Saturday 24 October 2020

Members of the international community answer 10 key questions about their lives in the Netherlands

‘I can now hear the Monday alarm without fear’

‘I can now hear the Monday alarm without fear’

Rami Abusaleh (31) arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee in 2014, stateless and alone. He has since got married, become a Dutch national, and is beginning to heal from the trauma of living with conflict and oppression in his home country of Syria. A Master’s student in comparative literature at the University of Amsterdam, Rami dreams one day of having his own educational centre for cultural analysis. He is currently seeking work. How did you end up in the... More >


‘I was new here, and we saw 30 or 40 people on bicycles and they were naked’

‘I was new here, and we saw 30 or 40 people on bicycles and they were naked’

Miyuki Okuyama grew up in Yamagata, Japan and works as a professional photographer. Her latest exhibition, Foto-opdracht Nightfall, is currently underway in her new home town, at the Museum Arnhem. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to Holland to do an artist in residence and work on an exhibition. I’m still here. I met my husband, who is also an artist, in Arnhem. That was 18 or 19 years ago already. We got married later on,... More >


‘My final years in Holland have been most content. I hope for many more’

‘My final years in Holland have been most content. I hope for many more’

Leo’s mother is the only person who ever called him by Royston, his birth name. He’s a retired electronic technician who worked with international agencies including Nato and the European Space Agency over the course of his career. Originally from the UK, he currently lives with his family in Noordwijk. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I first came here with a small team of Brits to install digital satellite communications for Nato in their kazerne (base) in... More >


‘Eating herring is a public consumption experience, it’s a ritual’

‘Eating herring is a public consumption experience, it’s a ritual’

American native Matt Steinglass is The Economist’s Europe correspondent. He likes herring and a special breed of potato, but cannot get to grips with the Dutch fondness for group projects. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I’ve always had a thing for the Netherlands. I had a stopover here on my way back from Israel when I was 13 and the Netherlands seemed so advanced. I dated a Dutch-American girl when I was in college and we planned... More >


‘We need to redefine what Dutch culture is’

‘We need to redefine what Dutch culture is’

Born in New York but with Surinamese heritage, and now a Dutch citizen, cultural historian Jennifer Tosch (56) moved to the Netherlands eight years ago to explore her Dutch roots. She is the founder of the Black Heritage Tours in Amsterdam and co-founder of arts and culture foundation Sites of Memory. She is happiest surrounded by water, but insists that Dutch culture is so much more than canals and herring. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came... More >


’People don’t think of NL as a beach country but it has a huge beautiful coast’

’People don’t think of NL as a beach country but it has a huge beautiful coast’

You might have come across one of Ben Coates books, Why The Dutch Are Different or The Rhine. Or maybe you’ve come across one of his controversial opinions about bike helmets or Dutch work ethic on Twitter. The British international aid worker and the author has strong feelings about Dutch food, but he’s here to stay.  How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was backpacking through Central America and I met a lovely Dutch girl. I got her... More >


‘Take it easy and chill. That typifies my Amsterdam’

‘Take it easy and chill. That typifies my Amsterdam’

William Sutton spent his childhood in the United Kingdom before moving to Canada at age 16 and then finally to the Netherlands in the 1980s. He now lives in Amsterdam and is a long-time actor who loves the city’s old school cafes. His most recent project is COVID Criminals Amsterdam, an online comedy micro-series. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My eldest sister married a Dutchman when I was 12 years old. I visited at that age and... More >


‘I’m still not Dutch enough to eat herring’

‘I’m still not Dutch enough to eat herring’

Slovak Viktória Pikovská (24) came to Rotterdam in 2016 as an exchange student and is now CEO of art company Victory Art, helping fellow Eastern European artists find a market for their work in the Netherlands. She’s making good progress with the Dutch language but can’t ever see herself eating herring. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was a student in Prague studying at the Charles University, but at some point I felt like I needed more... More >


‘I also love the al fresco dining in country restaurants and hotels’

‘I also love the al fresco dining in country restaurants and hotels’

Elwyn Jones is a retired geography teacher from the UK who will be celebrating his 82nd birthday later this year. He currently lives in Heerlen with his partner, loves country restaurants, and would like to discuss politics with Mark Rutte.  How did you end up in the Netherlands? The town I left was Swansea, and that’s where I chose to live when I retired from my teaching post in London. It’s got the sea, it’s got hills, and it’s a... More >


‘I’m used to messy countries. Here, life feels very peaceful’

‘I’m used to messy countries. Here, life feels very peaceful’

Israeli-American creative director Einav Jacubovich (35) couldn’t ride a bike until 2017 when she moved to the Netherlands. She has since fallen in love with the relaxing way of life here and splits her time between Maastricht and Amsterdam, enjoying the contrast between the cultures of North and South. Alongside co-creator Billy Linker, Einav’s passion is devising clever creative projects such as #StandingDonation, an initiative to turn standing ovations into donations as people clapped for healthcare workers; and – more... More >


