22 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Ever dreamed of having dozens of pets but know that you don’t realistically have the space or resources to care for them? This opportunity might be for you; a zoo in Brabant is currently looking for a new owner!

Looking for a career change? Why not buy a zoo!

On the hunt for your next big business venture and like the idea of running your own company? Well, if you happen to have 5 million euros lying around, you could invest it in an animal park that comes fully equipped with 150 different species and 2.000 inhabitants – most of which are parrots, parakeets, cranes, birds of prey and owls.

Located not too far from the city of Eindhoven, Zoo Veldhoven has suffered major financial losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the current owners are looking to slow down a little – but they’re in no real rush to sell. “If a good candidate came forward, that wouldn’t be bad. But that may well take another 10 to 15 years,” explained owner Richard Loomans.

Take a look at what’s on offer in the video below.

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22 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Major American newspaper The New York Times has published its list of 52 sustainable travel destinations around the world, and has named Gouda an ideal spot for travellers who want to be “part of the solution.”

52 Places for a Changed World

Looking into the future of travel, as more and more people consider their carbon footprint and attempt to live a more sustainable lifestyle, The New York Times has compiled a list of 52 travel destinations “for a changed world,” highlighting places that embody more sustainable practices and are working to encourage environmentally-friendly lifestyles.

There are a couple of big names on the list – everywhere from Naples to Northumberland, from Mexico to Morocco – the newspaper features national parks, cities, attractions and countries that should be added to the bucket lists of any traveller, whether they be ecologically minded or not. 

Gouda: A charming Dutch city for sustainable travel

There are of course a number of European entries, but a notable one for anyone who lives in the Netherlands would have to be Gouda, a city known for its quaint streets and delicious cheese. 

The New York Times notes the issue of overtourism in Amsterdam and the country’s push to encourage visitors to look outside of the Dutch capital – emphasising Gouda as a “charming” alternative for those looking to explore the Netherlands. 

“Gouda is an ideal base for a car-free visit to the Netherlands,” the paper writes. “An extensive system of well-marked bicycle routes (with charging stations for e-bikes) makes it easy to explore the city and surrounding region.” The Dutch city was overjoyed to be featured, Thierry van Vugt, alderman for city marketing and tourism in Gouda, telling De Telegraaf it was “nice to see that Gouda is also on the international map and that the city’s rich cultural history is being seen.”

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The Voice of Holland, one of the country’s most prominent entertainment shows and undoubtedly one of the biggest exports of Dutch media tycoon John de Mol, has been a staple on TVs across the Netherlands for 12 years. While the show’s influence isn’t quite as big as it once was, it continues to draw in millions of viewers per episode, and is one of RTL 4’s biggest shows. 

However, recently the programme and its creators have come under fire as news emerged of several of those involved in the show abusing their position and taking advantage of young female contestants and colleagues. 

Reports of sexual assault at The Voice of Holland

In August 2020, presenter of the BNNVARA web series BOOS, Tim Hofman, issued a request to members of the public who had either worked on or taken part in The Voice and who knew about or had experienced (sexual) misconduct from senior members of staff.

The past few weeks have seen various reports of sexual misconduct surface surrounding the show, with Jeroen Rietbergen – the show’s bandleader and brother-in-law of De Mol – announcing his resignation on January 15, saying in a statement that he had had “contact of a sexual nature” with women involved in the show.

In addition to Rietbergen’s resignation, allegations had been made against two other employees involved in the making of The Voice, one of which was celebrity coach Ali B. 

BOOS: This is The Voice

While some information had already leaked, much was left unclear ahead of the airing of the most recent episode of BOOS. After Hofman’s public request last summer, the programme carried out an investigation into the allegations, spanning several months. The findings were presented in an 80-minute long episode that aired on Thursday afternoon.

BOOS reports that dozens of women experienced sexual assault at the hands of four staff members on The Voice: Rietbergen, Ali B, Marco Borsato, and one of the show’s directors. 

Jeroen Rietbergen

19 women – both (former) employees and contestants – have come forward with allegations against Rietbergen, who ahead of his resignation had worked on The Voice for over 10 years. The allegations include inappropriate text messages in which Rietbergen sent young women unsolicited nude photos, or suggested booking hotel rooms for them to meet.

Rietbergen is also reported to have made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to one 18-year-old contestant. Former candidate Nienke Wijnhoven has also said Rietbergen sexually assaulted her, touching her inappropriately in his studio. Rietbergen denies the allegations. 

