Wednesday 23 June 2021

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

‘The Dutch do not bow down to circumstance. Amsterdam is built on a swamp’

‘The Dutch do not bow down to circumstance. Amsterdam is built on a swamp’

Miguel Luis was born in the Philippines and lived in California before he made his way to Amsterdam to expand his career in film and entertainment. He’s the director of several short films and is the creator of So Cards, an innovative card game. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I never really expected to go to Amsterdam, but I’d always wanted to move to Europe at some point. In 2016, I sort of started plotting things out.... More >


‘My fiancée Geertje, she’s my favourite Dutch thing’

‘My fiancée Geertje, she’s my favourite Dutch thing’

James Munt grew up on the Isle of Wight and originally came to the Netherlands for a long weekend to buy a boat. Now 16 years later, he’s still here. He loves to surf on the North Sea, says hello to his neighbours, and would like to meet Lurch from the Addams Family. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was back when I was 23. How many years ago was that? It was 16 years ago now.... More >


‘The idea of black and white schools blew my mind’

‘The idea of black and white schools blew my mind’

Dutch-Pakistani Iffat Rose-Gill (40) is a gender equality activist and the founder of The Code to Change, an organisation improving women’s access to the digital economy. She is surprised by the ongoing integration issues here, but loves the Netherlands’ multiculturalism and the fact that even her local market stocks a taste of home. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved to Amsterdam in 2011 to join my husband, who was from the Netherlands. Due to my work... More >


‘I appreciate the way the Dutch remember those who died in WWII’

‘I appreciate the way the Dutch remember those who died in WWII’

Malcom Mason, 82, used to visit Amsterdam on leave from the RAF in the 1960s. Now living in Nunspeet, he retired this year as chairman of the Amsterdam branch of the Royal Air Force Association after 40 years involvement with the club. He learned Dutch from Linguaphone records, has adopted the scruffy Dutch way of dressing and says he would be gobsmacked if he was told he had to go back to Britain. How did you end up in the... More >


‘Umbrellas are pointless in the Netherlands. I’m a rain-suit type of girl’

‘Umbrellas are pointless in the Netherlands. I’m a rain-suit type of girl’

Sporty equal rights advocate Mérida Miller (32) swapped the US east coast for Amsterdam in 2017. She is the founder of Project Fearless, an after-school programme for girls that breaks stereotypes and builds confidence through activities such as boxing, skateboarding and artivism. She’s partial to a stroopwafel, but it has to be stale; and she loves tulips, but is suspicious of Keukenhof’s immaculate grounds. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was a little bit of love and... More >


‘I saw an old couple on a bicycle and I thought, ‘this is romantic, this is so Dutch’

‘I saw an old couple on a bicycle and I thought, ‘this is romantic, this is so Dutch’

Nanda Milbreta is originally from Riga in Latvia. After spending a summer working in Disneyland Paris, she relocated to the Netherlands. She works as a poet, illustrator, and musician, would like to meet saxophonist Candy Dulfer and would say farewell to the Netherlands with a 24 hour party. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here to study at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. When I came here I already had two Bachelor degrees,... More >


‘Van Gogh’s life was a tragedy. I’d like to go back in time and console him’

‘Van Gogh’s life was a tragedy. I’d like to go back in time and console him’

Originally from the United Kingdom, Steve White travelled all around the world and lived in Tokyo for several years before he eventually moved to the Netherlands with his family. He currently works as an artist in Almere and longs to spend an entire day visiting his favourite spots in Amsterdam after convincing all its tourists to go biking in the Dutch countryside. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met my future wife, who’s Dutch, in England back... More >


’The Dutch have the ability to tell you straight to your face what they want’

’The Dutch have the ability to tell you straight to your face what they want’

Businesswoman Shayonti Chatterji lived in Russia and Hungary before she moved to Amstelveen. Originally from Delhi, she is a fan of Dutch bluntness, Marco van Basten and coffee, and recommends you visit the little villages along the Amstel river for a different take on the Netherlands.  How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands in 2003. I came with my spouse after he was transferred here. I was happy to follow him and start a... More >


‘One day, I’ll have the courage to go to a naked spa’

‘One day, I’ll have the courage to go to a naked spa’

Mollynn Gift Mugisha-Otim (41) worked as a doctor in Uganda but relocated to the Netherlands in 2006 and is now a programme manager in the childcare sector and the author of two children’s books. A community builder and entrepreneur at heart, she is currently creating the Kids Cultural Centre, The Hague, which will offer culturally oriented services for parents and children with an African background. Mollynn loves the freedom in the Netherlands to dress casually and be whoever you want... More >


‘The Dutch take being ‘gezellig’ to Olympic standards, it is very comforting’

‘The Dutch take being ‘gezellig’ to Olympic standards, it is very comforting’

Weesp resident Dominic Seldis has just started his 12th season as a bass player with the Concertgebouw orchestra in Amsterdam. An English native, he has added to his musical career by becoming a Dutch television personality, and says the tikkie is the most terrible Dutch invention ever. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It is all down to Concertgebouworkest flautist Emily Beynon, who is Welsh, and used to play in my old orchestra in Cardiff. She told me... More >


‘I fell in love with the overall society — the organisation, biking culture, openness to change’

‘I fell in love with the overall society — the organisation, biking culture, openness to change’

Originally from the seaside town of Ayvalık in Turkey, Ozan Ozavci is an assistant professor of trans-imperial history at the University of Utrecht. He says he’s fallen in love with Dutch cycling culture and Old Amsterdam goat’s cheese and would relish the opportunity to discuss politics with Thierry Baudet. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I ended up here because I started a job as a post-doctoral research fellow on a project on security history at Utrecht University.... More >


‘The whole concept of layering clothing is surely something the Dutch invented’

‘The whole concept of layering clothing is surely something the Dutch invented’

Italian theatre maker and opera singer Carla Regina (51) performs all over the world but has made Amsterdam her base for the last 20 years. Though used to being the prima donna onstage, offstage she loves the Dutch refusal to make a melodrama over small things but does think they could dress up a bit more for special occasions. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here for two reasons. I finished my studies in at the... More >


‘By chance, I ended up in one of the most advanced and safest countries in the world’

‘By chance, I ended up in one of the most advanced and safest countries in the world’

Julia Skupchenko grew up in Russia and first came to the Netherlands to work for Shell. She now manages a non-profit, enjoys performing live music, and would like to one day meet queen Maxima. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Eight years ago, at an international conference in Norway where I was presenting my master’s research on oil and gas development in the Arctic, I was scouted by Shell to work on communications and third-party advocacy for their... More >


‘One thing that brings magic in my life is the time I spend in Limburg’

‘One thing that brings magic in my life is the time I spend in Limburg’

Miguel Angelo Rebello moved to the Netherlands from his native Portugal 11 years ago, to work for a French company which was building a power station in Lelystad. A keen cook, Miguel misses hot lunches and would like to meet queen Maxima, preferably in his shop in Amsterdam’s Jordaan. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was living in Lisbon and I wanted to do something different, outside Portugal, I wanted to experience something new. So I started... More >


‘Fresh flowers are so available and so cheap, you can have them all the time’

‘Fresh flowers are so available and so cheap, you can have them all the time’

Latvian-national Kristine Racina is the director of the Expatriate Archive Centre and moved to the Netherlands with her Dutch husband nearly 10 years ago. While she speaks Dutch and loves stroopwafels, she still cannot ride a bike.  How did you end up in the Netherlands? In 2005, I was working for the Ministry of Economics in Latvia and I traveled to China for an EU-Asia trade event. There, I met one of the members of the Dutch delegation, who would... More >


‘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 >