Sunday 29 March 2020

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

‘Sitting in a circle at Dutch parties makes it hard to start talking’

‘Sitting in a circle at Dutch parties makes it hard to start talking’

Rick Lightstone is PR director at the ABC bookstore in Amsterdam and has been in the Netherlands for 28 years. If he had to leave, he would cycle down the Amstel into the sunset. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met my wife on a kibbutz in Israel. She is Dutch and wanted to live in Holland. We were in Vancouver for a few years and after moving back and forth a bit, we ended up here.... More >


‘The Dutch underestimate their impact on the world’

‘The Dutch underestimate their impact on the world’

American Claire Taylor came to Amsterdam almost 30 years ago and now has dual Dutch nationality. A fan of smoked eel sandwiches, she is most proud of her allotment where she grows vegetables. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Love. We met in Queens, New York, and it was pretty much love at first hug. I’d already lived in Sweden and Italy, and I wondered about Amsterdam… so when I visited him, I also went to see if... More >


‘Amsterdam is fantastic for kids, there is a strong family culture’

‘Amsterdam is fantastic for kids, there is a strong family culture’

Amsterdam Mamas founder Emmy McCarthy, 39, is British and surprised by how family-orientated the Netherlands is. For example Amsterdam, she says, has over 400 playgrounds. How did you end up in the Netherlands? True story: my husband accepted a job at head office, and then told me it was head office Amsterdam, not London where we lived at the time. We shuttled between the two countries for a while before settling in Amsterdam after the birth of our son. How... More >


‘I am trying to define the notion of feeling at home’

‘I am trying to define the notion of feeling at home’

Film maker Leonardo Cariglino has Italian nationality, was born in Germany and has a Greek mother. He came to the Netherlands 10 years ago and won’t tell us the name of his favourite bar in case we all go there too. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands for the most pragmatic reasons. As the eldest son of an Italian-Greek household, I was very busy. Too busy to manage my parents business. I didn’t... More >


‘I asked if I could pin when paying the bill in an American restaurant’

‘I asked if I could pin when paying the bill in an American restaurant’

American Chris Osman, 31, has been in the Netherlands for four years and is surprised by how different all the 12 Dutch provinces are, given the size of the country. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was finishing a teaching gig in Hong Kong and visited a friend in Maastricht on my way home. I focused on finding a job first in Europe before returning home and received a promising lead that ended up not working out.... More >


‘I knew when I saw this beautiful girl I was going to marry her’

‘I knew when I saw this beautiful girl I was going to marry her’

Lorenzo Serna, 58, is an American who fell in love in Amsterdam and never left the Netherlands. He lives in Soest and owns and operates a Mexican food truck, Amigo’s Cantina. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It’s the classic story of an American GI marrying a local girl. I was on leave from the Army and while visiting Amsterdam I took a tour of a diamond factory. In walks the tour guide and it’s love at first... More >


‘A Dutch house must have two doors between living room and WC’

‘A Dutch house must have two doors between living room and WC’

Colleen Reichrath-Smith, 48, met her Dutch husband while skiing in her home country of Canada and now uses speculaas spices to make pumpkin pie. She has been in the Netherlands for nine years and lives in Zoetermeer. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was love. I went backcountry skiing in Canada in March 2005 and my group of friends ended up sharing the alpine ski hut with a group of Dutch skiers for one night. I taught... More >


‘I make my own pea soup and I’ve gotten pretty good at it’

‘I make my own pea soup and I’ve gotten pretty good at it’

American John Mahnen is a sports marketeer, a Eurosport commentator and helps out at the Dutch-American football association. He has been in the Netherlands half his life. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I originally came here for graduate school. I received a master’s degree in International Business Administration from Nyenrode. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc – and why? That’s a really difficult question! I suppose I fit the immigrant model... More >


‘Pancakes are great fast food when you have no time to cook’

‘Pancakes are great fast food when you have no time to cook’

Interior designer Aileen Martinia is 35 and comes from Indonesia. She’s been in the Netherlands for 14 years and dreams of retiring to a beach on Bali. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Young, innocent love. In the end, the relationship did not work, but I love it so much living here, I stayed. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc – and why? A bit of everything; it is all about the... More >


‘I now like brown shoes with a dark suit more than I should’

‘I now like brown shoes with a dark suit more than I should’

Benjamin Arthur, 42, is a British corporate and wedding photographer who has lived in the Netherlands for 3.5 years. He and his familiy will soon move into their own house in Amstelveen. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My wife was offered a job to work for a boutique executive search firm specialising in filling marketing positions. At the time we both thought Amsterdam would be a great adventure. Happily, we weren’t wrong and now we can’t imagine... More >


