Interview with an expat

Patty (mother) and Brenda (daughter)

Where do you come from and where do you live in the Netherlands?
We come from Lima, Perú. It is the second time that we have moved to the Netherlands. We lived here in Noordwijk before, between 2007 – 2011, a very beautiful and quiet town. Our impression is like we’re living in another century, because we are surrounded by ancient houses with similar architecture, with all the houses, one after another, having the same colour.

What’s your job/business?
I am a journalist/anthropologist and have been working in Lima as a teacher, until recently mainly providing support to students who wish to carry out their thesis or research plan. Also, I had some consultancies in cooperative communication with public organizations.Brenda finished her secondary studies last year. Now she is preparing to study in the Netherlands for a career related to technology. She enjoys playing Fortnite and is fond of computers.

What was your first time in the Netherlands?
It was in 1998, when I came as a student. I won a scholarship in Peru to study International Relations and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies-Erasmus in The Hague. It was really an exciting time to get know so many colleagues from different countries. Also, the studies enriched my knowledge and skills in social, political and environmental issues, which I was able to put into practice in Peru.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands?
It’s a difficult question! What I like the most about the Netherlands is the safety in the streets, the orderly order and respect for cyclists, pedestrians and the elderly. I also like the right to education, which is provided to all without distinction of race or culture. Of course, the variety of cheeses and the landscapes with lots of tulips, especially from April to May.

What’s the worst thing about the Netherlands?
Nowadays, I think with the corona, many things and attitudes have changed in this country. For example, the Dutch were used to speak so loud, especially in trains. Now, few people travel on the trains. Dutch don’t like to wait or stand in queues, but now you can see them to enter shops, making a queue. The weather is something I else I don’t like, because we come from a city where it hardly rains. Lima is in a coastal desert and we are not used to walking or cycling in the rain. I’m afraid of the rain because I can get sick and I don’t want to. And if you don’t watch the weather news, you can have problems with sudden rain and wind.

Do you have Dutch friends?
Yes, we do. I keep in touch with the marketing and communications manager of ISS, a great friend. And my neighbours are very nice, always looking out for us. I also keep in touch with Peruvians married to Dutch people, who are really Dutch now. In Lima, I was the representative of the Alumni Peru-Netherlands, an organization that brings together Peruvian professionals who have studied in the Netherlands. Now it’s part of Alumni.NL.

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?|
I like about Dutch people that they are direct in saying what they think. And they respect the rights of other people.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
In Noordwijk there are plenty of places to go to lunch or dinner. I like De Blauwe Gans and Hans en Grietje. But with corona you can’t eat in restaurants now, only delivery. For something special, there are some Peruvian restaurants in Amsterdam and The Hague.

Where do you prefer to relax in your city?
In Noordwijk, there are several places to visit. I prefer to walk around and take photos of houses and flowers.

What’s your favourite Dutch store?
A store where you can find everything you need and more for is the Bijenkorf in The Hague. This store always surprises me, because it has several collections of novelty clothes and articles for the house.

What do you like to do on the weekend?
I like to visit other cities in the Netherlands. Or, now that you can go inside shops, visit a kringloopwinkel or second-hand shop.

Who is your favourite Dutch person?
Definitely Vincent van Gogh. I remember when I was a child I painted the Sunflowers and the Starry Night that I saw in some paintings of my mother. She told me about the life of this Dutch painter; I could not imagine that years later I would come here to this country to see his paintings in the museum that has his name. I remember I painted The Room in one of my art classes in school and it turned out quite well.

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city in the Netherlands?
To keep his/her eyes wide open, because every street, corner or store has something to show. I would also recommend you to try typical dishes, such as French fries and krentenbollen (soft bread with raisins), which taste very good.

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
The Dutch cuisine is very simple. I have tried different dishes and the most I like is hutspot which is made with potato, carrot, onion and meat. It’s often eaten in winter. Erwtensoep makes me remember a dish from my country, therefore I like it. If we can call the pancakes a favorite Dutch food, I include that dish as well. The dish that I like the least is the one with cabbage and endive (andijvie).

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? What is your favourite?
Of course King’s Day. My first time was in 1998 when I studied here, it was awesome. Years later, in Lima we celebrated this special date at the ambassador’s house with traditional food such as haring, cheeses and gin. Many people also like to participate in the Dutch cycling event!

Where do you like to go out?
At the moment, we are still establishing ourselves. For that reason we don’t go out too much. And because the corona we must take care of ourselves and keep our distance, we we prefer to stay at home.

What famous Dutch place should you really go and see?
I would like to visit the polders, the land recovered by the Dutch from the North Sea using a technique which was used for the first time in the 12th century. The Dutch are masters in conquering and recovering lands from the sea and turn it into productive agriculture.

Best kept secret in your city?
I recommend visiting the ESA Estec, the European Space Agency, where you can see the work they do in developing the technical innovation in space. Here, many projects are born that later are part of science, exploration, telecommunications, human spaceflight and so on.

Interview by Marla Thomson