“Saint Vincent is a tropical island and when I tell people that I come from there they always say, “What are you doing here, then?”. I came here by coincidence. When we were still living on Saint Vincent, my mother lived on Curacao. In order to support her family of seven she worked for a Dutch family there. This family returned to the Netherlands and wanted my mother to accompany them. But my mother thought Holland looked much too cold and said no. I said, for a joke, that I would go. And before I knew it all the paperwork was done and I was living as an au pair in Amsterdam. That was more than thirty years ago and I don’t know if I will ever go back there to live. I had both of my children in Amsterdam and it’s a wonderful city. In Saint Vincent you have the beautiful climate and nature, as well as a relaxing way of life which many people fine attractive. But Amsterdam has, among other things, a great public transport system. Wherever you want to go, it will take you there. You don’t need a car or even to think, “Who can take me?”. Because of this you are much more free than you are on an island. Even the schooling is better here. There is a lot more choice. Which can also be a negative thing. Children tend to study something they enjoy, and if after a couple of years they stop enjoying it they pick another subject to study. On Saint Vincent you finish what you start. And children listen to the advice their parents give them.
Hollanders are very focussed on their holidays. If there’s a holiday, you have to go on holiday. And there are lots of holidays throughout the year: Christmas, half term, holidays in May and summer holiday. And each time they ask themselves, “What are we going to do during the holidays?” I think that you need to integrate when you live in another country, so we also go on holiday a lot. So that my kids, when asked where they went for the holidays, are able to give an answer. So when they’re back at school after the holidays they can say, “Spain” or “to Turkey”.
Every three years I go back to Saint Vincent. My family hardly visits me here. My mother came once but didn’t think much of it. Much too cold. And this was in the summer. If someone does come over, I take them to the museum. On Saint Vincent they only have the one museum. I would take my family to a museum they could never have imagined existed. Like Madame Tussauds. And of course, we would go shopping. At the market. I don’t like stores and changing rooms. I much prefer to be outside.”
2 people in Amsterdam have the Saint Vincentian nationality