Marianne Cooper-vd Veen
How To Dutch: American In The Netherlands! Interview With DeonTheDirector
Traveling to other countries can be fun but actually trying to live in one gets crazy. Here is a short Q&A that I had with DeonTheDirector about his experience of living in The Netherlands.
First tell me a little about you! My name is Deon Cooper ('80). I was born and raised in The Bay Area of California. I always had an interest in filming and editing. Around 16 years old I got a huge Sony video camera that recorded on VHS tapes. I carried this camera around a lot, filming my friends and family (and I still have a lot of the footage for those of you reading this). Soon I was given the name "The Director". After high school, I went to Contra Costa College to study Film making, Film editing, African American Film History, and my favorite Live Broadcasting. After finishing my courses I started to find work as a music video director. I used my newly acquired live broadcasting skills to create a radio station called "Radio For The World".
What did you know about The Netherlands before you moved there?
I really didn't know much that is for sure. I knew it was in Europe, that they spoke Dutch and that weed was legal there. But my knowledge expanded when I met D.J. Xeno AKA Willem who joined the team as a D.J. on my radio station "Radio for the World". Over the next 3 or 4 months we started to hang out daily doing radio shows and just chatting about our perspectives on life from opposite sides of the planet.
When and why did you decide to move to The Netherlands?
I love to travel and see new places inside the U.S. and I have traveled outside of the U.S. once before. After meeting Willem and hearing so many great things about Groningen (the city he lives in) I wanted to visit right away. One fateful day, I joined Willem to watch his live video and audio radio show which at the time was broadcasting on www.stickam.com which allowed listeners to start a webcam while listening so the D.J. could see them too. Nothing new for us, pretty much what we did every day. Out of the blue, Willem says to me "my sister thinks you're cute" which at the time I thought was a joke or prank he was trying to play on me because I didn't even know he had a sister. So I was skeptical to say the least. I replied "tell her thank you". Then I got a private message from Marianne. She introduced herself and we started to talk for hours. Turned out we had a lot in common, we laughed a lot, and we both fell in love pretty fast (11 days to be exact). To make a very long story short: after 1 year and 9 months of msn messenger, skype, and whatsapp; I finally made it to The Netherlands on a 3 month visa where I finally met Marianne (my wife now) and Willem (my brother-in-law) face to face. I had such an amazing time, met so many wonderful people, and was welcomed with open arms. The immigration process in the Netherlands is faster than the one in the U.S. which made us decide it was easier for me to move there than for her to move to California.
How long do you plan to stay and why?
I have been here over 3 years now and as of lately my wife and I have been thinking about moving to California. There are so many pros and cons with moving back and leaving The Netherlands that the choice is very hard. So not sure how much longer at this point. There are so many things I can answer "why" with because of the differences between living in California vs. Groningen but the main one is the weather. The weather in The Netherlands is unpredictable. I have seen all 4 season happen in 1 day here. Rain, snow, and too hot to do anything all in 1 day. I can say now "for the rest of this year, it is going to be a beautiful sunny day in the Bay Area of California" and I will only be wrong for about 30 of 350 days we have left. That is better than any Dutch weatherman can do for Dutch weather. I truly believe they just guess and hope they are right.
Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
I can speak it a bit. I understand much more than I can say but not enough to say I am fluent in Dutch. I can speak and understand enough to survive here. I tried courses but it was very hard because people don't mind speaking English here. Almost everyone can speak good English and the rest speak bad English but still can talk to me with both of us understanding. Most of what I learned I learned from personal studying and just listening to people speak Dutch.
What’s your favorite Dutch food?
That's a tough one. Close race between my father-in-law's chicken soup, stamppot, and frikandel/patat speciaal. Not something I can eat everyday but it is delicious when you get that craving for it!
How Dutch have you become?
HAHAHAHA! Sorry but this cracks me up. I have failed miserably to learn "Dutch" habits and change some of my "American" habits. I blame my age. It's hard to unlearn and learn new things at my age. Examples? I forget to ask guests if they want something to drink. My friends and family in California know when they come over to make themselves at home. You want something to drink? Go get it! Lmao! And I don't drink coffee or tea. Everything here starts with a cup of coffee or tea. I don't think I am very Dutch.
Which three Famous Dutch people would you most like to meet and why?
The King Willem Alexander, Arjen Robben and Frank Boeijen all seem like they would be cool to hang out with. I got a chance to shake hands and take a picture with Frank Boeijen after his concert. Not hang out and have a beer but it was still pretty cool.
What are your top tips for tourists?
Amsterdam is not the only place to visit. I personally like Groningen better. When I was in Amsterdam it felt a lot like San Francisco. I didn't feel like I was on the other side of the planet until I saw Goningen or Zuidhorn. It's a small country but there is a lot to see. Learn and try your best to follow the rules. Dutch people will not hold their tongues and will call you out. I had to try my best to not kick someones ass when they call me " a dick" when I accidentally cut them off on my bike. Other than that enjoy yourself. Most night clubs are open until 7;00am ;-)
Is there anything surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands?
Racism is hardly seen here compared to the U.S. I have heard stories but have only felt it once maybe twice. Even then I was questioning myself "was it a racist thing or was he just being an asshole?". Also the diverse population. There are a lot of foreigners but the Dutch people are of all shades of skin.
If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do? - Feed the ducks at the Noorderplantsoen in Groningen
- Get some Pumpkin soup made by my mother-in-law - Game night with my boys (Michele, David, Melle, Fon-yi). - Radio Show with D.J. Xeno - Radio Show with DJ Irie - Radio Show With BreakNorth - Going away party with all friends and family welcome - And right before I leave I would buy as much bitterballen, pindasaus, and frikandellen and start a traditional Dutch snack bar in California hahaha!
Check out my video for a quick tour of Groningen!