Being a former ‘expat kid’ I’ve noticed that people like to put us in boxes. Just like there are boxes for women, Muslims, Americans and so on, internationals have their own little box. When I told my friends I got a job at the International Community Platform (ICP) – representing over 30 multinationals in The Netherlands and aiming to improve the quality of international life – some of them sarcastically answered, “Right, because expats have such a hard life.” This reaction demonstrates the common preconception that people often have of expats: men with an international contract, approximately 4 year stay, a high salary and a wife who does not want or need to work.
But what about the Indian man who comes to The Netherlands to stay because the love of his life is Dutch? The intern from France that would like to build up experience in a foreign country? The highly educated Danish spouse who is eager to continue to develop his/her professional career? Or even me? Despite being Dutch I have often felt a complete foreigner, as I grew up mostly abroad.
The point is: the international community is heterogeneous. Moreover, it is a remarkably large group. I was surprised to hear that ICP estimates the international community in The Netherlands, with all its diversity, to consist of approximately 500.000 people! It is important to acknowledge this as a starting point to identify the wishes and needs of different types of internationals.
It is clear that our ‘country guests’ are a huge asset to the Dutch economy. All the more important to continue to attract them to come, stay and promote a life-career in The Netherlands upon their departure. How? Only by understanding the diversity of internationals, their heritage and expectations, can we cater to their needs. Let’s start by taking them out of that little expat box.
About the author: Anne van Rossum
Anne has lived in 5 countries around the world and has been back in her ‘home country’ The Netherlands since 2005. She obtained her Master of Business Administration specialising in Human Resource Management in 2010. She continues to be fascinated by motivational theories in life-careers in general and in expatriation in particular. Conducting research and connecting people with shared goals form the common themes in her career. Currently Anne works as a Researcher and Project Manager at the International Community Platform (ICP).
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As a Dutch and global citizen Anne strives to bridge the gap between the local and global communities. By aligning international demand and local supply countless opportunities exist to improve the quality of international life. Check-NL was initiated by ICP, and has invited Anne to share her thoughts in the form of this blog. Follow Check-NL for inspiring guest bloggers from around the world.