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MKE Foreigners: from Holland

The Jaarsma-Visser Family

In April 2016 our family moved from Amsterdam to Milwaukee. A big step and a major change. Although at first I was a bit naive... We had seen so many US movies and series in the Netherlands. And we followed the news and different media from the States. Furthermore my husband and I had already visited several States for vacations and work. We thought we knew what to expect.

In the beginning it was exactly as we had envisioned. We loved Milwaukee and we loved the super friendly people. There were however much more cultural differences between the Dutch and the Americans then we thought! It's mainly in the little things. And the longer we live here, the clearer it becomes.

What's for lunch?

The way we eat for example is so different from here. Our kids came home after their first day of school and were very disappointed about the snack and lunch I had given them. It was no different then what they were used to in the Netherlands: an apple for snack time, a bottle of

water and two slices of bread with a little butter and a thin slice of cheese. But while they were eating their apple, kids in their class had popcorn, cookies and Goldfish. While my kids were drinking their water, their classmates had juices and chocolate milk. When they had their (boring) sandwich, their friends had pizza, tacos or salty soups. I was shocked by the amount of unhealthy foods that young children get to eat daily. And yet my kids are mad at me for not changing their diet. Well, too bad for them but here I'm sticking to our Dutch customs!

Dress to impress

Another big difference is the way we dress. Every day I see moms at school wearing sports leggings, hoodies and athletic shoes. At first I thought they were headed for the gym, or maybe just returned. But a lot of them don't. They tell me that they love how comfy and easy

this type of clothing is. They just wear it day in day out. Sneakers over pumps, leggings over tight trousers. I mean, why not! But if you DO go to the gym, a lot of women are wearing layers of make-up, their nails are perfectly polished and their hairs are nicely curled. They look beautiful! Whereas in the Netherlands most women in the gym are sweating, not wearing any make up and just tie their hair in an easy ponytail. The make-up thing only starts after the sporting is done. Here, I must admit that I adapted to the American culture. I dress much more comfy then I would in the Netherlands. And when I go to the gym, I make sure my make-up is on and waterproof.

These are just some examples. I could go on and on. And I love these little cultural differences. It is what makes it so interesting to live in another country. Some practices and customs we adapt to, for others we'd rather stick to the Dutch ways.

Foreigners in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is full of people that are not from the United States originally. They moved here for work, like us. Or they fell in love with an American Citizen and settled here. Or they fled from their country and ended up in Wisconsin. They live here temporarily or for life. And all these people have their own stories to tell, they brought their own cultural heritage, practices and customs. It made me curious how todays MKE foreigners are blending these backgrounds into the American culture and way of life. That's why I started a photo project where I will connect with families from different countries. And find out how they do it. And I can tell you upfront, it is going to be fascinating!! So please follow my blog and get to know more about the MKE Foreigners.

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