X Magazine for Xpats
October 31, 2010 Leave a Comment
Source: Maastricht Region website
When I came back from Paris last Sunday, I found a copy of the first edition of X, a new magazine for “expats working, living and studying in the Southeast Netherlands”, waiting for me in the mail.
I was looking forward to it, because I was curious to find out how my short profile and photograph had turned out in the “Home is where the heart is” section of the magazine, in which five expats are invited to share their favourite spots in the region.
I knew that my Portuguese friend Cláudia Vaz was also featured in the magazine and I smiled when I saw our portraits and quotes about the places we recommended to visit in Maastricht: in my case, the Selexyz Dominicanen bookshop, rated the “fairest in the world” by the British Guardian newspaper back in 2008, and for Cláudia, the terrace at Café Zuid near the Meuse river, where she likes to come and relax in the summer months.
When I was invited a few months ago to contribute to the new magazine, I was given a general outline and description of the initiative: “X is published by the Brainport International Community and co-financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Provinces of North Brabant and Limburg and the city region of Eindhoven. It is a 68 page full-colour lively, eye-catching and dynamic guide for highly-educated, active, curious and ambitious expats who enjoy new ventures but don’t know their way around in the region yet.”
Mission accomplished! I would say. X is an easy and pleasant read, bursting with engaging expats’ stories and enticing tips, an often candid sense of humour and witty features playing on the name of the magazine: “Xpat Vs Xpat”, “Xplore”, “Xpert”, “Xtra”.
In fact, the letter X is well xploited (sorry, couldn’t help it!) in the magazine’s layout and gives it an energetic feel throughout.
In this first edition 2010-2011, the magazine mainly focuses on the cities of Eindhoven and Maastricht and their surroundings (Brainport Region and Maastricht Region). The feature articles “Xplore Eindhoven” and “Xplore Maastricht” take readers through a day out in the two cities, with a list of things to do and to see and addresses to check out.
To me, X is a welcome addition to the existing resources for expats in the Netherlands, because it targets the more specific, not insignificant and yet often forgotten international community living in the southeastern corner of the country.
With feature articles such as “Yes, it’s homemade”, “Xperts” and “Let’s go out”, where typical or innovative regional products (Limburg vlaai, ASML chip machine) and activities (Dutch Design Week, TEFAF) are placed in the spotlight, this new publication clearly wants to take up the challenge to put the Southeast Netherlands on the national and international map.
In any case, the airports of Eindhoven and Maastricht certainly seem to occupy an advantageous central spot on the map of Europe on the “Fly Away… and come back” page.
X also gives insights and tips to help expats feel more at home not only in the Provinces of Brabant and Limburg, but in the Netherlands as a whole. There’s for example a street interview with Dutch passers-by who explain what makes the HEMA shop such a typical Dutch institution, a list of tricky words in Dutch, like “slim” (it doesn’t mean thin) and “mierenneuker” (not to be translated literally), and a funny quiz testing readers on their knowledge of the Dutch culture: “Are you Dutch proof?”
What I find the most interesting about the magazine is its Southeastern perspective, seen from the Dutch point of view. This may sound strange, but living in the Maastricht region, I must admit that I seldom place myself geographically in reference to Eindhoven. I usually say for example that I live 30 minutes away from Aachen, Liège and Hasselt in the Meuse-Rhine euroregion and one hour away from Brussels, the capital of Europe.
This new magazine shows me yet another way to place myself and makes me realise how much I still can discover about Eindhoven, the “city of light”, and the “top technology” Brainport region.
I now also know that it is possible to travel to Eindhoven entirely by bike, on a 80 km path along the South Willem’s canal (Zuid Willemsvaart ) with “no hills, no traffic lights, and no traffic!” Definitely something to try out.
By Sueli Brodin
5-7 November 2010: Brainport International Weekend