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65 connections dec2015

Jul 24, 2016



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Connect International serves the international community in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe.

Attention Writers!Enjoy Writing?The Connections Newsletter is seeking volunteer writers who enjoy writing on a theme, informative articles, or opinions they want to share. Interested? Contact us

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Supported by an international staff and Board of Directors, we provide quality relocation services and practical information to help familiarize international residents with all aspects of living, working or studying in the Northern Netherlands, as well as organizing events and activities to make connections.


Connect International would like to welcome the following new members:

Victoria Proano, Vadim Kadnikov, Angela Greco, Nurul Afiqah Multaza, Claudia Yamu, Xin Zhao, Chris & Jan Eysermans, Ramon Richie, Benon Fuertes, Ria Purnama Sari, Bobbi Wise, Yiran Wang

Welcome New Members!Serv ices :

Jo in Us !You can register to become a Connect International member via our website. For a small yearly fee, you receive the Connections e-magazine newsletter delivered directly to your email inbox, you have access to the Connect International community through organized events, you can ask us any questions you may have and much more.


● Immigration services● Home search & set-up● Social events, activities & clubs● Career services● Business events● Books & guides● Knowledge database

Connect International

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Contact : Publ ica t ion Team:Connect International office:Gedempte Zuiderdiep 98, GroningenPostbus 16, 9700 AA GroningenTelephone: 050 7440087Email: info@connect-int.orgWebsite:

Publisher: Stephanie Fermor-PoortmanAssistant Editor: Margaret MetsalaContributers to this issue: Stephanie Fermor-Poortman, Alexandra van den Doel, Margaret Metsala

Interested in advertising in Connections E-Magazine?Advertising Rates per Issue (10 issues per year) : 1/4 Page (12.5 x 9.5 cm) €25,00 1/2 Page (12.5 x 19 cm) €50,00 1 Page (A4 - 21 x 29.7cm) €100,00

Contact for more details.

Connect International has a full membership

Information Center

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Health Insurance RenewalYou may have already had a letter or email from your current health insurance provider outlining your new premiums for 2016 and any changes made to your insurance. And it may seem like a daunting idea, but now is the time to check that your health insurance covers what you need it to.

Any changes you may wish to make to your health insurance need to be made before 31 December 2015, else you will be fixed into your health insurance for the coming year. So check it meets your needs, and also consider anything that may happen during 2016.

Thinking about starting a family in 2016? Check what and how much you are covered for, such as hospital birth, kraamzorg etc. Recently gotten glasses? Think about if you need these covered in your health insurance. Need dental cover? Maybe a trip to the physiotherapist?

Or maybe you are paying more than you need to? Shop around for a better premium (while keeping in mind what is covered). It can’t hurt to check.

Now is the time to check and make any changes to your health insurance!

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December 2015

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Primary Education & Secondary Education SchoolsBasisonderwijs & Voortgezet onderwijs

North Netherlands 19 December 2015 - 3 January 2015 Week 52 - 53

Mid-Netherlands 19 December 2015 - 3 January 2015 Week 52 - 53

South Netherlands 19 December 2015 - 3 January 2015 Week 52 - 53

School Holiday Dates

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Sinterklaas PartyFriday 4 December 2015, 20:00 hrs - 22:00 hrs@ Het Pakhuis (Groningen)

Culinary Connect: The bûche de NoëlTuesday 8 December 2015 at 13:00 hrs. Winsum @ Adeline’s house

Book Club: a potluckThursday 10 December 2015 at 20:00 hrs. Groningen @Rachel’s house

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International Coffee MorningFriday 11 December 2015 at 10:30 hrs@ V&D’s LaPlace (Groningen)

Beauty Club: Eyebrow ThreadingSaturday 12 December at 15:00 hrs@ Groningen, TBA

Pub NightFriday 18 December 2015 at 18:00 hrs@ O’Malley’s Pub (Groningen)

Connect International Events

Stranger Things Have HappenedThursday 3 December 2015@Simplon, GroningenMore info:

Stranger Things Have Happened - Improv Comedy CourseTuesday 8 December 2015@Usva, GroningenMore info:

