‘You can’t bike on the roads in Italy. Here it’s a lot safer, and smoother’

Sofia and Elena are 11 years old, of British and Italian extraction, and have lived in the Netherlands for three years. Sofia is partial to the Dutch way of adding whipped cream to everything, while Elena thinks Dutch children are much more independent.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
Sofia – We ended up here because of my mum’s job. She teaches Year 5 at the [British] school. Before that we were living in Italy.
Elena – In Italy we also went to a British school and my mum taught there as well.

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international?
Sofia – I would describe myself as European because I’m half British and half Italian and I’m living in Holland.
Elena – I’m going to copy my sister’s answer.

How long do you plan to stay and why?
Elena – We’ve been here for four years and we think we might stay for another three years. We’re going to decide as a family if we’re going to stay here or if we’re going to move back to Italy.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Sofia – We speak a little bit of Dutch. We get lessons in school.
Elena – We have Dutch lessons twice a week at school. And we used to have a girl from our swimming team give us lessons on Saturday morning.

What’s your favourite Dutch food and why?
Sofia – I like that there’s lots of whipped cream on everything. I also really like kibbeling.
Elena – I like that there’s lots of fries. And stroopwaffels. I like to eat them for breakfast. But we don’t really like hagelslag.

How Dutch have you become and why?
Elena – I think a bit Dutch. Dutch children as much more independent. We take the train by ourselves to school every day. You couldn’t do that in Italy. In Italy, your parents would drive you to school every day. Here you have a lot more freedom. We meet our friends on the train and walk to school together.

Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you most like to meet and why?
Sofia – The three princesses! In Italy, they don’t really have a royal family so I would like to meet the ones here. We saw them once at a volleyball tournament. One of the princess [Catharina-Amalia] is a bit older than we are and the other two [Alexia and Ariane] are a bit younger.

What’s your top tourist tip?
Sofia – Go to Trixs. It’s a big indoor trampoline park where you can jump all over, even on the walls. You can play volleyball too.
Elena – Or to Duinrell. It’s in Wassenaar and it has twelve indoor water slides.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
Elena – The weather.
Sofia – The roads.
Elena – Also the roads. In Italy, the roads have potholes that are huge. Here the roads are very well surfaced.
Sofia – You can’t bike on the roads in Italy. Here it’s a lot safer. And smoother.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
Sofia – I would have a sleepover with friends and go to Trixs.
Elena – Me too. I’d meet up with friends and go to Trixs. Or Duinrell.

Earlier this year, we asked readers if they knew any children who would like to take part in our 10 Questions section. We had several responses, and Elena and Sofia are the first.

Sofia and Elena were talking to Molly Quell