ACCESS Moves into Another New Home

1 Jun 2016 | Deborah Valentine

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First appeared in  THEXPAT Journal Summer 2016 publication


ACCESS Moves into Another New Home


After our first year in Utrecht, at the Expat Center Utrecht (ECU), we are now preparing to accommodate ourselves in yet another new home, at the Expatcenter Amsterdam. As with any move into a new home, there is mix of anticipation and a little trepidation.


It Takes a Year

Ask almost any seasoned expat and they will tell you that it takes a full year before one really feels ‘at home’ in a new place. All the firsts have to pass before one can look back and say, “Oh, done that already”. The turning point for many? The return from a holiday or trip back to where they come from. Upon their return, the process of doing things for a second time starts: the first day at school is no longer as overwhelming; instead of unpacking boxes in your new home, you’re watering the plants which may have wilted during your absence; the first meetings with colleagues, neighbours and new faces become ‘welcome back’ moments. The list goes on. And let us not forget the trial and error that was involved in finding the right spots in your home for all your belongings. Upon your return, instinct takes over, and you simply know where everything is.


Finding Our Feet

For ACCESS, or any organisation, it is not much different. Our first year at the ECU was a case of finding our feet, and locating the right space for our computers, files, folders and flyers. It took some adjustment to familiarise ourselves with the different Internet protocols and procedures with which we had to merge our own systems and practices. Recruiting and training a team also took some getting used to. It was different doing so for a team while working ‘off-site’ from our back offices in The Hague – and adjustments had to be made. Now, a year later, we are so comfortable in our new space and have learnt so much along the way, that we are ready to turn those firsts into lessons learnt, and best practices developed and to spread our wings further – by creating a little space for ourselves in Amsterdam, at the Expatcenter Amsterdam. Apparently, we like ‘firsts’!


A New Place to Call Home

ACCESS has had a Helpdesk at The Hague International Centre (THIC) since 2010. There, we have carved a little place to call our own, and from it, our dedicated Information & Hospitality officers have been attending to thousands of people, dealing with inquiries and complementing the formalities provided by the City of The Hague and the Immigration & Naturalisation Services (IND) – to name just two of our activities. This experience has provided ACCESS with a wealth of knowledge; in how to prepare the teams that work at THIC; how to streamline and professionalise our recruitment and how, more importantly, to ensure that – as a team – the volunteers at THIC feel as rewarded in what they do, as do the clients they serve. If there is one thing we have learnt in our almost 30 years of existence, it is that, at the end of the day, every home is about the people in it and how they feel and are a part of it. This is as true for new families that are expatriating as it has been for us.


Home Away from Home

We pride ourselves in filling our home – be it at our back offices, THIC or ECU – with dedicated, enthusiastic professionals. Without them, ACCESS would be an office, not a community – or, in the words of one past volunteer: “A home away from home.”


Easing In

So, taking all these lessons into consideration and working closely with another grass-roots organisation which fosters a sense of home and community, Amsterdam Mamas, ACCESS is busy recruiting volunteers for Amsterdam in order to welcome them into our new home at the Expatcentre Amsterdam. Want to volunteer with us? Attend one of our Information Mornings to find out more. Details on our website,


You are welcome to visit us:

ACCESS Helpdesk at Expatcenter Amsterdam

IN Amsterdam – World Trade Center Amsterdam

I-Tower, ground floor (entrance via zuidplein)

Strawinskylaan 1767

1077 XX Amsterdam

Monday & Wednesday 9:00 – 13:00
Tuesday & Thursday 13:00 - 17:00
Friday 9:00 - 17:00



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