Roden Boys Choir & Roden Girl Choristers Christmas ConcertWednesday 16 December 2015 at 19:30 hrs@ Leeuwarden, Grote KerkTickets:

WinterWelVaart18 - 20 December 2015@Groningen, quaysides of the Hoge and Lage der A

Roden Boys Choir: Festival of Lessons and CarolsThursday 24 December 2015 at 19:30 hrs@ Groningen, Der Aa-kerkTickets:

Other Events

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At Christmas time I always suffer a bout of home sickness. Even though my life is here in the Netherlands with my husband, his family and our friends, Christmas stirs happy memories (and longing) of family get-togethers, decorating the Christmas tree while my dad muttered curse words while hanging up the window lights, and the warm fuzzy glow of Christmas day traditions like the queen’s speech and smell of a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, followed by a nap.

Christmas Turkey Dinner

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Taste ofhome

For the last few years I haven’t been able to make it back to my family in the UK during the Christmas break, so instead I have focused on building our own family Christmas traditions, including cooking a large Christmas dinner, complete with a turkey and all the trimmings.

The hardest part of planning Christmas day is finding where to buy a turkey (’Kalkoen’). In the UK, supermarkets have shelves full of fresh and frozen turkeys to choose from, but it isn’t as easy (or as cheap) to get hold of a whole turkey here in the Netherlands.

If you have a large budget, I would recommend a visit to your local butcher (’Slager’). Many butchers will take pre-orders for turkeys in the run up to Christmas (and you will need to pre-order to ensure you get one). Tell them how many people you will be feeding and they will try to get you a turkey that is the right size, although it always depends on supply; but the leftover turkey isn’t a problem in our house! They will clean the turkey and usually for an additional fee you can have it stuffed, seasoned, with bacon on top and in an oven ready bag so you

by Stephanie Fermor-Poortman

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Taste of home

don’t have to do anything at all (except get it in the oven in time). Last year my in-laws bought the turkey, it was a large 7kg turkey (enough for 8-10 people), was oven ready and cost €90.

Another option would be a fresh turkey from a supermarket. Since last year a number of the big name supermarkets have stocked whole turkeys in the run up to Christmas (or have an order service). Usually the turkeys in store are on the smaller side, but with the order service you can get larger turkeys. Turkeys from supermarkets will come cleaned, but not stuffed or seasoned etc and you will look at paying €7-€9 per kg.

If ordering your turkey, give at least 1 week notice (if not 2), else you may be disappointed.

Here are places where you can order a turkey from (other butchers and supermarkets may also be selling turkeys, so ask at the store for more info).

AH - Order online at, they will also have smaller turkeys (2-3kg) for sale in larger stores.

Plus – Available from 21st Dec in store (not all stores will have stock in, so ask in store to be sure.)

Jumbo – Available to order in larger stores at their butcher counter.

Keurslager (butcher with many shops across the Netherlands) -

Slagerij Patrick (Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 106, Groningen) -

Besides the turkey, most other traditional side dish ingredients are readily available in supermarkets.

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Places to go Things to see

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Growing up on the Canadian Shield, my teachers would say we were living on the oldest rocks on the planet. Our glacier scarred hills were once mountains. To the west lay an ancient sea and to the north and east lay a great rift filled by Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon where great lava flows cap a jagged northshore landscape. Beyond this stand great rolling hills that were once in the massive magma chamber of an ancient volcano and are now captured for the world to see in paintings by the Group of Seven.

Once There Were Mountainsby Margaret Metsala

Once upon a time, when earth contained little life, there was a gentle sea. Now the violently fractured and glacier scraped landscape bears witness to the beginning of an explosion of life on earth - stromatolites. The blue green algae that produced earth's first breathable atmosphere form columns of fossils called stromatolites. A visitor centre at Kakabeka Falls has polished cross sections to view.

Stromatolites are the oldest fossils on earth. This summer I sought them out in the wild with Hans on a hike to Schreiber Channel on the shore of Lake Superior. Before entering the woods, the rugged trail crossed a cobble beach with pools of water trapped in outcrops of bedrock hosting

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Places to go Things to see

butterwort, twisted cedars, and tiny bluebells. Higher up were low spreading junipers and trailing mats of bearberry. The thick woods held ladyslipper orchids, ghostly white Indian Pipe, and sphagnum moss moist with yesterday's rain.

