Originally from China, Yuxiao Zhao now lives in Heerenveen where she works as a Technology Expert for the multinational food packaging and processing company Tetra Pak.
For Made it in the North, a series that spotlights internationals that are living and working in the North of the Netherlands, Zhao explains the ins and outs of living and working in this part of the country.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! My name is Yuxiao Zhao and I’m from China. I have a very international and multidisciplinary background. I’ve studied in both the UK and in the Netherlands, where I’ve been living for 5 years now. I currently work at Tetra Pak.
How did you find your job?
Through LinkedIn, but you can also visit the company website directly for the list of vacancies.
What made you apply for it?
Personally, I like the topic. Aside from that, it was possible to start the job without being fluent in Dutch. ‘Because Tetra Pak is an international company, the default working language is English. Plus, I contacted a previous Tetra Pak employee before joining. Tetra Pak was recommended thanks to its good working environment and thoughtful employee growth support.
How’s it going so far?
I find it very interesting. In terms of benefits, in general the salary is pretty good and fulltime employees can have 40 holidays per year. As for the working culture, the company holds a neutral attitude towards mistakes. We do not blame each other, but we do not ignore the mistakes. Instead, it is considered as a learning curve. Tetra Pak makes an effort to support employees to further grow and learn. When dealing with customers we really pay attention to building trust. We’re trained to deal with different situations. For example, if a customer asks us to share information from a competitor, we have to decline even if it means that we will lose that client. Building trust and having a long-term relationship are some of our top priorities.
What was it like settling down in the North?
I received a lot of help from the company, to be honest. There were many specific rules that I needed to follow, but I received a moving allowance from the company to help me relocate. My colleagues were also very helpful in general. Apart from that, you’re assigned a buddy during your first year to help you get more involved.
What’s one thing you like about living here?
I live in Heerenveen, a small town where people are super friendly and say hi to each other on the street.
If you want to meet new people you should take the first step to show them you’re interested in getting to know them. If your Dutch isn’t very good it doesn’t really matter as long as locals can see you’re making an effort. Another way to make friends is by attending a language course.
And the hardest part?
When I was looking for a house there were many regulations that I wasn’t aware of as I didn’t grow up with them. Most of the time those regulations are in Dutch. This made it a bit harder for me to understand.
Jumping back to learning Dutch, did you follow a language course?
I went to the one offered by the University of Groningen. I’ve tried both their online and in-person classes. Personally, the online course didn’t work for me, but I can strongly recommend the one that takes place physically in class. It’s really well organised.
Any last thing you want to add?
I’ve lived in the South of the Netherlands but I prefer the North – from the working culture to the people. It’s hard to describe. But it feels like in the North, the surface of its society is a little hard and cold, but on the inside it’s all warm.