“I’ve been studying for my master’s this past year in Amsterdam, which wasn’t actually my first choice of places to study. I thought I would be going to Germany, but was offered a place in Amsterdam. When I arrived in Schiphol, I had a strange feeling. A feeling which made me feel I’d arrived home. What was really weird, was that I’d never planned or dreamed that this place would mean anything to me. It’s crazy that I feel more at home here than in my homeland, as my people are there. I had always been interested in things that made people comment, ‘What a Western thing to want to do’. For example, I loved outdoor and extreme sports. No-one in Lesotho could understand why I would want to hike in the mountains for three days at a time.
I live in Zuidoost. At first, I was disappointed because it doesn’t really feel like Amsterdam. It could be anywhere. Now I love the Zuidoost district; I’ve grown into it. I love public transport here. Everything runs according to schedule. In Lesotho it’s very different. You only have taxi’s. You need a lot of luck to arrive somewhere on time. Everything’s so well organised here.
My brother and I were raised by our mother. We lived in a large house where my mother’s sister also lived with her own children and even more cousins. I learnt to live surrounded by hustle and bustle. I like my own space. Even here in Amsterdam. I love to walk around the Gaasperplas; it makes me feel happy.
I’ve heard that people here can be very direct, but even more importantly, they are honest. Everyone is treated and judged in the same way which is vastly different from the attitudes you find in Lesotho. There, people are treated according to what they have and not who they are. Got money? Push in front of the queue. Here I feel free to be who I want to be. It feels right and therefore feels like home, which is what I felt when landing in Schiphol a year ago.”
7 people in Amsterdam have the Basotho nationality.