‘Love and kindness is what truly makes you feel at home’

For Indian national Sabyasachi Sengupta, Amsterdam’s culture diversity and welcoming attitude makes it a city where dreams can come true. Sabyasachi, 30, is a banker for ABN Amro during the week and works as a professional trainer and speaker at weekends.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
Following my dreams brought me to the Netherlands. I came here in 2010 on a scholarship to study for a Masters in Business Economics at the University of Amsterdam. After I graduated, I got a job, started working, and now Amsterdam is home.

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc?
I will call myself dream-pat because in the six years I have lived in the Netherlands, I’ve been able to do everything I wanted to do. I’ve travelled to many countries, I bought my first house in Amsterdam and, most importantly, I’ve been able to pursue my passion of public speaking. The Dutch culture supports people in following what they truly wish to become.

How long do you plan to stay?
I think I can stay all my life in the Netherlands. I am single, but am lucky to have some good friends who are like family to me here.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
I am in the process of learning the language. So hopefully a year from now I will be fluent in Dutch. It’s process that takes time.

What’s your favorite Dutch food?
I miss Indian food so badly. Taste-wise nothing has changed for me. I still love spicy food. Yet just like my Dutch friends, I have dinner at 7pm – and have developed a liking for bitterballen, stroopwaffels and stamppot.

Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet queen Maxima because she is a great lady who made her way in a foreign country through guts and determination. DJ Tiesto is on my list because he is conquering the world with his passion for music. Finally, Rembrandt because I love art and am totally mesmerised by his creativity.

How Dutch have you become and why?
I think I’ve become pretty Dutch. I have become much more direct than I ever was. I keep a diary and I need to know what I am doing weeks in advance. Splitting bills with friends at a restaurant or café is the most obvious and right thing to do. Above all, I believe the true spirit of Amsterdam is to accept and love people from different nationalities, and that this attracts excellence and diversity.

What’s your top tourist tip?
Go to the top floor of the central library in Amsterdam to get a free and fabulous view of this city. Don’t forget to enjoy the hot noodles and the yummy pizza that they serve at the library.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
In 2014 and 2015, I had the honour and privilege of representing the Netherlands in the Toastmasters District 59 Speech Evaluation Contest (a Europe-wide speaking competition). I was so overwhelmed by the support I received and still remember all my Dutch friends cheering for me when I won in 2015. I was surprised by this level of affection, love and kindness. It was truly touching, and that’s what makes you feel home.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
If I had only 24 hours left, I would organise a workshop. In past years I have given many workshops and masterclasses on how to improve speaking skills in various places in the Netherlands. So I would like to do one last masterclass and share every bit of knowledge I have on how to be a better speaker, and say goodbye. In this way even if I am gone, neither the Netherlands nor me will ever forget each other.

You can find out more about Sabyaschi’s workshops via his website