The trail, advertised as "groomed", was not. It was worse than 12 years ago but government funding provided a nice new parking area. Persisting through deadfalls and detours we made our way along the overgrown trail and the effort paid off as we crossed cobbled beaches of long ago when the land rose from the weight of the glaciers and left them stranded to grow over with lichens, birches and bearberry. It was wild and beautiful all the way to the channel. Next time I'd take a boat, but there were the famed stromatolites and we ate lunch sitting on them.

Thankfully, the rest of our trip involved real groomed trails in provincial parks. In Neys we explored the magma chamber and the great sand beach, one of the few suitable for swimming on Lake Superior because it is warmed by incoming river water.

Sleeping Giant Park was heavily populated by bears and we bought bear bells to avoid encounters. The park is known for its spectacular vistas and unusual arctic plant populations at the cool shoreline. At warmer and higher elevations on the Sleeping Giant (which is what the peninsula resembles when viewed from Thunder Bay), one can be surprised by clematis and poison ivy.

On our trip, Hans and I picked blueberries, hiked around, collected amethyst, and keeping an eye on

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Places to go Things to see

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Tourism concentrates on hunting, fishing, and canoeing although there is much more to offer. My home town, formerly home to two large iron mines, takes its new role seriously. It is the gateway to Quetico Park, a wilderness park that will take you back to the days of the fur trade, once plied by the explorers who opened up and mapped Canada. To assure a wilderness experience, no airplanes are allowed to fly over and motor boats are not allowed. No wonder Atikokan is a Canoe Capital and our most famous recent ambassador, Mike Ranta, completed a cross-Canada canoe trip last year with his dog Spitzi.

The Atikokan High School has a popular Outers Programme that combines leadership training and wilderness skills. My son and I both

business closing days and times, realized how much the area has to offer tourists and how little prepared it is for them. I teased Hans, "You need a local guide". True. I knew the unnamed roads that led to the swimming places. GPS could not help there. I also knew we had to get up early if we wanted to be back in time for supper.

GPS was valuable for finding a route around the abandoned open pit iron mine outside Atikokan. It is being developed as a recreation area but many parts are marked as too dangerous to explore. Green waters rise yearly, flanked by the red pit walls, and swallow up the concentric circles of roads once travelled by monster Euclids loaded with iron ore. There is still interesting rockhounding possible if accompanied by a guide.

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took part in it and the reward is an 11-day trip through Quetico Park, planned and executed by the students. By then our experience should assure our survival :-) My memories of that trip and a spectacular aurora remain vivid.

Hospitality was top-notch. Canadians are friendly and happy to show you the way. If only Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) had asked, he would have known he was going the wrong way on the highway in the movie Snow Cake and he would have made it to Winnipeg where he was going instead of Wawa but then he would not have met Sigourney Weaver, which was the point of the story...

Canadians around there don't put up with nonsense either and they don't care who you are. The owner of a historic hotel in Rossport proudly punched out Bob Seger and sent him on his way. So, you've got to be polite or else.

Do I miss Canada? Everyone asks. My home town always has a place in my heart. It is a little known jewel and it will welcome and challenge you with memories to last a lifetime. Just ask Bud and Sandy Dickson at Canoe Canada Outfitters or Barry Brown at Clearwater West Lodge!

Places to go Things to see

Anyway, us northerners are used to southern types showing up and getting it all wrong. We think it's funny except when it hurts. Once upon a time our highways were plowed in winter. Now the contract is handled by an Australian company that doesn't do it and happily pays the fine for not doing it so the contract must be lucrative enough.

Northerners live with being an afterthought. The little government office where I worked bore frequent witness to us being last to know. We famously found out on the radio about the spring bear hunt being cancelled and it seemed like an April Fool's joke until we knew it was true.

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Dutch New Year’s Eve is a fun time. Celebrations, top 2000 count down on the radio, parties and the firework displays at the stroke of midnight. If you are planning on setting off fireworks or going to a display this New Year’s Eve, here are a few tips to keep you and your little ones safe.

