Yolonda van Riel, Tennessee, USA

Knoxville, Tennessee native Yolonda van Riel moved to Tilburg in 2005. Her now husband asked her to move -- and she was offered a transfer by her company in Tennessee to the Tilburg facility.
Profession: Business Development Manager 
Tilburg is... a city with great potential.

Do you have a favorite motto? If so, what is its significance?
Change your shoes, change your life! No significance ... I just love shoes.

What have you learned since moving here, that you wish someone would have told you when you first arrived? That the sugar is in the coffee aisle and not with the baking goods!! No ... really -- that people are generally the same all over the world. There are cultural differences of course but, in general, everyone wants the same -- a roof over their head, food on the table and a happy, healthy family.

You are a member of the Tilburg International Club. How has the club helped you?
TIC helped me establish my own network of friends. It gave me a sense of my own social life and keep my own identity.

Are you a member of any other international organizations or clubs aside from TIC?
I am a warden for the American Consulate.

What is your best piece of advice for other expats?

Try to embrace your new surroundings, explore your city for "hidden gems" and don't be afraid to ask the locals for advice ... people are almost always willing tell you the good things about their city. You should also try to learn some of the basics of your local language.

What was your first impression of Tilburg?
Wow. Nice people.

Did you experience culture shock?

Not so much culture shock -- it was more a subtle shake than an actual shock.

What do you miss most from home?

Free refills on coffee and soda! Thanksgiving dinner/Black Friday. Customer service.

If you had to leave the Southeast Netherlands tomorrow, what would you miss?

The coziness of the city centers



Is the Southeast Netherlands international?

In a lot of ways, yes. The universities and growing industries are making it more international.

What is missing in the Southeast Netherlands?
Allowing the stores to be open on Sunday. I find that very old fashioned.

What is your favorite part about living in this part of the Netherlands?
The same as what I would miss ... the coziness of the city centers

If you could go back in time, to before you moved here; would you still move?
Without a doubt ... yes!

What is your favorite thing to do in the Netherlands over the weekend? In the summer?
Hanging out with friends, enjoying the many festivals. Over the summer, traveling throughout Europe enjoying everything it has to offer!

What would you like to see in the Expat Center Brabant Newsletter, News for Expats?
Not much ... it is really a great and interesting newsletter

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Enjoy your experience and make the most it!


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