“I fell in love with Amsterdam when I was just five years old. I grew up in a family with three kids and we visited Amsterdam twice together; the first time when I was five, then again when I was eight. Those childhood memories are very important to me. I remember staying at the Victoria Hotel and to his day, every time I walk past there, it still feels magical - the sound of the trams, the police and ambulance sirens. I couldn't sleep because of all the noise. I distinctly remember walking through Madame Tussaud’s and getting my first Liesbeth List tape.
I kind of ended up here by accident. I was doing an acting workshop in Antwerp and this guy - Moos - told me, ''You need to go to Amsterdam; they’ve got the perfect school for you!'' I remember thinking ''No way! My parents wouldn't let me and I wouldn't get accepted anyway''. When I got home I asked my dad and he told me he would drive me there. Ultimately, I got accepted and moved to Amsterdam.
My parents were pretty scared of drugs because of all the stories they had heard. I thought that was bullshit. One day I had to run to catch the tram. At the stop there was this Rasta-junkie smoking weed. He stopped the tram and held the door open for me. He embodied all the prejudices and ignorance people have about Amsterdam. I remember thinking ‘if a character like this is this nice to me, I’ll be fine here’.
I'm not a morning person at all, but the first six months I got up early every day. I couldn't believe my eyes; I really had to pinch myself. Here I was, riding my bike to school with a big grin on my face.
That love remains. I fall in love again and again, each and every day. If I get lost and don't know where to go, I just look for the Wester Tower and I thank it for showing me the way. That tower has a soul; it's not just a piece of concrete, it's a living entity. I like to get lost. Strolling around gives you an opportunity to see the real city. I would also recommend everyone take the tour boat every once in a while. The city is so incredible when viewed from the water! Sometimes I think, ''When will this love end?” If it does, I can move somewhere else. But this love never seems to end.
What I would like to tell the citizens of Amsterdam is not to be afraid, but to be generous. Give a little more. That's what I was taught at home. ''If you respect others, they will respect you”. I have been generously welcomed into the soul of Amsterdam, and should there ever come a time when I complain and stop being grateful, it will be time to go back home. Amsterdam gives so much. I have total freedom, and the creativity and spirituality it offers me is really cool. “
1.785 people in Amsterdam have the Belgian nationality