Ali B

Ali B, who has been a coach on the show since 2016, has also come under fire. He has been accused of rape and of groping young women. Several women have explained how the rapper promised to help them make a success of their music careers, making plans to meet them late at night or outside of the television studio. 

Two charges have been filed against Ali B, one of which is for rape. Ali B denies the allegations, saying he had consensual sex with one former candidate.

Marco Borsato

At the end of last year, reports emerged that Marco Borsato had inappropriately touched a woman when she was just 15 years old. Now, six women have accused Borsato of sexual abuse, three of whom were underage at the time of the incident. 

Borsato has been involved in The Voice since 2011, and has been a coach on The Voice Kids since the show’s inception in 2012. The singer is yet to respond to the allegations.

The Voice director

BOOS also mentioned at least 15 reports of sexual misconduct against one of The Voice’s directors, who remains unnamed. Various women say he made inappropriate comments and would touch them inappropriately. He has denied the allegations.

BOOS interview: John de Mol’s response

The final part of the BOOS episode included a lengthy interview with John de Mol himself, in which the media tycoon reacted to the allegations presented in the episode. 

De Mol was quick to express his shock at all that he had heard and was adamant that, in spite of Rietbergen’s family connections to De Mol and his role in the show, he held no power over any of the contestants on The Voice, and appeared unable to understand how he could be perceived as having any real power: “I know what his role is. If he pretends to be more important and someone is not able to distinguish between them, it is out of my sight.”

De Mol said that in his years at the helm of The Voice, only one allegation had been brought to his attention, when in April 2019 a candidate said she had been harassed by Rietbergen. De Mol explained how Rietbergen was issued his first and final warning, but that no investigation was carried out into the bandleader’s behaviour. De Mol also said that no protocol was in place to monitor the behaviour of coaches or prevent any misconduct: “I never thought that could happen at all.”

Since the episode aired, De Mol has come under fire for his response to the various allegations. “Make sure you open your mouth,” he said to those who experience sexual abuse. “I hope it doesn’t have a big impact on their lives,” De Mol said to the victims. “If this happens again [I hope] they have learned, they have learned to report it immediately.”

What happens next?

Ahead of Thursday’s episode, RTL had already announced the decision to shelf all remaining episodes of the current series of The Voice until further notice. The show has also lost a number of big-name sponsors, including T-Mobile and Lidl. RTL has also suspended all collaboration with Ali B, and the publishing company responsible for the rapper’s book De Ali B-methode has suspended all sales.

On Thursday, RTL chief Sven Sauvé announced in a statement that the channel had asked the Public Prosecution Service (OM) to actively investigate all allegations of abuse: “All parties involved must actively map out which concrete measures can be taken to prevent future abuses.” Sauvé said. “RTL has asked the OM this week to actively investigate the reported abuses. In addition, the producer of The Voice (ITV) has commissioned an external investigation. RTL has urged ITV to conduct this investigation with the greatest possible care and impartiality.” 

Meanwhile, female employees at De Mol’s media company Talpa took out a full-page advertisement in the AD on Friday which read “Dear John, it isn’t up to women.” Many Dutch celebrities and journalists have also expressed shock at De Mol’s reaction to the allegations.

The Dutch police and the OM are calling on all victims and witnesses to report any cases of unwanted sexual behaviour.

While searching for a new topic to write on, I thought why not try something new in the new year? Since I have been coaching people who have successfully changed their careers for more than 10 years already, I thought who would give me better advice on a career jump than them? They’ve been there, done that and with success.

So, I went through stories in my book “Career Jump!”, testimonials and reviews and distilled the most common AND most interesting pieces of advice.

If you feel stuck in your career, maybe this year it is finally the time to do something about your professional life – otherwise, you’ll go nuts.

What do you really want from your life and career?“When you feel stuck, that’s when you know it’s time to re-evaluate your situation and think about what is it that you really want from life and your career.”

That’s the most common thing that I, as a coach, hear from my clients. At the end of coaching, I always ask my clients what piece of advice they would give to others who are at the beginning of their coaching journey, and this piece of advice is by far the most common. Acknowledge you feel stuck, take time to ask yourself what it is that you want from your career and use the input to move forward.

This advice was given by my client who changed career from project officer in an NGO to a doctoral researcher in academia. Moreover, she also decided to leave the career she built for herself in the Netherlands and move back to her home country.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone“Pushing yourself into that uncomfortable space where you doubt your abilities is where the magic happens.”