‘I get annoyed when I’m cycling behind a slow tourist’

‘I get annoyed when I’m cycling behind a slow tourist’

Christina Caljé is chief operating officer at online sharing platform Peerby. An American by birth, she describes herself as an expat, a lovepat and an international. How did you end up in the Netherlands? A chance meeting with a charismatic entrepreneur at a pitch event in San Francisco brought me to Peerby, which brought me to the Netherlands. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc – and why? Can you be more than one of... More >


‘How Dutch have I become? I ride my bike everywhere’

‘How Dutch have I become? I ride my bike everywhere’

Sofia Saxlund, 24, is from Uruguay and works as a design intern. She lives in Zaandam and has been in the Netherlands since April. How did you end up in the Netherlands? We did a trip around Europe with many of my friends from Uruguay. We were 28 friends travelling together, taking up almost entire buses and train carriages. I knew right from the start I was going to stay here as soon as the trip was over. I wasn’t... More >


‘I think the Scots and the Dutch are pretty close to each other’

‘I think the Scots and the Dutch are pretty close to each other’

Charlie MacGregor, 38, is Scottish and came to the Netherlands 11 years ago. He is the founder and CEO of The Student Hotel group. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved from London to Amsterdam after coming here for lunch with my girlfriend. We both fell in love with the city within 20 minutes. Six weeks later we moved here together. I rented an amazing flat on the Singel from a local guy who had a really... More >


‘When you get on a bus, the driver says hello’

‘When you get on a bus, the driver says hello’

Kristina Wilms is 27 and from Germany. She came to Amsterdam after winning a European competition to devise a start-up – which she now leads. How did you end up in the Netherlands? The whole story began in October 2013 when I won a ticket for the BeNeLux StartupBus. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but the StartupBus is a competition involving five buses travelling through Europe loaded with techies who compete against each other to devise... More >


‘I do enjoy a good herring – with uitjes’

‘I do enjoy a good herring – with uitjes’

Deborah Valentine works for herself as a project manager and copywriter and is current executive director of ACCESS. She has been in the Netherlands, this time round, for 10.5 years. We ask her the 10 traditional questions about her Dutch life. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met and married a Dutch diplomat when I was in Brazil with UNICEF. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why? I am... More >


‘I miss rolling hills and rock formations’

‘I miss rolling hills and rock formations’

We put 10 questions to Lucie Cunningham, a French national who lives in Delft and describes herself as a ‘social activist’. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband accepted a position as a then assistant professor at TBM at TU Delft eleven years ago. We moved from Silicon Valley in California. We lived in Atlanta, GA and Brighton, England prior to this. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why?... More >


‘Walking along Amsterdam’s canals can be an amazing experience’

‘Walking along Amsterdam’s canals can be an amazing experience’

Entrepreneur Melinda Jacobs, 28, is an American who studied digital gaming in Utrecht and now runs two start-ups. We ask her 10 questions about her life in the Netherlands.   How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands in 2008 to follow a two-year research MA at Utrecht University studying digital games. I did a summer abroad in Germany during my BA and afterward took the time to visit the Netherlands and Sweden. Following my... More >


‘I’ve loved bacon and cheese pancakes since day one’

‘I’ve loved bacon and cheese pancakes since day one’

British accountant Stephen Huyton has lived in the Netherlands for 20 years and is former chairman of Britsoc, the British Society of Amsterdam. We ask him 10 questions about his life in the Netherlands. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was invited to be the first finance director of the company – Thermopatch, where I still work. The goal was to prepare it for a stock market launch in London or New York, or a sale to... More >


‘I eat pea soup all year round when I want comfort food’

‘I eat pea soup all year round when I want comfort food’

Photo journalist Shirley Agudo has lived in the Netherlands for 15 years and says she fits in very well with the more laidback way of life. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came to the Netherlands from the US in 1993 with my former husband and our two daughters, on the basis of my husband’s job transfer to an American-owned fiberglass company in Hoogezand, in the north of Holland. We lived for five years in a beautiful... More >


‘Dutch diaries can be a tool but also an excuse’

‘Dutch diaries can be a tool but also an excuse’

Spanish businessman Rogelio Vargas has been in the Netherlands for seven years and plans to stay here indefinitely. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Due to a job with a French multinational, Orange, which belonged to the France Telecom Group. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why? Internationally-minded person who has been living in several countries: USA, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands. Right now I live in the Netherlands, but... More >