Wednesday 20 November 2019

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

‘I enjoy the diaries, they make everything so organised’

‘I enjoy the diaries, they make everything so organised’

Colombian native Elvira Mendoza met the man who would become her husband during a diplomatic project in Amsterdam. Now her six-year-old son is helping her learn Dutch, but she still has issues with Dutch coffee. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I grew up in Bogota and I studied political science and international relations at both Rosario University and Externado University. During my studies, there was an economic crisis and unemployment reached over 30%. There were hardly any... More >


‘The office is just a 10 minute cycle away, it’s priceless’

‘The office is just a 10 minute cycle away, it’s priceless’

Lior Bornshtain, 43, is an Israeli entrepreneur who moved to the Netherlands in 1998 with his dog and his wife. He has learnt to skate, speak Dutch, and eat Stamppot, and never visit a neighbour without an appointment. He loves the village way of life in Amsterdam and has no plans to return to Tel Aviv. How did you end up in the Netherlands? We decided that we wanted to move from Tel Aviv to Europe. It was me, my... More >


‘Until I lived here I wouldn’t look at cheese unless it was in a burger’

‘Until I lived here I wouldn’t look at cheese unless it was in a burger’

Vince Dinga, 27, arrived in Amsterdam from Romania four years ago in search of a purpose in life. After studying for a masters degree he stayed on and is now PR manager with award-winning tech conference organisers The Next Web. He explains why wayward tourists make him laugh and he can no longer stomach stroopwafels. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was a combination of the desire to start from scratch in a new place and wanting to have... More >


‘I always laugh because of the way the Dutch sing their goodbyes’

‘I always laugh because of the way the Dutch sing their goodbyes’

Originally from Canada, Savannah Grace has set her sights on becoming the youngest woman to visit every country on the planet. At the age of just 26 she has already ticked 111 off the list and written three books cataloguing her travels. After falling in love with a Dutchman while travelling in Africa, Savannah now lives in the Netherlands where she continues to travel and share her experiences abroad through her writing. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was on a round-the-world... More >


‘Love and kindness is what truly makes you feel at home’

‘Love and kindness is what truly makes you feel at home’

For Indian national Sabyasachi Sengupta, Amsterdam’s culture diversity and welcoming attitude makes it a city where dreams can come true. Sabyasachi, 30, is a banker for ABN Amro during the week and works as a professional trainer and speaker at weekends. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Following my dreams brought me to the Netherlands. I came here in 2010 on a scholarship to study for a Masters in Business Economics at the University of Amsterdam. After I... More >


My Dutch husband told me: ‘I married an American, please stay American!’

My Dutch husband told me: ‘I married an American, please stay American!’

Georgia Regnault-Smith came to the Netherlands for a year in 1965, met her husband in Amsterdam and ended up staying. She settled in The Hague, became a relocation consultant and has been active in the American Women’s Club of The Hague and the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) for 40 years. Her work with both organisations was recognised when she was recently made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was working for a... More >


‘My life here is totally agenda-based. If it’s not in the diary it doesn’t happen’

‘My life here is totally agenda-based. If it’s not in the diary it doesn’t happen’

Nitesh Saini first came to the Netherlands from India on business nine years ago. He works as a senior ICT manager in Amstelveen and in his spare time supports clazzez.com, a community-based website where talented individuals can showcase their skills in their local city or neighbourhood. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My previous employer wanted to open up business with a leading Dutch bank and I was asked to travel to the Netherlands for the company. In the few... More >


‘I think any city built on water has something magical about it’

‘I think any city built on water has something magical about it’

Satarupa Bose Roy, 37, is from India and has lived in the Netherlands for around 10 years. She is the founder of Indyana, a magazine for Indian nationals in the Netherlands, can’t ride a bike and would like to meet Ruud Gullit because her grandad is his biggest fan. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I accompanied my husband who had come over as a knowledge migrant. He is an IT consultant. He came over from Calcutta and... More >


‘I’ve lived all over the world and home is where the heart is’

‘I’ve lived all over the world and home is where the heart is’

Rhode Island native Scott Mongeau works in Amsterdam as a data scientist. His path to the Netherlands began on the other side of the world in the mid 1990s. He currently lives in Leiden with his wife and dog. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Through my wife. I met her while I was studying in Melbourne, Australia. That was in 1995. We were living in a house for international students and things progressed. We had to decide... More >


‘In the 80s I was embarrassed to be American, so I worked hard to become Dutch’

‘In the 80s I was embarrassed to be American, so I worked hard to become Dutch’

Joanne Schweitzer has lived in the Netherlands since 1986 and learned a lot of her Dutch while working in a lingerie shop. The 51-year-old former Oregonian is now a passenger assistant at Schiphol airport and would love to have met the early Dutch settlers in Manhattan. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met a Dutchman who was studying photography at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, way back in 1982. By January of 1986... More >