This advice was given by a client who transitioned from her career as an HR manager in the healthcare industry to a director of participation in C-suite educational organisation. “Life is too short to not have some aspects of what you love present in your professional career,” she said. “Your job doesn’t have to finally define you, but it should make you feel that you are a valued team member, and that the purpose of the organisation is aligned with your values and beliefs.”

Find the right support“Ask for help – different people need different types of support at different moments in their life, so don’t be afraid to ask until you feel you knocked on the right door.”

I truly believe that the more people who support you in your journey, and the more people (given that they are positive ones) that know about your plans, the better. But, as my client writes, we need different types of support at different times. Sometimes we need professional support from a coach or a mentor, sometimes we need the support of our family or friends. The message however is clear – “keep on knocking!”

Learn how to deal with setbacks“Build mechanisms to deal with setbacks so that you won’t get discouraged quickly.”

This advice comes from my client who made a spectacular career jump from strategy and business development manager to managing director in a sustainability scale-up. “There will be setbacks: for every two steps forward, you’ll take one step backwards,” she said. “Real change takes time. Do not get discouraged.”

But if you are serious about the change, the best thing to do is to anticipate when setbacks come, so if and when they arrive you will be fully prepared. She also mentions that “if you apply for a new job, always have 3 applications in the pipeline. If one opportunity falls away, you are still left with hope for the other two.”

Learn to use your frustration to your advantage“It is ok to feel frustrated. Frustration can be a powerful tool that helps to motivate you. Use your frustration to come up with new ideas and new direction.”

I love this piece of advice as our society often pressures us to quickly soothe uncomfortable feelings. And of course, there is no point in feeling frustrated endlessly, but if you use your frustration as a tool it can give you lots of insights and ideas.

This piece of advice was given by my client who left the NGO world in order to follow the entrepreneurial path and with time started his own chocolate factory, how cool is that? He further says “follow your natural curiosity to experiment with different ideas. You can’t process everything simply by thinking it through. But by following your curiosity, in time, you might just discover what motivates you.”

So, now I am curious to find out which piece of advice did YOU find the most valuable or the most surprising? Share in the comments below! And if you did your own career jump, share with others what would your advice be!

What do the airports of Eindhoven, New York and Brisbane have in common? They are all connected in one way or another with Royal Schiphol Group, the company that owns and operates Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Just like you can have brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents in different parts of the world, Schiphol Group has relatives in four continents. And we introduce them to you here!

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You will come across all kinds of things at Schiphol. Polar bears for example. Really and truly! When it snows and freezes you can just see them in action at our airport. Not the white furry ones from the North Pole of course, we have our own polar bears. They keep the runways free of snow and ice so that the aircraft can continue to fly in the cold.

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With data from other European countries suggesting that the Omicron wave does little to increase pressure felt by the healthcare system, the Dutch government is facing growing pressure from all sides to lift the remaining lockdown restrictions and reopen the hospitality and cultural industries. 

Dutch cultural industry protests lockdown rules

To protest the continued closure of museums and theatres, various cultural institutions across the Netherlands opened their doors on Wednesday – not for musical performances or art exhibitions though, but as temporary hairdressers or sports centres. 

In Amsterdam, renowned venues including the Concertgebouw, De Kleine Komedie, the Van Gogh Museum, and Koninklijk Theater Tuschinski opened their doors to the public. While getting a haircut on stage at De Kleine Komedie, customers could enjoy performances by famous Dutch comedians including Youp van ‘t Hek and Claudia de Briej. At Kapsalon Het Concertgebouw, customers received haircuts to the soundtrack of the Concertgebouw Orchestra

Those involved in the protest were warned by mayor Femke Halsema that the restrictions would be enforced: “We understand your disappointment and also the financial need for perspective. At the same time, we are still in a pandemic and the national corona measures apply. The council has to enforce that.” Participating venues in Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven also faced fines and official warnings, while those in Nijmegen had the support of the municipality and mayor Hubert Bruls.

Restaurants in the Netherlands hope to reopen next week

Meanwhile, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), the largest union representing hospitality businesses in the Netherlands, has outlined a plan for partially lifting restrictions for bars, cafes, nightclubs, and restaurants, and will present it to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Thursday. 

