bigger companies but this website is easy to navigate and really useful. As a newly arrived parent myself (from Australia) with a 5 & 3 year old, this has been a wonderful resource and I’m thrilled to now also be a contributor and part of the upcoming webinar series.

nomad parents

Women’s Business Initiative International

I was thrilled to have the chance to gather a lot of really valuable information from the very personable, knowledgeable and generous-with-information-and-her-time, Suzy Ogé at the 1.45pm workshop “Starting a business in The Netherlands”.  I actually met Suzy around 7 years ago when the WBII had recently started and even though I moved (back) to Australia not long afterwards, I was really inspired by her vision and the whole concept.  I’ve actually stayed on the email newsletter list of the WBII whilst living in Australia and have always been impressed with the wonderful services they offer women (and some men) in business.  So now I’m back, and actually now relaunching my own business, Zestee, here next year, I think this will become a really valuable network for me (as it already is for so many).  Was really a delight to talk to Suzy even briefly after her workshop and I look forward to meeting up with her again sometime soon.  www.womensbusinessinitiative.net

Suzy and Renee

Amsterdam…The Essence

The magic of Facebook – I actually learnt about this book and connected with author, David Beckett, quite a while ago.  Was lovely to meet him, his wife and gorgeous new baby and have the opportunity to purchase a copy of his beautiful book.  Still need to find some time to read in more depth, but even flicking through, I love they style and concept of bringing together photos and stories about this amazing city.  Visit www.theessenceonline.com

Amsterdam The Essence

Alice in Cakeland

Divine cupcakes served by the lovely Vanessa.  I love her slogan – “Cupcakes make people happy” – and these ones sure do!  Reasonably priced and with over 30 flavours, how could this not be in anyone’s list of favourite expat-related businesses?  Based in Rotterdam, you can visit the shop from Wednesday to Saturday from 11am, and even join a cupcake workshop.  Visit www.aliceincakeland.nl for both english & dutch versions of the website (check out the cute cupcakes at the bottom to switch between the two!)

Alice in Cakeland

Amsterdam Mamas

Nice to have the chance to meet Emmy and the nice team of volunteers, who run a great website and also lots of events for Amsterdam parents – but those from “beyond the big city” also most welcome!  www.amsterdam-mamas.nl

Emmy Amsterdam Mamas

Bloggers unite

A really welcome new addition to this year’s fair (especially because I was part of it!) was the Expat Blog Competition.  You can still find the 22 entries over on the Expatica site and of these, the three finalists, MissNeriss, AmsterdamMama and Taal: Tale read parts of their posts on the main stage.  Congrats to MissNeriss on being the overall winner.  It was really good to  have the opportunity to showcase our blogs and connect with a few other bloggers face to face.

Expatica blogger finalists

Great giveaways

There were plenty of goodies being given out on the day too.  Undutchables had a great lunchbox, along with tips for internationals on surviving a dutch lunch break, very clever! The Expatcenter Amsterdam had a lovely informative notepad, Amsterdam Mama cute button badges, lanyards from booking.com.  My daughters favourites (which I bought home for them) were the bath ducks from In2Motivation and blow up balls from Voerman.  Lots of prize draws seemed to be happening regularly at the main stage.  I had a seat for one of these (as the raffle ticket numbers were on the seats) – and though there seemed to be winners all around our row we weren’t that lucky!

Workshops & Entertainment

I really enjoyed watching Clog Maker Koos Vreeswijk at work, and catching parts of the entertainment on the main stage.  There were a wide range of really interesting workshops, though I was so busy talking to people at individual stands I didn’t end up sitting in on any, apart from the Starting a Business in The Netherlands one mentioned above.  I also tried to book into the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting and Amsterdam Writing Workshop a few days before but both were already fully booked – so a tip for next year, book EARLY for the few workshops that do accept bookings in advance.

 A few other businesses I met that I talked to on the day: 

There are still so many more but this shows just the highlights of my great expat day out! Even now, a week after the fair, I’m still digesting the amount of quality information and contacts I collected on the day, and am likely to do so for some time yet.  If you’ll be in The Netherlands around this time next year, make sure you follow Expatica for details on the 2013 I am not a tourist Expat fair…see you there!   A big thanks Expatica for bringing the international community together for this fun and informative day.

expatica fair from above

Renée Veldman-Tentori

I’m a Dutch Australian, who blogs about my Life in The Netherlands and shares information, ideas and inspiration with others through this website as well as one on work family balance (Professional Parents).  I am also a social media and marketing specialist and offer consulting and training in this area through my business Zestee.

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