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Tomorrow evening I will give my last Toastmasters speech here. This is what I intend to say. (I think it's safe here - I'll post it in the travel blog after I give the speech, in case anyone from from my Toastmasters chapter reads that one):

It's supposed to be about a 5-7 minute speech )
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The following entry was originally posted at my main blog on January 13 - apparently JournalPress, which is a plugin I use to mirror entries to Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, isn't working with the latest version of WordPress. It's kind of a relief to know why I wasn't getting any comments on those sites - I was beginning to think no one liked me! So I will be posting three past entries here, then I guess I'll just mirror them manually until I can get the plugin fixed. Sorry for the barrage of entries.


This is at least the second big moving comparison post I've written; this one is more comprehensive but it's still not definitive. I'm pretty sure there will be more stuff. (The first post is here.) I'll probably cross-post this to the travel blog, too. These are in no particular order.

Things I am looking forward to in the Netherlands:

cleaner air:
People keep telling me that Eindhoven has some of the worst air in Europe. But at least you can see through it, which is not always true in Taiwan.
colder air:I just don't like hot weather much. It's chilly now, but by Sunday, the high temperature here is predicted to match Eindhoven's average high for July.
language: - This is a big one, with lots of facets: first of all, a lot more people speak English, and the ones who do speak it better than here. (Chinese and English are so thoroughly different that each is very hard for native speakers of the other - even people who are comparatively fluent here have heavy accents, and even with my small knowledge of Chinese I can often hear the difference between a native speaker and an English speaker who has learned Chinese.) Second, Dutch is much easier for me - I can pretty much handle menus, for instance, which means I can eat at any restaurant rather than just ones with pictures or English menus. Third, I'll have Dutch lessons and the teachers and facilities were much better than the ones here.
walking around more at work: I don't like sitting still all day, as I mostly do here. There, it's a much larger campus and I'll have meetings all over.
getting out on the water: rowing, not just erg. Yay!
better social life: because of the rowing club and the local Stitch'n'Bitch group.
bread that isn't sweet: They don't really "get" bread here. Dutch bread is great. Even better, restaurants often serve it with herb butter. Pastries are also excellent. (Another two-way street - people from here complain about the Dutch serving bread at every meal, and aren't thrilled with the amount or quality of rice there.)
vacation time: Another big one. US: 2-3 weeks vacation plus about 8 national holidays and three days floating holiday. Taiwan, 112 hours (= 14 days) vacation time, 7 holidays, and 8 floating holidays. (This is my fourth year with this company - you get one extra day per year.) Netherlands: forty-one days vacation time - actually, 28 days (27 plus one for being over forty) and thirteen of what they call ADV days, which if I understand them right are compensation for working 40 instead of 32 hours per week.
drinkable tap water: something we didn't have in Arizona either, so I really appreciated it. In AZ it was safe but tasted awful; in Taiwan it tastes OK but we were told it's bad for you, though no one was clear on details.
more choices in the cafeteria: Here there are two plates, and can be some very weird combinations. I keep PB & J on hand. There it's a much bigger site, so bigger cafeteria with a lot more choices.
cheap and good wine: Wine is expensive here, due to taxes.

Things I will miss from Taiwan:
customer service: Not a Dutch core competency, very much a Taiwanese one.
quick restaurant meals: partly related to the above (servers work hard not to catch your eye!) but more because lots of people eat out or do take out all the time here, while for the Dutch eating out is an occasion and they don't want to be rushed. (It's much faster in Amsterdam than in the south where I'll be - maybe the tourist influence? But possibly also because there is a culture difference between the north and south Netherlands.)
Taipei taxis: cheap, safe (well, other than the crazy driving) and everywhere.
kindness: This is not at all meant as a slur on Dutch people, who were very nice to us. I'd be proud if a foreigner in the US was welcomed as we were. But the Taiwanese take kindness to a new level - it's practically a national sport.
cheaper electronics: Electronics, food, and clothing are much more expensive in the Netherlands. Clothes don't bother me because at least I can find more to fit. I can deal with paying more for food when someone else covers the housing. But electronics are very expensive!
Mexican food: Surprisingly there is some decent Mexican food in Taipei. Not in Eindhoven!
milky pearl tea: But I know it's getting more popular in the US, so maybe the Netherlands has it as well. The good coffee there is famous and would more than make up for it, but I can't drink real coffee, not more than a small cup very occasionally.
Costco, Carrefour, and A.Mart: I'll miss being able to get American brands and US-style cuts of meat at Costco. Carrefour and A.Mart are hypermarkets only a short walk from our apartment.
shopping on Sundays: And until nine or ten at night. In Eindhoven, grocery stores are open until 8 or 9, but otherwise shops close at 6 except for one night a week, and they are closed on Sunday except for the first weekend of the month.
my American fridge, washer and dryer: The one is big and the other two get clothing clean and dry, quickly and without ruining it. None of those could be said of the appliances we had in the Netherlands.
our apartment guard: who translates Chinese for us (though the current one has more limited English) and can accept packages. In the Netherlands, getting a package meant waiting for the mail carrier to try delivering it twice (when we were at home) and then picking it up on Saturday at the post office.

A few other things I won't miss from Taiwan::
guys making horking noises in the men's room No, I have no idea why, but it's all the time can hear them all too clearly from the women's toilet and the pantry at work.
our doorbell: which is very loud and plays inane versions of American songs like Yankee Doodle and Merrily We Roll Along.
an uninsulated apartment: which means not only is it cold in winter, but we can hear next door's annoying doorbell too - and their screaming kid, not to mention every time the people upstairs run the shower or flush.
having to be home for the cleaning people: I find it embarrassing to have someone else cleaning my home while I sit on my butt (working on the computer, knitting or beading usually). The only reason we keep them is that we'd hate doing the cleaning ourselves even more. (They do really do a great job, except that they keep finding new and unusual places to put things every time.)

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