Once upon a time ..
For many years (and still) Eindhoven welcomes educated, skilled and talented international knowledge workers to come to Eindhoven for interesting jobs in multinational companies and also in the TU/e. A lot of these international expats are accompanied by their partners. These spouses often have had a bizzy and meaningful life ‘back home’, but left that behind to make the step to The Netherlands together with their partners.
Once in their new hometown, the employees start their challenging jobs, which often take quite an amount of extra time. The spouses (female or male) though, find themselves all of a sudden alone at home, without the significant activities they were used to, without their close families & friends around them and often without a clue how and where to start their new life.
Daily challenges how to find out what they need: info about tax forms as well as where to find home food spices as well how do the transport systems work as well as how to cope with the seasonable Dutch weather, the new language, the traffic rules, setting up a new household for the two of you, and when there are children involved how to get support with the pregnancy and how to raise your children in this new environment, a.s.o., a.s.o.
Although ‘Dutchmen’ often are found kind and helpful to newcomers, there are also a lot of nuisances in the ‘trial & error’ communication with Dutch institutions and services of all kind: strange rules & regulations, incomprehensive ways of doing, more than often being treated in a ‘childish ‘ and sometimes rude way, which puts off quite some new coming citizens to go out and about and discover their new hometown Eindhoven.
A lot of these stories and signals have come to Indigo-Wereld and triggered us to create ways to meet the needs and wants of international spouses , in close contact with the spouses themselves.
In that time, I regularly met Willem van Hoorn, advisor internationalization of the TU/e Department Personnel & Organization. For the international TU/e community, he had developed quite some interesting and supporting services for their knowledge workers, coming from all kind of places in the world, to help them settle down. He also knew though, that their accompanying spouses often struggle with ‘how to find their way in Eindhoven’.
My offer and his concern met and so ‘Get in Touch’ was born. A social introduction and support program for spouses , on a weekly basis, in which spouse meet other spouses in small groups , to discover ‘people & places in Eindhoven’and build their own personal network in their new residence.
This joint venture between Indigo-Wereld and TU/e has grow in the past years into a broad service for the international TU/e spouses. Where useful and wished for, there are made valuable connections with other TU/e services as the Common Room, Bunker Studio, Metaforum Library and contributions to the regular TU/e Introduction Days and to the bigger international TU/e Events like ‘Connect with My Culture’.
The weekly meetings of the Get in Touch ‘Family’ Group consist of trips & tours to museums, parks, spicy shops, secondhand markets, library and other useful places. Besides, there are also workshops about various themes, presentations by the spouses themselves and celebrations of traditional or newer Dutch festivities.
Every time different and surprising, always with a mix of ‘older’ and newer spouses and with other women out of the Indigo-Wereld networks.
Out of these regular meetings, other short term or longer term activities have grown, like Dance Groups, Djembé Group, Start Up Workshops, a serial of Group Talks about ‘the challenges of living abroad, a Spouse Home Movie and whatever will come along in future.
The closed Facebook Group of the Get in Touch Family, appears to be an important platform for spouses and others involved in the Get in Touch Program, to share experiences, call for new activities, post useful information and keep in touch with each other.
Since so many spouses (and their partners) have become members of this growing community, we feel it a good moment to start another platform, in which we still could share our knowledge and calls and pics, but also might ‘store’some of the practical info’s and broaden the possibilities to exchange whatever could be interesting for spouses.
So, that’s why I embraced with open arms, the initiative of some spouse to start our own Get in Touch Blog!!
This blog is meant for all sorts of info and stories and tips and exchanges. It will be administered by Irem Bezcioglu Goktolga, Yolima Grandas and Iroshini Perera and will be moderated and supported by me: Carola Eijsenring/Indigo-Wereld.
Enjoy the posts and feel welcome to add yours.
Let’s stay in touch!