Thursday 23 September 2021

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

‘When the sun comes out, even when it’s 0 degrees, everyone goes outside’

‘When the sun comes out, even when it’s 0 degrees, everyone goes outside’

Gary Brown grew up in a small town in Britain before relocating to London and eventually Amsterdam. He and his partner now run Tails of the City, a popular pet care service, he likes the way the Dutch dress casually and has never seen a fight here in seven years. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved here in June 2014. I was offered a promotion with my former employer. At the time, I had just come... More >


‘I remember every bit of fleeing Afghanistan. It never leaves you’

‘I remember every bit of fleeing Afghanistan. It never leaves you’

Niloufar Rahim (34), a general practitioner from Arnhem, fled her childhood home in Kabul in 1997 to escape the Taliban and seek asylum in the Netherlands. She is the chair of Dutch-Afghan organisation KEIHAN and an ambassador for IOM, Connecting Diaspora for Development. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I fled Afghanistan as a refugee with my parents when I was 10. We fled because of the Taliban regime. I remember every bit of it. It never leaves... More >


‘I would like to take one month off and just chill in Maastricht’

‘I would like to take one month off and just chill in Maastricht’

Evelyn A. Ankumah left her native Ghana for a cultural exchange programme in the Netherlands when she was a teenager. Now founding executive director of human rights group Africa Legal Aid (AFLA), she loves cheese and Maastricht and is working on a series of books based on her observations and experiences of discrimination, called Hague Girls. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I first came here when I was 17. I came on a cultural exchange programme called... More >


‘The Dutch have more freedom in how they speak with their mentor or boss’

‘The Dutch have more freedom in how they speak with their mentor or boss’

Gabriele Gobbi relocated from Rome to attend university in The Hague four years ago and is still here. He currently works as an intern at the Elemental Water Foundation, an organisation devoted to fighting water scarcity around the world. How did you end up in the Netherlands? After graduating from the Deutsche Schule Rom, the German School of Rome, I was searching for a political science bachelor’s programme and a city or an environment where I could grow academically and... More >


‘Here, I don’t have to bring my work home, and if I’m sick, I’m sick’

‘Here, I don’t have to bring my work home, and if I’m sick, I’m sick’

Courtney Schellekens works as both a project leader at the University of Groningen and as a freelance photographer who documents conflict and post-conflict environments. Originally from Boston, she loves the sensible work-life balance found in the Netherlands but Dutch nachos? Not so much. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I used to be married to a Dutch guy. We moved here from Boston when he got a job at the  University of Groningen back in 2009. I’ve been... More >


‘The Netherlands, this whole place is a big social experiment’

‘The Netherlands, this whole place is a big social experiment’

Alison Fisher is a Scottish-Canadian who moved to the Netherlands in the ‘90s to work as an editor. She lives in Amsterdam, loves the bike tunnel through the Rijksmuseum, and continues to work as both a translator and a life coach. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I planned when I left university to work my way all around the world. First, I’d look for a job, then I’d go to a country, live there for a few... More >


‘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 >