Monday 15 March 2010

Boost your creativity with the basics of living abroad

Apparently, the best way to train your creativity is to live abroad for a while, because you’re forced to find new ways to solve problems. That’s a great consolation. At least I gain some personal development from having to fight for things that come naturally in the Netherlands.

Battles I’ve won so far include:

• Housing – I live close to a tube station, the room is cheap, and my landlord pays all electricity bills and council taxes.

• Being allowed to vote in the UK.

• Work – I’ve got a National Insurance Number and a brilliant job.

Still pending: opening a basic bank account. I’ve tried every high street bank, to no avail. It’s not that I’m very demanding. I don’t even need a credit card – though I’d like one – all I’m asking is a current account. But I need an electricity bill with my name on it as proof of address. How am I supposed to pay those bills, if I don’t have a bank account? And how am I supposed to pay them, if my employer can’t pay my salary into a bank account? Really, it’s not just me, other Dutchies in London have similar experiences. Fortunately, I have enough savings to support myself until I’ve sorted things out.

Not everything is problematic, though. The National Health Service is a delightful example of something I didn’t have to fight for at all. They provide free medical treatment for everyone that needs it: foreigners, criminals, people without proof of address... you name it. In the Netherlands, it’s a legal requirement to have a private health insurance. Being used to that system, I thought it might be wise to check out what’s on offer in England. Considering the theme of my novel, this might come as a surprise but I really care a lot about my teeth. I want to look good when I smile, and I want that sparkle to be my own. Dental treatment can be very costly, even on the NHS. So, as soon as I’ve got a current account, I’ll apply for a dental insurance. I can’t wait!


  1. You're allowed to vote in the UK? How did you pull off that trick without UK passport?

  2. And you actually want to vote here? More than many natives do.

  3. 'I want to look good when I smile' - For me just the first part would do...

  4. In the European ballot, yeah. Not when you're trying to figure out who should be your new PM though. Makes sense, because I can still vote in the Dutch elections, so it would be silly if I suddenly had twice as much influence.