Play Safe This New Year’s Eveby Stephanie Fermor-Poortman

If you are going to be setting off your own fireworks you want to have purchased the fireworks from a licensed retailer and store them safely until New Year’s Eve, away from naked flames and water. Fireworks are available to pre-order, but can only be purchased or picked up on 29th, 30th, and 31st December. You may also only purchase a maximum of 25kg of fireworks. If you want more you will need to go with multiple people to purchase the fireworks.

Have a designated area for setting the fireworks off in, away from houses, trees and traffic. It is best to have one person in charge of the fireworks and keep everyone else a safe distance from the area, especially children (and keep pets indoors).

Fireworks should be lit with a taper at arm’s length. Read and follow the instruction on each type of firework that you will be setting off. If you light a firework but it doesn’t go off, don’t approach it! It could still explode.

For fireworks mounted on a stick, a bucket of sand or dirt makes a very stable surface to stick them in when

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setting them off.

Keep a bucket or two of water and/or sand near to where you will be setting off the fireworks in case of emergency. And should something go wrong call 112 for an ambulance or the fire brigade.

Once the display is finished be sure to wait at least 15 minutes before you clear up any debris and place any remains in a bucket of water.

If you have sparklers for children be sure to light one at a time, be wearing gloves, hold at arm’s length and have a bucket of water to put them in after they burn out.

If you are going to a display (public or at a friend’s house) keep your own and your families safety in mind. Keep away from the area the fireworks are being lit and keep in mind the tips listed above.

In the Netherlands there are restrictions

on the date and time you are allowed to set off fireworks. Fireworks can be set off between December 31st from 6pm until 2am January 1st. Setting fireworks off outside of this time can result in a fine from the police. Also be considerate of neighbours with small children or pets, a friendly warning if you will be setting off fireworks is often appreciated.

We hope you have a happy New Year’s Eve and keep safe!

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Places to go Things to see

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Men's Night Out: Tesla Test Drive

Ten men signed up to experience the thrill of driving the world’s first premium electric sedan: the Tesla Model S. The men first listened to a TechTalk about the car at the Tesla pop-up store on the Damsterdiep and then each person could drive for about 10 minutes in the test cars (either 70D or P85D) with the Tesla representative and two other participants. Designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, the Model S gave an amazing driving experience, said one participant. When the rep said to plank the gas pedal, the car just leaped forward and he could feel the

G-force acceleration in his face. Driving the Tesla was more like sitting in a cockpit with all the digital displays than a regular car but the ride was definitely sweet! After the test drives, the men gathered in a pub to exchange experiences and relax with a beer.

Visit to see other upcoming events, including more Men’s Day Out events.

Tesla Drive Experience event review, Monday 12 October

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My Dutch husband and I were married twelve years this year, which prompted many family members and friends to make noises about a party in six months’ time. Turns out that your copper or 12.5 years’ wedding anniversary is a big deal here and is often celebrated with a party for family and friends. I suspect we shall quietly accidentally on purpose forget the day….

Dutch Wedding Anniversariesby Alexandra van den Doel

Coincidentally we were invited to a silver wedding anniversary party, traditional Dutch style a couple of months ago. This I had to see!

Having read Stephanie’s recent article on hosting a Dutch Circle Party (DCP), I realised there is not a big difference.

The GiftAs often the case on Dutch invitations, the couple had indicated their gift of choice by adding a little envelope icon to the invitation. It was interesting to see that the amount of the gift was determined by: whether the invitees were going to drink alcohol, whether a meal was going to be served and how well-off the couple were. After negotiations between several invitees


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a compromise amount was agreed on. It was explained to me, that traditionally you don’t bring a gift to a wedding or anniversary party, but help the couple pay for the party so they are not out of pocket entertaining their friends. They used to hang a bucket up by the entrance for

of cake or a “gebakje” is then served.

Music and DancingWe were lucky enough to have a live band, that although loud was very good. Once the reception line had cleared and coffee and cake were consumed, it was time for dancing, with the happy couple starting off going round the circle doing the quickstep and then others joining in. Until recently learning to ball-room dance (but in particular the quickstep) for teenagers was almost as ubiquitous as obtaining the swimming diplomas is for primary school children.

