“I was sixteen when my mother and sister went to Amsterdam on a holiday. I didn’t want to go. I was a teenager and had better things to do. Or so I thought. They came back full of enthusiasm and so I realised that Amsterdam must be a special place. In the former Czechoslovakia we had a student exchange programme. Reaching my twenty first year meant I had one last chance to go to the Netherlands, and so I decided to go to Baarn for three weeks.
A daytrip brought me to Amsterdam, where we were shown around through the tiny streets and courtyards of the Jordaan. It really impressed me. It was so different from Prague. Amsterdam is a city on a small scale, but at the same time it’s big. And the people really do seem to enjoy life. When I heard from a friend that there was a job in Amsterdam advertised with the company I worked for I immediately applied and got the job. I went to live in the Prinsenstraat in the centre of Jordaan. Then I really started to enjoy myself.
After a few months I met my Irish boyfriend and we decided to remain here. We’ve now lived here for thirteen years. My family and friends come regularly to visit, as Amsterdam seems to attract them just as much as it did me. I get that. It’s small, tranquil and still a capital city. Culture oozes from every corner and it’s clean and well maintained. My guests think it’s great to act like Amsterdammers and hop onto a bike.
My eight year old daughter also sees herself as an Amsterdammer. She goes to a Dutch school and has Dutch friends. At home I speak Czech and my husband English to her. I think Amsterdam is very child-friendly. You can do anything by bike; everything is close by and there’s a great school and childcare system. What is most different from home is that I can work part time here. This means I can spend a lot of time with my daughter, especially during the most important milestones of her life. I think this is so important. I’m still finding Dutch a difficult language to learn. I can speak a little, and at my daughter’s school they appreciate it when I try. Otherwise, I don’t really need to learn it.”
5 people in Amsterdam have the Former Czechoslovakian nationality