KHN’s proposal involves gradually allowing the hospitality industry to return to normal, with the first relaxations coming into effect on January 26. The outline suggests reopening businesses under 3G rules from next week, with mandatory seating and refusing entry to new customers after 10pm. 

From February 9, KHN proposes lifting all restrictions on terraces and getting rid of mandatory seating rules for indoor venues, as well as pushing the closing time back to midnight. From February 23, the union hopes only the 3G rules would still be in place, with all remaining restrictions abolished from as early as mid-March.

COVID-19 infection rate falls, relaxations looking likely

Businesses aren’t the only ones calling for change. Mayors across 30 different municipalities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Breda, and The Hague, have demanded the cabinet “fundamentally review” the current COVID-19 policy, and ensure the removal of the current “ad hoc measures,” replacing them instead with “predictable, logical, and reasonable” restrictions.

A recent survey conducted by I&O Research on behalf of NOS found that support for the government’s approach was declining. Amongst the 2.230 people surveyed, 45 percent felt further relaxations could be announced, and 19 percent said all restrictions should be lifted. “This costs way too much, financially, mentally, health,” one respondent said.

The weekly report published by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday revealed that, while the number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands was still rising, the number of people being treated in Dutch hospitals continued to fall. Insiders expect Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Ernst Kuipers will therefore announce further relaxations at the next coronavirus press conference on January 25.

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Feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. You can be around other people, your partner, your family and still feel lonely. You can be all by yourself and yet, not feel lonely at all. Contrariwise, you can feel at peace, connected, calm, joyful, satisfied with your life, you name it. So, what is loneliness then?

What is loneliness?Loneliness is the feeling of disconnection. Loneliness is a profound state of distress. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many people when they are going through tough periods in their life, and I have come to observe and realise that during these periods they experience two kinds of loneliness, without meaning that one excludes the other. Actually, in many cases they are interrelated. I will explain what I mean.

Disconnection from othersOne type of loneliness is the feeling of disconnection from others. It’s when we feel that people around us are not aligned with us, not in the same space with us. This means that they are not able to understand us, to feel our struggles, to resonate with our experience. They are not getting us. We don’t share the same values; we don’t authentically care about each other.

Not presentIt’s the moment when we are in a conversation with someone and they don’t seem genuinely interested in us: no eye contact, distracted on their phone, busy in their mind with something more interesting or urgent. We can see that they are not there, present and connected with us.

Lonely even if in a relationshipIt’s the moment when we sit next to our partner, but we have nothing to talk about. There is no emotional, no intellectual, no physical connection. We are absorbed in our own worlds. We are afraid to reach out to each other. We are emotionally exhausted from trying for our relationship. We are in pain and hurt from our partner and we choose to disconnect as a way of protecting our last energy resources. We have forgotten how it is to be emotionally connected.

Not belonging, too differentIt’s the moment we are part of a group, a work group, a family group, a friend group, but we still feel that we don’t belong there. We feel too different: different values, different culture, different beliefs. We feel as if we are aliens. On top of that, no one is trying to help us integrate; contrariwise, they let us struggle alone, and they go about forming even stronger bonds with the other members of the group, but not with us.

Not only do we feel ostracised, but we also feel ashamed of who we are. We keep ruminating over what is wrong with us, how unfairly everyone is treating us, how unlovable or unlikable we feel, and whether that means that we will be alone and disconnected forever.

Pandora’s box with all our fears and negative self-talk has opened.

Feeling like a burdenIt’s the moment when we feel we are a burden to someone’s life. When we are struggling with our mental health, we assume that people around us will not understand us, or they will judge us, or even worse, they will invalidate our struggle. We are afraid that we will impose on someone if we share what we are going through and that they will not have the space nor the mental capacity to support us and be there for us. This is when we hide our challenges, but that is when loneliness peaks even more. It’s us on our own.

Feeling like the odd one outIt’s also when we belong in a minority group and we feel that we will always be the “odd ones”, the “strangers”. For example, this is particularly common for immigrants or people who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community; or people who belong to different race ethnicities or cultural communities.

Disconnection from selfBut there is also another kind of loneliness. It’s the one we feel when we have disconnected from ourselves. After a long time of taking care of others, supporting them and focusing on their needs, it makes perfect sense why we don’t recognise ourselves anymore. We feel estranged from parts of ourselves, we don’t know who we are, what we want, where we are going. We don’t know what gives us joy, meaning and purpose in life. We have probably changed a lot, we have grown, and we don’t know which direction we are headed towards.

