“I came to Amsterdam in 2009. My husband lived here as an expat and after we married I came here to live. Before this, I had never been to Amsterdam. I had already formed a picture of the city in my head, but wanted to discover and experience it for myself, so didn’t take too much note of what others told me about it. It was the end of April when I arrived and what I remember most is that it was very cold. In Tajikistan we have seven months of summer and it gets lovely and warm. Here I need to wrap myself up in lots of layers.
What I also noticed was how people on the street smile at you and say hello. At first, I would look behind me to double check to be sure it was me they were smiling at, but people here are just really friendly. In my land such a greeting always has a meaning. That person has some secret agenda. I like this habit of greeting strangers and now I’m the first one to say, “Hoi!”. I also have a great respect for those mothers who carry three children on one bike. I don’t dare to ride a bike. How do they do it?
Giving birth is also very different here. In Tajikistan you go to hospital a few days before the birth and leave at least a week later. Here - if everything goes well - you can be out of the hospital in three hours. And you wouldn’t be able to choose a home birth where I’m from. You only come across those in the countryside and don’t have time to get to the hospital. I think it’s great that you can do that here, but am happy that I had both of mine in hospital.
Amsterdam has changed me. Not only do I eat sandwiches for lunch - which they would find very strange in Tajikistan as they always have a warm meal - but it has also taught me to be patient. For example, when learning the language. I would almost burst into tears some evenings, but finally I learned to be patient. You also don’t need to protect yourself from harsh comments in Amsterdam. In Tajikistan you are always on edge because of the harsh comments and humiliating remarks made by people such as your boss.
The path through the Amsterdam forest gives me a feeling of safety and romance. If I get the chance to take that route, I go there. It’s beautifully green, a little dark. I feel at home, but not at all as if I am in Tajikistan.”
7 people in Amsterdam have the Tajikistani nationality.