‘I came here from another country. I’m not a Dutch citizen, I’m an immigrant’

‘I came here from another country. I’m not a Dutch citizen, I’m an immigrant’

Though he spends his days working in IT, by evening Steven Morgan is a stand-up comedian, running his own comedy night in Nijmegen and a cast member of Amsterdam’s Easylaughs. A British citizen, he’s been to a lot of cities across the country but mostly at night, promising to himself return during the day, but never managing to do so. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was previously living in Australia with my ex, but being so... More >


‘Everyone I have taken to Delft has fallen in love with it’

‘Everyone I have taken to Delft has fallen in love with it’

David Dilling grew up in Andover, a town north of Boston in the US. He started life in the Netherlands picking tomatoes before joining a software firm. He now lives in Pijnacker and is an ADO Den Haag season ticket holder. How did you end up in the Netherlands? The short version of the story is that I was in a bar in Newport Beach, California where I’d recently moved from cold Boston. I told my new friends that I... More >


‘What has really kept me here is the work-life balance’

‘What has really kept me here is the work-life balance’

British national Nicolas Deskos grew up in Manchester and moved to Amsterdam to do a master’s degree seven years ago. He enjoys the city’s entrepreneurial spirit, is a Johan Cruijff fan, and thinks Dutch is a bit like a secret language. How did you end up in the Netherlands? While I was at a university in the UK, a lot of my friends were doing year abroad study programmes. I was amazed at how good of a time they were... More >


‘I live in the east and I’m endlessly surprised at Dutch people’s kindness’

‘I live in the east and I’m endlessly surprised at Dutch people’s kindness’

Larry Gardiner was born in London and first visited the Netherlands in 1972. He has been back many times since and currently describes himself as a ‘Brexit vluchteling’ (Brexit refugee). He finally left the UK and moved to Almelo with his partner in 2019. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My family has had a long relationship with the Netherlands and with Netherlanders. My youngest sister married a Dutchman. Her children and grandchildren have a central place in... More >


‘Biking helps you pack so much into one day’

‘Biking helps you pack so much into one day’

Mark Winstanley (56) came to Amsterdam from the northwest of England in 1997 as a fashion buyer, but now works as a freelance actor and director and is the artistic director of the Queen’s English Theatre Company. A love of bikes and water makes him the perfect match for the Netherlands, which he now considers his home. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to work for Footlocker, the American sportswear retailer, as a buyer at their... More >


‘I wish Van Gogh had come from my country’

‘I wish Van Gogh had come from my country’

Originally from the United Kingdom, Tim Butler moved to the Netherlands because he really liked the art. He thinks Dutch pastries are underrated and knows where you can find better Van Gogh’s than you can see in the Van Gogh museum. How did you end up in the Netherlands?  It was for Van Gogh that I came here originally. My entrance to Van Gogh was through The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, a collection of 903 which he either sent... More >


‘I’ve seen more rainbows in my time here than anywhere else’

‘I’ve seen more rainbows in my time here than anywhere else’

Daniel Loebl grew up in Peru and spent several years in the United States before he moved to Amsterdam with his family. He currently lives in Amstelveen, is working on his second novel, and would love to go get coffee with Rutger Bregman. How did you end up in the Netherlands? In 2016, I was living in Madison, Wisconsin with my family. I was offered a job opportunity at a company with offices in Amsterdam. It took me less than... More >


‘When dealing with Dutch colleagues, I had to be more direct or it wouldn’t work’

‘When dealing with Dutch colleagues, I had to be more direct or it wouldn’t work’

Most internationals come to the Netherlands to work, to study or to follow their love. Not Emi Collier. The Japanese native wanted to move to the Netherlands because she loves the culture’s directness.  How did you end up in the Netherlands?  I moved here with my family in July 2019. I am from Japan and the Dutch and the Japanese have a friendship treaty that allows Japanese people to get a residency permit if they have a small business. I... More >


‘There’s a sense of energy in Amsterdam you don’t really get in many other places’

‘There’s a sense of energy in Amsterdam you don’t really get in many other places’

Héloïse Hooton grew up in a French and English household in Carlisle near the Scottish border. She now lives in the Netherlands, owns a PR consultancy firm, and co-directs the event series 5×15 Amsterdam. How did you end up in the Netherlands I was living in Paris in 2010 but, despite being half French and bilingual, I didn’t quite gel with the Parisians or the Parisian way of life. It’s a pretty traditional and formal lifestyle. I missed the openness... More >


‘The Dutch are some of the most travelled people on the planet’

‘The Dutch are some of the most travelled people on the planet’

Artist Jimmy Nelson (52), originally from the UK, is best known for his photographs of indigenous people. His work has taken him to many unexplored corners of the earth, but Amsterdam is home to him and all three of his passports are Dutch. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met my [Dutch] ex-wife in Greece when I was 23. We had a two-day fling then I had a two-year assignment in China to photograph a book. She... More >