10: Life As A Dutch Expat In Thailand
Learn what it is like living abroad in Southeast Asia, as I talk with Frey and her family’s experiences as expats from the Netherlands and living in Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand.
Table of contents
- Where are you from and where have you lived abroad?
- What similarities are there between the Netherlands and Thailand?
- What are the differences?
- What do you enjoy the most about living in Thailand?
- What is the hardest part of living abroad?
- How has living abroad benefitted you and your family?
- Other episodes you may like
- Listen to this episode
- Show Notes links
Where are you from and where have you lived abroad?
Frey was born and raised in The Netherlands. She studied at The Hotelschool in The Hague for four years, during which time she went on two international internships. The first one was in Marne-La-Vallee, France where she worked at one of Euro Disney’s hotels.
The second internship was in Sandals, Antigua W.I. at a couples-only resort. In 2007 Frey’s boyfriend (and now husband) transferred to Singapore, so she followed and got a job there. After Singapore, they lived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for four years, then in Phuket, Thailand for four years, and now in Bangkok, Thailand for two years, so far.
What similarities are there between the Netherlands and Thailand?
There is a strong Dutch community in Thailand at around 4,000 people. Frey grew up playing field hockey with her brothers and parents, and she has been able to enjoy the game again in Thailand. There are even Dutch men’s and women’s teams for field hockey. Dutch expats can celebrate Sinterklaas (with a few variations) at the embassy as well.
Bicyclists are a staple in The Netherlands, but they are not nearly as common in Thailand. Recently, Frey purchased a bike so she can bring her daughter to school in a real Dutch manner.
What are the differences?
In The Netherlands, people communicate bluntly and in a straightforward manner. In Thailand, it’s almost the opposite; Thai people are vague and beat around the bush when they are asking for something.
As mentioned earlier, bikes are common in The Netherlands so drivers are very aware of them and it’s safe for bicyclists. However, bikes are rarer in Thailand so drivers are not used to watching out for them.
What do you enjoy the most about living in Thailand?
Bangkok is a great hub for travel. Places like Singapore, Cambodia, and Myanmar are accessible. There is also a variety of destinations, from big cities to beaches to historical landmarks.
It has also been a great opportunity for Frey and her family to learn about history through a different lens. For example, the United States refers to the Second Indochina War as the “Vietnam War” and in Vietnam, it’s known as the “American War”.
Another enjoyable part of living in Thailand is that the schools host their extra-curricular activities. Instead of having them located at different places, all the activities are at the school and they happen directly after school hours. This makes it incredibly easier for Frey to navigate her kids to and from their activities.
What is the hardest part of living abroad?
During the last ten-plus years of living abroad, Frey has been able to travel to visit her family once every year. With the current travel restrictions due to the coronavirus, travel is . . . difficult, to say the least.
Over the years, Frey has overcome the homesickness from her early days of living abroad, but now that she doesn’t know when she can see her family again, the homesickness has returned.
How has living abroad benefitted you and your family?
Frey and her family have had new opportunities (related to culture, travel, and work) that they otherwise would not have received if they stayed in The Netherlands. Their experiences abroad have truly enriched their lives.
From a young age, her kids have been exposed to so many cultures. They learn about their Dutch heritage from Frey and her husband, Myanmar culture from their nanny, and Thai culture from school and friends. As third culture kids, they also are learning how to adapt to new situations and experiences which is an incredibly valuable skill.
Other episodes you may like
- Life As A Global Nomad
- Life As A Brazilian Expat in the Netherlands
- 20: Life as a UK Expat in Europe
- 18: Life As A Bangladeshi in the Netherlands
Listen to this episode
Show Notes links
Born and raised in The Netherlands, Frey has been living in Southeast Asia for the past decade. For as long as she can remember, her passion was to work in the hospitality industry and see the world. Hotelschool The Hague was a great starting point, where she was able to work in France and the Carribbean during her internships. Not only that, she also met the love of her life there.
When in 2007 her then boyfriend, now husband, was transferred to Singapore, she joined him for an experience of a lifetime. More than a decade later they are still living in Southeast Asia. With 2 young kids they now call Bangkok their (temporary) home, and she can’t wait what the future holds for them.
Follow her adventures on Instagram