Experiences of a Resident


… And not just a resident, meet Steve!

We know it has been a tough time with the restrictions, especially for expats. That’s why we decided to ask some of our residents about their experiences. What’s it like to stay with us during COVID, how do they deal with it? Steve Scarbrough is staying with us for about two months now. On January 16 he, his wife and their dogs checked in to a Two Bedroom Apartment in our Gershwin Serviced Apartments property in Amsterdam. Now, let’s get to know mr. Scarbrough!

  • Before we start, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Steve Scarbrough (//SKAR-bro//). I am from the United States, recently hired by Ingka/IKEA in their Amsterdam office and my choice of take-out food is steamed pot-stickers. I could eat those by the dozen!

  • When it comes to staying away from home for business, finding somewhere that is more than just a place to sleep can make all the difference. Why did you choose a serviced apartment of Corporate Housing Factory (instead of a hotel). What are the perks?

You are so correct to note sleep. From day one, arriving with jetlag, CHF found a place for my wife and me that had sound insulation, allowing for recovery and blessed sleep. CHF offers many advantages over a hotel, notably that the entire experience is like a concierge service. I got specific communication to help on arrival, I received timely responses to questions about the residence and community surrounding it, for example, including help with new European devices I was unfamiliar with, and I got in-person attention, despite the pandemic.

Last months a lot changed due to COVID-19. Can you tell me about your experiences as an expat in the Netherlands in times of corona?

  • Were you able to see something of our beautiful capital Amsterdam? If so, what did you enjoy most?

Yes, though we stayed inside for quarantine, we afterward ventured out a bit. We found the support for bicyclists great, for we are also bicyclists. We noted two levels of detail, first, small things like the distinction in paving stones, one color and shape for bicycles, another for walkers, another yet for automobiles. Moreover, visual and tactile support for those visually impaired. Second, the macro view, the green spaces and attention to ecology; parks surrounding the canal systems, electric charging stations for bicycles and cars, both, abounded, nearly everywhere we looked.

Later we tried the public transportation system. We ventured to Amsterdam Centraal via the metro, purchasing refillable pass cards that work seamlessly, whether on bus, tram, metro, or inter-city train. Once downtown, we explored the city as tourists. Yet clearly the city was quiet, limited by the pandemic. Even so, the architecture, the canals—breathtaking. We happened to be here as the canals froze. The communities would come and skate on the ice—what a sight to see!

  • Which wine/band/app/take-away place has kept you alive and well during the coronavirus crisis?

Don’t laugh—we have come to appreciate the weekly deals on varieties of wine at Albert Heijn, the local grocery chain. I particularly appreciated the sale on Italian prosecco. I also like the Ziggo television channel of classical tunes, sometimes switching to channels with the Dutch language, where we can associate the words we hear with those we see, given closed captioning. In fact, we were advised to check out Sesame Street to learn the language. Sadly, it goes too fast for me—hah!

  • Is there something you want to share with our community about working from (a temporary) home during these times?

We appreciate that the value of the locale continually unfolds. Interspersed between skyscrapers and gorgeous parks, there is access to highways, food service, grocers, and of course, Internet. That we could jump online, launch a VPN service and gain access to online services was crucial during the pandemic, not just for work, but for subsequent relocation activity, such as mapping out (badly, in my case) directions to Immigration. That it was readily available was a blessing.

  • And last but not least; what is the first thing you want to do when all corona measures are suspended?

I would like to attend public church services here and worship in person again. I would like to join a chorus and sing aloud together. I would like to visit the museums of Amsterdam to appreciate the works of art. I would like to travel—to meet my colleagues and family, enjoying once again dinner at a restaurant or microbrewery – to offer a toast to the end of the Year of Covid-19.