Loneliness is there in every transition, either internally or externally. It’s one of these moments that we call “existential crisis”, and these moments are very lonely ones.

Not liking myselfIt’s also the moments when we don’t like ourselves. It is common especially when we are struggling with our mental health. It is then when our inner critic yells all these harsh and nasty messages in our head: “You are not enough”, “You are a failure”, “There is something wrong with you”, “You will be alone forever”, “People don’t like you”, “You don’t deserve to be happy”, and so on.

Not only do we listen to these messages, but we surrender to them, we agree, and we repeat them in our head during our sleepless nights, when people mistreat us, when others judge us (“See? I was right!”), when people forget about us, when we can’t make a decision, when we face a setback.

Not a good friend of mineIt’s the moments we are not good friends with ourselves. Instead of being understanding, validating, supportive and compassionate especially when we are struggling, we dismiss ourselves and we push ourselves even further.

How to defeat loneliness and create connectionBut how do we create connection? Here are a couple of ideas on how to create connection with people around us but also with ourselves:

Connection with others Join groups of people that have the same values and interests as you Practice empathetic listening, to try to get into their shoes Be authentic and honest when around them Be curious about them and non-judgmental about their life and their life experiences Accept them as they are Give, offer, help and support them Connection with yourself Allow your feelings and accept them as they are Stop the harsh critical voice in your head Try to stay with the discomfort Be true to your needs Make space for your needs and set boundaries to others Have fun when alone Comfort yourself when hurt Connect with your values, your wants and likes – journaling helps with that Explore meaning and purpose in your life Practice self-love and self-acceptance Loneliness is…Remember: Loneliness is the need for connection. Loneliness is the signal that reminds us how much we value relationships, and we can’t survive without them. Loneliness is the message that our body sends us that we are important, and we need to become friends with ourselves again.

In order to defeat loneliness, we have to listen to its message.

20 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

It’s common knowledge that petrol prices in the Netherlands have broken records over the last few months, rising to above the two euro mark for the first time ever in June 2022. Now, diesel prices are also reaching record highs, rising to above 1,80 euros for the first time this week.

Price of diesel reaches 1,80 euros per litre

After a dip in petrol prices following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, last summer saw petrol and diesel prices rise across the country. Now, data from consumer collective UnitedConsumers reveals diesel prices have reached a new milestone, breaking Dutch records and now costing 1,813 euros per litre. 

According to UnitedConsumers director Paul van Selms, it’s possible that rising inflation rates could mean drivers see the price of diesel rise to above two euros a litre this year: “That is not the expectation, but anything is possible.”

Rising petrol prices in the Netherlands

Currently, in the Netherlands, the average suggested retail price for E10 (Euro95) petrol is 2,134 euros a litre. LPG costs 1,139 euros per litre. On Tuesday, oil prices also reached their highest level since October 2014, with a barrel of North Sea oil now costing almost 77 euros. Experts are already speculating that prices could soon exceed 100 euros a barrel.

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19 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

New figures from the National Institute for Family Finance Information (Nibud) reveal that, on average, households and families in the Netherlands will have 40 euros less to spend each month this year as a result of rising prices. 

Households in the Netherlands suffer from rising cost of living

While many people will see their monthly salary increase slightly in 2022, Nibud says it will not be enough to offset the rising cost of living in the Netherlands, revealing that households across the country will see their purchasing power fall significantly this year. 

Research conducted by Nibud looked into the purchasing power of 117 example Dutch households, and, keeping mind an inflation rate of 3 percent and the rising cost of health insurance and gas and electricity, calculated that the purchasing power of households in the Netherlands will decrease by an average of 40 euros per month in 2022.

“Everyone will notice,” said Nibud director Arjan Vliegenthart of the rising prices, highlighting the cost of energy, petrol, and weekly shops as the key reasons for families being between nine and 116 euros short every month. 

Pressure on Dutch government to present purchasing power plan

Nibud has expressed concerns about the impact of rising prices for those on lower incomes, particularly those who receive welfare benefits or are getting by on small pensions, and has therefore called on municipalities to act quickly when it comes to processing and distributing the 200 euros worth of compensation some households have been promised in order to combat rising energy prices.

The Dutch government has also voiced concerns about the rising costs of living; in a debate in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Tuesday, MPs called on the new cabinet to take concrete steps in order to improve the purchasing power of residents.

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