Out and About is a column where we talk to people currently living abroad, or people who have previously lived and worked abroad. This week we chat to Leoné de Beer who lives in Zwolle, the Netherlands.
Tell us more about yourself and where you live.
I’m a towny who studied psychology at the University of Johannesburg (previously RAU). Nowadays, I offer cookery workshops on South African food in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Who would’ve guessed? The nostalgia – and communicating and living in my beloved language – brought me to the idea of AfriKos. I married a Dutchman and we have two children aged 10 and 13.
What are you doing there?
In addition to the cookery workshops, I also pack herbs for bobotie and bags of ready mix for malva pudding! My aversion to Knorr bobotie, which does not taste as it should, made me start with the bobotie. And the malva pudding I do because I’m so fond of it and believe everyone should make it. Ha ha!
Did you find it difficult to adapt to a new country?
I still do! To adjust is one thing, but to find happiness is another. At least, to me it is, because I tend to feel lonely if I can’t speak my own language. Besides, I also want to hear my language. When South Africans (and especially women!) chat, there is an incredible dynamic and energy.
Please share your best and worst adventures with us.
My best adventures were those eleven times I catered for Stef Bos and his band during their Dutch tours! I definitely hope to do it again. One of my worst adventures was also catering for Stef, ha ha, because in my eyes, it had been a flop. Although they didn’t realise it, I had stressed to get everything right and ready behind the scenes because of novice errors on my side.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
Our ‘lekker taal’. Languages, diversity, energy.
What was the strangest thing to get used to?
The relatively stiff, calm and composed way people generally respond. Very little body language. And at least in the region where I live, a motto of, ‘Doe normaal dan doe je gek genoeg.’ (Be your normal self, that’s crazy enough.) People don’t just drop in to visit; everything happens by appointment.
Will you ever return to South Africa?
I really do hope so!
What do you like best about the Netherlands?
Definitely the safety!
Did you find it difficult to adapt?
Yes and no. As I said, tend to feel lonely if I can’t chat in my language.
How does the cost of living compare to that of South Africa?
I’m not sure. Houses are, of course, extremely expensive and there is very little space! But otherwise, there are both cheap and expensive stores. I don’t believe life has to be expensive; there are possibilities for people with less money.
Do you sometimes get a chance to travel? And if so, which countries do you like to visit?
The chances are there, yes, but travelling is very expensive. Public transport, fuel, accommodation, taxes on your car, etc. is very expensive. We like to go to France on holiday – like most Dutch, ha ha!
With such a busy schedule, do you ever find the time to relax?
Certainly, but I don’t often relax. A business owner always has work to do – projects, administration or new ideas and plans.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day differs! I love the freedom to do as I like.
Would you like to add anything else?
I love this initiative and any kind of networking! It is my wish, plan and purpose to expand the cookery workshops with themes and in combination with other businesses. For example, think of travel organisations introducing their products during a workshop! Or wine connoisseurs, authors of cookbooks, even something like fashion, beauty, health, dieticians… Almost everything can be combined with delicious food!
This post is also available in: Afrikaans