“The first time I came to Amsterdam was with my Dutch boyfriend. We spent a day in Amsterdam; he lived in Almere at the time. He had worked in Poland for an American company and together with his colleagues they met up with my little sister in a museum where she gave tours. She befriended them and even brought them home on one occasion. So that’s how I met this Dutch boy in my parent’s home. I remember that we were coming out of Central Station. It was really crowded, with loads of brightly coloured billboards. You don’t have anything like that in Poland; no advertisements. And the bicycles! I took pictures of bicycles everywhere we went. I had never seen so many bicycles. Men in suits, ladies with heels...all riding bikes. Fascinating.
Holland is a nice country to work in; the ratio between management and staff similar and not as authoritarian as it is in Poland. Because of this, you dare to spread your wings that little bit more. Everything is possible if you work hard enough, and that’s what I did. In the beginning I had an inferiority complex; you come to Amsterdam and even though you can do everything and you’ve got a diploma, you’re still seen as nothing special. That’s why I wanted to learn the language as soon as I could, which went really well. Within six months I started at a company where I had to speak Dutch. It was very exciting and I made a few silly mistakes, like calling my supervisor who really liked eating sweets an ‘oude snoeperd’
We’d lived in Almere for a long time, but it was always my dream to live in Amsterdam. Six years ago we bought a house in Oud-Zuid and I’ve really fallen in love with the city and I want to stay here forever. Every day there is something to enjoy; the diversity, walking around the same place time and time again and discovering something new each and every time.
The first years in Amsterdam we went out a lot and got to know a lot of people in the neighbourhood. I also help people from Poland that come to live here. I’m pretty active socially and like to support others; give them a little push in the right direction. I am lucky. I have a nice job and a lovely husband. When I can help someone develop something with a small financial contribution, or share resources and experiences with others, I’m at my happiest. Being socially responsible is important, just like respect for the elderly is important. I also have good contact with my 80 year old Mokummer neighbour and I really love the connection we have.
I would like people in Amsterdam to pay more attention to their fellow citizens. Of course, people have busy lives, but just saying hi or taking care of the elderly, or helping someone with their groceries should happen more regularly. It’s not only cool, but fun. Go on, have a chat. You don’t have to drink coffee with someone, just enjoy a little small talk. Amsterdam has always been a social place, and that should never change.”
2.906 people in Amsterdam have the Polish nationality