Benno Schoonraad arrived in the Netherlands at the end of August 2023, together with his wife Carey. Read more about the story of Benno.
Benno, why did you emigrate to the Netherlands?
My wife and I had for a long time wanted to see more of the world. Emigration was something that we had started talking about and thinking through for a good many years. Emigration is by no means an easy or a causal decision. There is a lot to leaving your country behind that you have known for most of your life to see what the wider world has to offer. The Netherlands was a country my wife had visited in the past, and it left a substantial impression on her. We felt culturally the Netherlands would be the best fit for us in the European Region; and we felt a little bit more at ease thinking that there are some similarities in languages that we spoke. Our primary goal, however, was to find a place that we felt could be our new home, and we felt the Netherlands was the perfect fit!
Can you tell us something how you do like the Netherlands?
So much to our surprise – the languages were not quite as similar as what we had anticipated 🙂 . Driving on the right side of the road is also a bit of an adjustment, but so far we are having a wonderful time in the Netherlands! Within our first couple of weeks after arriving, we had already acquired our fietsen and with that we could explore our town, and all the neighboring villages. This was immensely pleasant! On arriving in the Netherlands from South Africa, the biggest difference I would say has been how amazingly green the Netherlands is. Both in terms of nature, and how much care goes into recycling! Thus far the weather has also been amazingly pleasant, but I am told that winter is on its way 🙂 The amount of people out and about is also something to behold. It is very unlike South Africa to see so many people walking around in nature and the neighborhoods at all hours of the day (and night)! The nature is amazing here!
Please tell us something about the projects you are currently working on.
I am currently working at a company called R&R – which is in the retail space. I have been with them for just under a month, and from my understanding, their primary objectives are around the workforce management for various companies in the retail space. The labor costs in the Netherlands are quite high – and as such, the software designed at R&R is to provide insights and useful tools to help manage the workforce at these companies. The code base is fairly large, and this is my first real dive into the world of microservices and micro-front ends. Predominitaly with a .NET focus, but I am on the platform team, which also handles a lot of the DevOps related duties. There has been a lot to learn – and will be happy to share some of my learnings in the years to come. So far the R&R staff have been amazing and shed light on a lot of their functionality and operations.
Did the process of emigration go smoothly?
This process was a bit of a rollercoaster. It is a lot of hurrying up and then waiting. The support of summit developers throughout this whole process was amazing though, and this helped take a lot of the stress out of the process. The most stressful part for us was having to put our dog in a plane separate from us, and hope that he arrives in the Netherlands (he did 🙂 ). It was amazing to know that summit developers was helping us with all of the arduous admin parts (like VISA applications / finding housing / signing up for utilities etc.). Our biggest surprise though, was arriving in the Netherlands and having a huge crate full of food and snacks to see us through the first couple of days while we found our feet. This was absolutely amazing (thank you!!!).
Can you explain to the South Africans who are considering to go overseas how you did experience the support from us?
Ton, Matthijs and Paulien have been amazingly supportive throughout the whole process. As mentioned above, it is not just knowing that they are there to answer and assist with the arduous things – but the little things as well, like making sure you have food and snacks when you arrive. This process would have been near impossible without their support and patience. Especially when unexpected delays can occur (and sometimes they might). Ton, Matthijs and Paulien are always just a call away with a plan, and support when needed. If you are thinking about coming over – I would wholeheartedly recommend giving summit developers a chance. If you do find yourself coming over, and wanting to talk to another South African – summit developers will also put you in touch with one of the many that they have assisted, and this is also immensely helpful. summit developers has been instrumental in getting us here, so if you are considering it – adventure awaits 🙂