‘How Dutch have I become? I ride my bike everywhere’

CVSofia Saxlund, 24, is from Uruguay and works as a design intern. She lives in Zaandam and has been in the Netherlands since April.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
We did a trip around Europe with many of my friends from Uruguay. We were 28 friends travelling together, taking up almost entire buses and train carriages. I knew right from the start I was going to stay here as soon as the trip was over. I wasn’t sure which city to choose, but when we arrived in Amsterdam I fell in love with it and I knew this was the one.

I first spent a couple of months living at my aunt’s place in Amsterdam. Then I moved a couple of times, always in Amsterdam. But not only are the rents in Amsterdam too high, it’s also difficult to find a place where they let you use the address to register at the council. Luckily I met a lot of nice people here, they helped me finding a new home and many of them told me Zaandam was a cool place to start looking, not so far from Amsterdam and much cheaper. I’ve been living there for a couple of months now. And I LOVE it!

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc – and why?
I’m simple. I think we should all do what we really love and not worry about how much money we make doing it, or if others think it’s the right thing for us to do or not. The same goes for the place where we live. Once you find that place you love, where you feel ‘you’, there’s nothing that can take you away from there.

How long do you plan to stay?
So far, I have no intention of leaving. Maybe I want to keep travelling for a while, but I know I’ll end up here after all.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
No, I don’t speak Dutch. And that’s one of the reasons Amsterdam is the best. I should start learning though.

What’s your favourite Dutch food?
Krentenbollen! What I like about krentenbollen is they look like regular rolls, so you’d think you should eat them with butter, or ham and cheese. But then you try them and they are not what you’d expect. That bread and raisins are a perfect match. And even if most of people in Uruguay think I’m crazy, we could easily survive just eating krentenbollen for lunch every day.

What do you miss about back home?
My friends and family, of course. And the beach. Uruguay has the most beautiful beaches.

How Dutch have you become?
Wow, that’s a hard one. I ride my bike everywhere. Does that count?

What’s your top tourist tip
Don’t use any maps. Just walk around and get lost. You’ll get to know the most amazing places and people that way.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
Someone told me that a huge percentage of all the world’s bacon comes from here.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
I would go to some park, have a picnic with my friends, and then a few drinks after the sun goes down. Then I’d go take a walk around the centre, and go from one cool pub to another until the night is over.