‘Dutch parenting suits me much better than the neurotic expectations back home’

‘Dutch parenting suits me much better than the neurotic expectations back home’

Originally from Edinburgh, printmaker and writer Catriona Black has been living in Santpoort-Noord for five years and says her children are now more Dutch than Scottish. She hates labels, but recent events in politics have inspired her to call herself an immigrant. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband landed a job at the University of Amsterdam teaching neurophilosophy. I was seriously unhappy about leaving Scotland, because everything I have ever been passionate about was Scottish, yet... More >


‘I speak Dutch with a foreign accent and English with a Dutch accent’

‘I speak Dutch with a foreign accent and English with a Dutch accent’

Cycling fanatic Bob Powers (70) arrived in Breda in 1972. He was only supposed to be visiting a friend but, apart from numerous international cycling tours, he’s been based there pretty much ever since. A cartoonist, illustrator, writer and translator, he recently retired as the oldest cycle courier in the Benelux – unofficially at least. How did you end up in The Netherlands? Like most things I do – by chance! I’d finished teacher training college in England but realised I... More >


‘How Dutch am I? You’ll never get me to love camping’

‘How Dutch am I? You’ll never get me to love camping’

British national Kerrie Finch, 46, has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She might be partial to herring but she’s not into Dutch stereotypes and would never, ever call herself an expat. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came for a three-month freelance contract in August 2000 to work with a PR company. I stayed in that role for one year, then one thing led to another, which led to another. I love travelling and do... More >


‘Amsterdam in the 80s had a gritty, open texture and a kindly tolerance’

‘Amsterdam in the 80s had a gritty, open texture and a kindly tolerance’

Julia Barnes, 59, is a musician (viola) and composer based in Zaandam. An American by birth, she’s lived in the Netherlands for 35 years and remembers the man who used to rollerblade around Amsterdam wearing just a thong. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here from London to take lessons from a particular viola teacher. As a student I thought I would be in Amsterdam for one year. I had no idea about the local artistic... More >


‘My first apartment had the toilet in the kitchen!’

‘My first apartment had the toilet in the kitchen!’

Professional field hockey player Justin Reid-Ross moved to Amsterdam in 2010. The 29-year-old South African, who played for his country at the 2012 Summer Olympics, can certainly tackle a big burger and score a decent G&T. He also has a passion for Chocomel. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was playing club hockey in Australia when I came in contact with the coach of a Dutch club called Pinoké, based in Amsterdam. I’d always wanted to play hockey... More >


‘I draw the line at sitting in the circle at my own birthday party’

‘I draw the line at sitting in the circle at my own birthday party’

Photographer Vinita Salomé was born in Japan to Indian parents and has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She lives in Gouda with her husband and nine-year-old son, would like to meet the members of rock bank BLØF and says she has lost the nuances associated with Asian cultures. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met my Dutch husband at a friend’s wedding in Bombay. He was a friend of the groom. I fell in love... More >


‘As much as I complain about Amsterdam, it is the best city I have lived in’

‘As much as I complain about Amsterdam, it is the best city I have lived in’

By day Nick Nugent is an account manager for ACD/Labs and by night he chairs the British Society of Amsterdam and hunts for decent curry. Nick has been in the Netherlands for 8.5 years and says he would never have had friends from so many different countries if he had stayed in Britain. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I have worked for a couple of Dutch companies, first Unilever and then Philips, which actually brought me here.... More >


‘On my first day at work I told my colleagues not to speak English to me’

‘On my first day at work I told my colleagues not to speak English to me’

New Zealander Jason Bruygoms has been living in the Netherlands for over 10 years, and is a leading light in Dutch rugby league. He learned Dutch by banning his colleagues from talking English to him, is a vanillevla addict and relishes Rotterdam’s melting point society. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My father is actually Dutch and when I was 27 a workmate of mine back in New Zealand told me I was eligible for a Dutch passport... More >


‘Don’t just stick to expat groups if you really want to enjoy living in Holland’

‘Don’t just stick to expat groups if you really want to enjoy living in Holland’

Haseeba Saban, 45, is a British national who lives in Rotterdam and works as a freelance marketing consultant. Her children are at Dutch schools, she would have liked to have discussed intolerance with Anne Frank and recommends everyone buys a museum card. How did you end up in the Netherlands? After returning to the UK from a 2-year work jolly in Dubai in 2010, we were hit by the recession and found that there were not many employment opportunities in... More >


‘It’s important to know what people are saying, it makes life richer’

‘It’s important to know what people are saying, it makes life richer’

Kenyan national Elizabeth Njeru, 39, came to Amsterdam in 2000 for love and now runs her own catering company. She is surprised by how willing successful people are in the Netherlands to help others, thoroughly enjoyed her Dutch lessons and is on a mission to make Kenyan food a household name. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Actually, I met a Dutch guy at the Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. He was an exchange student, that’s how he... More >