Welcome to the lovely city of Arnhem. As nice as Arnhem is, as an expat I had my share of a cultural shock when I moved here.
For starters I had no idea where you can find Arnhem on the map or anything really about the city. Maybe once in school you heard of the famous war battle around the “Bridge of Arnhem”.
I moved to Arnhem from quite a big city in Germany (Munich) with my 7 month old son and my husband.
When we left Munich I was on maternity leave so it was the perfect moment for my husband to get promoted at work.
As a German you would think it`s not much of a difference to live in the Netherlands, but I was quite surprised how different these two countries were.
On one hand Dutch people are very open and friendly, helpful and happy. But on the other hand it is really hard to make Dutch friends. This is probably true for anyone moving to a new place without a support group in place.
But the first problem is, where the heck to meet people?
As a woman who is not working with a little baby in Arnhem – Oh, it can get a little lonely.
There are not so many possibilities in a city like Arnhem in comparison to Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam or Den Haag, which are very international. Especially for moms who can`t leave the house in the evening to join a sports club, meetup groups or the pub quiz. By the way there are only pubs in the city center but not much happening when you live in Arnhem South. I haven’t actually seen a pub around here.
Well actually I was not searching for bars I was looking for playgroups and other moms to push the pram with for hours through the streets of Arnhem.
But here we have the next problem: a lot of Dutch mothers go back to work 3 months after giving birth, part-time for sure, but still. So common baby – mother groups as I knew them from Germany (Pekip for example) just don’t exist.
Of course if you search online you will find some interesting pages like Arnhemsemoeders , but still not so easy to have an overview, when you don’t speak the language. In the same time I started going to a Dutch Playgroup called Wandelwagensoos. It was nice for my son to meet other little children but if you don’t speak Dutch, it is quite hard to get in contact with the “grown-ups”. I also enjoyed the baby swim classes in the pool called Grote Koppel . They do a really good job there, but it is still not so easy to get close with other mothers as we are busy watching our own children.
I joined a coffee morning at the international school and I realised that I am not totally alone as an expat, we are in a little city but still there are some international people. So I just had to find them. That’s when I met Manuela from the International Resource Centre she does really good city tours and also wrote a little book with a lot of helpful information for expats in Arnhem and the surrounding areas. During her work she met a lot of expats and with her help I met some really nice people.
One of them was Sophie, she is English and married to a Dutch guy with two little boys. It didn`t take us long to decide we have to set up an international playgroup. Now only after 3 years it is a fantastic, familiar warm group of people from all over the world. It is called “Tots and Tea” and more than seventy (Yes! That is 7-0!) women have joined our playgrop since 2015. On average there are 8 – 10 mums at our weekly meetings.
It is for children between 0-4 years. The group meets every Thursday, at someone’s home or outside, depending on the weather. If your children are older than 4 years and you want to meet other international parents, there is another play date for school children every 3rd Wednesday of the month. If you want more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are very welcome to join. You can find us on our FB Page.
After I settled a bit more I really realised how many great things you can do in and around Arnhem with children. You have all the little farms and playgrounds inside and outside, the zoo, parks and so much more. Arnhem really is a very child-friendly place. Have a look in our website for places to visit.
Based on my experience, Arnhem is not the easiest place to get settled in as an expat, but it is for sure a city where you can raise your children in a very good way. Be open to new things; be curious of the culture and the people. Tell the Dutch people they should stop talking English to you, so you can learn and practice the language.
I wish you a great time in Arnhem and maybe I will see you one day on a play date or at some of our other great events.
Another good page to look at, if you search for attractions is Kids proof
And last but not least some interesting expat pages:
Posted by Sina.