Cuban national Claudia Moreira Calzadilla is 15 and has lived in the Netherlands for five years. She goes to a Dutch high school, has a part-time job in a hotel, and her parents say she thinks like a capitalist.
How did you end up in the Netherlands?
When I was five years old my mother moved to the Netherlands and started living with my stepfather. In Cuba, the process of moving to another country is quite difficult, so I wasn’t able to move to the Netherlands with her at that time. My biological father also didn’t allow me to go because he felt I was too young, so I had to wait until I turned 11 and got his permission before I could move here. By that time I couldn’t remember what it was like to live with my mother, so this was also new experience for me. My mother used to come to Cuba on holidays, but only for a week of two.
How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc?
I’m not quite sure if I’m going to live my whole life here in the Netherlands so I don’t think I can call myself an immigrant. I think international suits me better. I like the Netherlands but I want to travel and get in touch with other cultures. So if this means living in other countries, I will do that.
How long do you plan to stay and why?
Firstly, I want to finish school and then attend Leiden University and study law. I guess that after finishing my studies I will search for a stable job with the possibility of travelling. If I ever get the opportunity to work in another country I’ll do so immediately.
Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
Yes, I speak fluent Dutch but it’s not perfect yet. I went to a special school for foreign children called Taalklas, where they teach you the basics of the Dutch language. I think the only way to learn a language is being around the people who are native speakers. That’s why after about a year I started going to a Dutch school with local children.
What’s your favourite Dutch food and why?
I don’t have any. I eat it, but I really don’t like Dutch food. I am not sure why, although it might be because it’s totally different to Cuban food. To be honest I also don’t really like Cuban food either, so I don’t know what the reason is. If I had to choose one Dutch dish, it would be stewed pears (stoofpeertjes). I like how sweet and soft they taste.
What do you miss about back home and why?
Almost everything. My whole family and the friends I grew up live with there. I miss the beautiful, warm weather and the white-sand-and-blue-water beaches. I miss the people, even the ones I don’t know. Cuban people are so nice. I even miss school. So yeah, I miss almost everything. All that is and will always be a part of who I am, and I’m proud of that.
How Dutch have you become?
According to my parents I’ve become a real Dutch girl. They say I don’t think like a socialist any more but like a capitalist. I don’t know if I ever thought like a socialist but moving to the Netherlands has given me the opportunity to see how different my life in Cuba was.
What’s your top tourist tip?
Rotterdam! I’ve been there twice and I love it. There is so much to see and to do. You can spend hours walking around and you will see lots of interesting things. There is also a waterbus which I think is an amazing experience.
Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands.
A few days ago I saw a documentary about the fact that wifi was discovered here in the Netherlands. This really surprised me. I used to think wifi was invented in the United States.
If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
I would go to Walibi. I love amusement parks and Walibi is one of my favourites!