‘At one point I had three bikes’

caroline vinesCarolyn Vines, who has been in the Netherlands for 15 years and likes to be known as a lovepat.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I moved here with my then Dutch boyfriend.

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why?
A lovepat because I love the way it sounds. It always makes me laugh when I see or say it.

How long do you plan to stay?

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Yes, I speak Dutch rather well. I taught Spanish as a second language when I was in graduate school in the States so I know how to learn a language. When I first moved here, I was required to take an inburgeringscurssen that provided me with a solid basis. My Dutch improved by leaps and bounds when my oldest daughter went to school. Since none of her friends spoke English, I had to speak Dutch.

What’s your favourite Dutch food?

What do you miss about back home?
The International House of Pancakes, grocery shopping whenever I want, space, warm and sunny summers, hearing the American accent and of course space.

How Dutch have you become?
Well, at one point I had three bikes. One I kept at Utrecht Centraal for when I worked. One nice bike that I used to transport my daughter and my groceries and one ratty old bike for leaving at the train station. I play field hockey – even in the rain and I’m into soccer. I think that makes me pretty darned Dutch, don’t you think?

What’s your top tourist tip?
Pick a big city and take a canal tour. It’s the most beautiful and authentic way to see Holland.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about NL?
That the Dutch place such a high value on multilinguism.

If you had just 24 hours left in NL, what would you do?
Sit in my back yard and enjoy the flowers.

Carolyn Vines, 46, is a certified professional coach and the author of Black and (A)broad.