Drink and NibblesAs at most of Dutch parties there was a free bar, in this case with eager wait-staff that kept the drinks coming and several rounds of trays with bitterballen, cheese, sausage etc.

people to deposit their contribution.

Arriving on timeNo arriving fashionably late or dropping in at some time that suits you (as you may with a DCP). You should arrive within half an hour of the starting time and line up to shake hands with the happy couple. Don’t forget the 3 kisses and the “Gefeliciteerd!”

Finding a seatTable and chairs are arranged in a circle (yup, there it is again!) around the dance floor. Usually once you sit down, that is your seat and you stay glued to it, so choose wisely. However, eventually people did start moving around to talk to each other and catch up on news and gossip.

CakeOne cup of tea or coffee and one slice

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Chair DanceOnce the party had really got going, the bride and groom each seated themselves on a chair each and were lifted into the air whilst the crowd sang: “Lang zullen ze leven” and “Zij leven hoog”. (“They live high.”) (Listen to the song on Youtube, courtesy of Roden Boys Choir, At the end of the songs the chairs were brought together to enable the couple to kiss in mid-air to much hilarity and applause.

More Dancing and DrinkingThe party then really got going with

more people getting up to dance (more disco/freestyle than ballroom) and more drink flowing.

The EndHow do you know when the party is over? The lights come on, and coffee is served with a roll (ham or cheese). No need for subtle hints, everybody was clear on what to do. Lots of 3 kisses and goodbyes and homeward bound we were!

Photos courtesy of Jolanda RemmelinkMusic by Roden Jongenskoor/Roden Boys Choir

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Our Puppy (Appa) is now 6 months old and it certainly has been an adventurous few months.

Getting a Dog part 2by Stephanie Fermor-Poortman

Visiting the vetWe are very fortunate that our local vet is good and speaks English (we also take our cat and rabbit there). If you are looking for a vet you can google or look one up in the telephone book ( under ‘dierenarts’. Most vets can speak decent English, but to be sure give them a call and ask before making an appointment. New puppies have quite a few vet visits for different vaccinations (usually around 3-4) and you can expect to spend a few hundred euros in total for everything.

You will also need to give your dog worming tablets, these can be bought

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from the vet, or at pet shops. You may also want to consider the cost of spaying or neutering your dog. This can be done from 6 months of age. It is not necessary, but if you have a male dog that starts showing behavioural issues around this time it can sometimes help. Discuss the options with your vet. Spaying (for female dogs) costs between €250 - €350 depending on the size of your

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dog and neutering (for male dogs) costs between €120 - €150.

Puppy ClassesBefore we picked up Appa I had already enrolled him on a puppy course in our neighbourhood. While I am familiar with training techniques, having had dogs in the past, there is no substitute for getting your puppy socialised with people and other dogs, and a puppy class is an ideal place for this.

I found our dog school through google (search for ‘hondenschool’ or ‘puppy klas’, plus where you live), but you can also ask your vet as they often know of local schools and may be able to recommend one to you. You can expect to pay between €10 and €15 per one hour lesson, and may get a discount if you pay for them in bulk. Also consider with the classes if they take place outside or in a rented hall and look at the sizes of the class; small classes mean you and your puppy will get enough help and attention from the instructor.

EquipmentThere are lots of cute and fun items that you can buy for your dog, but the basics that you will need are:

Collar & lead – halsband & riem

Food & water bowl – Voer- & drinkbak

Bed / pillow – Mand / kussen

Dog friendly toys – speelgoed (such as ropes and chew toys)

Puppy food – puppyvoeding

Doggy poop bags – hondenzakjes

You can buy these items (and more) at petshops (dierenwinkels) or online. Here are a few places that I use:

Petsplace – physical store plus an online webshop.

Welkoop – physical store

Intratuin – physical store

Action – physical store, have a small selection of budget pet supplies

Zooplus – online webshop, great prices for dry food and supplies.

Viadierenwinkel – online webshop.

If you decide a dog would be a great fit for your family, wonderful! I hope you have many years of love and cuddles with the dog you choose.