This series will give you a peek into the life of Dutch Moms around the World. I will ask them all 10 questions, that will give you a better view on what life as a Dutch Mom abroad is like. The moms will share some pictures and give you some advice in case you would like to move to another country too.
Q & A with Cath Godefroy
This week Catharina (or Cath in short) who lives close to Perpignan in France since 2005, takes her turn. She was born and raised in Hengelo (a city in the Eastern part of the Netherlands) She has two children: Stella (aged 6) and Elias (aged 4).
1. In which country do you live and why did you choose that country? Did you choose a specific place or area to move to? Why did you move there? When did you move there from the Netherlands?
In 2005 I moved to the South of France because of a lover, his parents lived near Perpignan so we moved here to join them.
2. What does an average day, as a Dutch mom in the country that you live in look like? Please describe your own average day.
My average day is as follows: we get up at 7 am, I take care of my children before bringing them to school. Then I have one hour to clean up the house and get ready for work. I work until 4 pm, at the driving school my husband owns. I pick up the children from school at 5 pm. We make homework, prepare dinner and play a bit. My husband comes home between 7 – 8 pm.
3. What do you miss when you think about the Netherlands? Why do you miss that?
When I think about the Netherlands, I miss my parents and the social life I had over there. Drinking a coffee with colleagues or friends. My husband works a lot and I find myself pretty often “home alone” taking care of my house and children. I would like to have my parents close by so that they could help me with the children and would be able to see them grow up.
4. Are there things you don't miss at all when you think about the Netherlands? Why?
What I don’t miss…. The weather in the Netherlands. (It rains a lot, red.) In Perpignan, the sun shines every day.
5. If you look at the school system in your country, how does it compare to the Dutch school system? What are (dis)advantages?
What I don’t like in the French school system is that there are no levels. In the Netherlands, there are several levels at High School that prepare you to a different diploma. Everybody needs to follow the same system here. It’s like asking a lion, a gorilla and a crocodile to climb up the tree…
6. How did YOUR life change when you moved? What are the differences compared to your life in the Netherlands? Were these choices you made, or were these differences decided for you (by a company, by the visa that you have, by the different circumstances)? How do you feel about these changes?
My life didn’t change that much when I moved to France, I’m just far away from my family. I’m still in Europe so I’m considered equal with the French people. I have the right to pay taxes and to work like anybody else, I just don’t have the right to vote.
7. What is happening in the country that you live in, that worries you? Why does this worry you? Is there anything you do to solve this?
That really scares me. I don’t like racism, discrimination etc. and the French seem to be getting worse every year.
8. What habits have you taken with you from the Netherlands? And which ones have you integrated from your new country? Why (those habits)? Which ones do you on purpose NOT use? Have these habits learned you something? If so, what?
I still only look television in original version (so not synchronized in French); I don’t want to watch Hollywood movies in French. I think it’s good for my children to watch television in English. I love soccer and I still support the Netherlands during World or European soccer tournaments. I’m alone because in the South of France, people love rugby – they often don't really like soccer.
9. What is your advice for other moms who are thinking about moving to another country? What do they have to think about?
My advice for other moms: go for it.
Moving wasn’t simple but it made me the person who I am today. I was young and naïve and counting on my parents for lots of things. Now I am 10 years older and wiser and I got through a lot of difficulties but it made me stronger… If you think about moving abroad, go for it. There are so many cultures and people to discover.
10. Is there anything you want to share? A funny situation that you have experienced, a life lesson, a favorite quote?
Language is a funny thing, in the beginning I didn’t understand everything and I said stupid things that made people laugh. Nothing to worry about, my French will always be better than their Dutch!
Although I've been to France many times, you taught me things that I didn't know yet. Thanks a lot!
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