I know many immigrants in the Netherlands. Maybe because I am an immigrant myself I attract (and I am attracted to) other immigrants. People have many different reasons for which they choose to come and live here: family, work, study, asylum - you name it. But it’s when I talk to Dutch people I always have to answer the question on why and how I came to the Netherlands. This is quite annoying not only because I get this question way too often, but also because it feels like I don’t belong here, although I really wish I did. Often I also have to answer the question: “Do you like it here?” Somehow it reminds me of a question I often were asked when I was little: “Whom do you love more – mommy or daddy?” There is no simple answer to this, but how do you explain that?
Last Tuesday in Kiev I had a very refreshing conversation and surprisingly enough it was built on approximately the same questions. And this time I (of all people!) was the one asking them! I met a Dutchman who lives and works in Ukraine. I asked him why on Earth he swapped Netherlands for Ukraine. I don’t know how often he has to answer this question, but I really appreciated his energetic reaction. “Do you like people in the Netherlands? Are they nice? Are they cordial? Do you feel welcome in their homes? Do you like your life to be regulated by your agenda? Do you like the fact that there are rules for every little thing? There are so many rules, most of them are nonsense and irrelevant to the real life! They just won’t let you exist without regulating your life completely. In Ukraine you are free from that.” We didn’t have enough time to continue, but I really hope we can carry on next time I’m in Kiev. He gave me a view on life in Ukraine from a very different perspective helping me to fit yet another piece in my enormous life questions puzzle.
Tomorrow I will try to give you a visual update on my hair.