I am a retired geologist and marine biogeochemist from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, a tiny but highly developed country with relatively little inequality and a great deal of prosperity.
It is located on the other side of the North Sea, as anyone who survived WWII likely knows. It serves as a guiding country on moral and ethical issues to the rest of the world. Not surprisingly, Dutch culture not only allows but welcomes discussion. This is normally a mature pleasant exchange of ideas and viewpoints in which everyone’s contributions are considered, not a hostile match of biting verbal attacks.
The Dutch have very high standards in almost everything and are very well organised. They abhor lying and place a good deal of emphasis on honesty and integrity as well as on justice and fairness. (This sometimes makes others see them as a pain in the butt or as terribly naive.) Like any other country, the Netherlands is not ideal and occasionally errs. When it comes to women’s emancipation, for example, my home country still has a long way to go although it appears to be decades ahead of Britain where Victorian values still dominate so many aspects of life.
The Dutch, while not as welcoming and easy-going as most Americans, are a pretty sociable bunch. Men and women often socialise in mixed groups for the sole purpose of the pleasure of socialising, certainly in the cosmopolitan central part of the country (the Amsterdam – Utrecht – The Hague area). This often involves food and drinks, but the Dutch do not have a drinking culture.
I have spent most of my life in Amsterdam, but I have also lived and worked in the United States, and carried out fieldwork in several developed countries in Europe (including Spain). The Dutch way of socialising is akin to what you see in areas of Spain.
Besides in science and technology, I have a wealth of experience in various other area. Two examples of the latter are that I worked in tourism and hospitality before I became a geologist and that I was an extra in a few films and TV series. That’s because I am a multipassionate and multitalented person, so I don’t fit in the box and many different labels apply to me.
This is far from unusual for intelligent people whose intelligence is just below that stellar range of major geniuses and who tend to be pretty practical and down to earth. (The latter also goes for the Dutch in general. We are very relaxed and don’t go for drama.)
Americans seem to struggle least with this, probably because Americans often change career, which makes the step to the idea of having multiple simultaneous careers easy for them. I believe it was Marie Forleo, an American woman, who coined the term “multipassionate” to describe this phenomenon of high versatility.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of things that I do not like at all, as well as a few things that I am very bad at. An example of the latter is my inability to sell you anything you don’t want or need.
Below are some examples of things that I do.
- I have a good grasp of legal concepts and gained some legal experience at a major English law firm and in English court proceedings. In principle, I am willing to assist those who want to take action as a litigant in person, but feel intimidated by the idea of the hassle of it all.
I can help you tackle that hassle, and take a load off your shoulders. I might even help you recover a financial loss or prevent one (but there is no way that I can guarantee that). I am equally willing to assist those who are taken to court by someone else and cannot afford legal representation or simply don’t want to hire a solicitor. While I am not cheap, my rates are affordable.
As an English woman from the University of Portsmouth very aptly put it in 2010 during a local leadership course I participated in, the British are used to being subjects and still have to learn how to become citizens. I think that has something to do with the old Victorian template that still dictates so much of British behaviour. Calmly exercising one’s rights when called for is part of that transition toward active citizenship.
- In 1997, I started a small business in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It used to offer an extensive package of services tailored to the unique requirements of university scientists from all over the world, particularly in the area of earth, marine and environmental science and technology. I also attracted some international corporate clients.
After my relocation to the UK, I eventually had to let go of most of those services as all my clients were in other countries. I still carry out some scientific editing for a handful of my university clients in the Netherlands, but that’s all.
- Recently, I began promoting the work of two contemporary artists, on a very modest scale.
One is visual artist Sibyl Heijnen from the Netherlands whose talents and drive I greatly admire. I also consider her a good friend and enjoy her personality. Sibyl’s work is genuine top art.
The other one is Tania Petrenko, a highly versatile painter from Ukraine. I came across her work on eBay. Her art is often humorous and a form of story-telling, but I particularly love her abstract works.