Reviewed by Patricia Kooyman
Ready, Steady, Go Dutch is not really a book but rather a collection of snippets from a survey among expats living in The Netherlands.
I like the idea of gathering experiences of people with very different backgrounds going through the same experiences, but if you publish such a collection and ask to be paid for it I would have expected you to do some work on it. As it is, it is really only that – a collection of snippets. Very few editorial comments, hardly any synthesis, and the main conclusion? “How you react to the peculiarities of the Dutch way of doing things reflects your own origins”. Now THAT’s an eye-opener!
Yes, some people love a certain fact of life in The Netherlands while others hate that same fact. That would hold for ANY country.
I find some snippets have been formulated rather judgmentally, and I don’t think that’s due to my being Dutch. There are quite a few things in the way ‘we’ run our society that annoy ME on a daily basis, and most of those are indeed addressed in this book.
If you search hard you can find a few useful practical tips hidden in between lots of rather incoherent and not always very logically arranged snippets. Fortunately these are not completely anonymised, so you quickly realise that Victoria thought life would be the same all over the world (and maybe would have done better not to relocate instead of whining about differences between her childhood paradise and real life) whereas French is really trying to give some helpful tips and to enjoy life in a different country. But if you’re looking for practical information you will easily find many websites and forums that offer up-to-date info with useful ‘live’ answers to your particular personal questions. Some of those are listed at the end of the book. And if you’re looking for a relaxed and fun introduction to all that is different to foreigners coming to The Netherlands buy The Undutchables instead. Which fortunately is also in the list of recommended books.
Reviewed by Linda Radwan
Ready, Steady, Go Dutch was a fun book to read. I was amazed at the various experiences of people coming to the Netherlands and their view on the Dutch world. I have to say, being a foreigner myself in the Netherlands makes it easier to relate to some subjects. Yet with most of the subjects I could not relate at all. I think it also depends from which country you originally came from. If you came from the U.S., for example, it is normal to think that the Dutch customer service is low while my experience is that the Dutch customer service is quite high but that is in comparison to my own country. Also the idea of Dutch people being more laid-back in work is strange to me, having experienced nothing more than a truly hardworking, sometimes harsh mentality and exaggerated eagerness to stay late and finish one’s own work. But, once again, it depends from which country you came from.
So in conclusion, I liked the book. It was fun to read but I could not relate to most of the quotes. Perhaps that is not necessary but I would have liked more similarities that could have made me nod eagerly or make me laugh and think ‘Yes, that is exactly what I thought as well!’. I would have liked to identify myself more with the rest.
If you want to have an idea of what it’s like to live and work in the Netherlands then this book can be confusing because of the different opinions. But if you would like to know what people from different nations and cultures have experienced while living in the Netherlands then this book, thought up by Robin Pascoe and Deborah Valentine, is perfect.
You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.
A large part of the profit from Ready, Steady, Go Dutch will go to volunteer organisation ACCESS to help it continue providing information and advice to expats in the Netherlands.