“I never planned to go and live in Amsterdam. However, after graduating 5 years ago I left Latvia and came to Amsterdam. My plan was to stay for a year, save some money, and eventually return to Latvia. This wasn’t as easy as I thought, and that’s how my Amsterdam story begins.
At the start I found living in Amsterdam pretty tough. You have to start from square one: find a home, build up your social life, and literally find your way around - which still remains my biggest challenge here. I also felt homesick. Nobody here speaks Latvian. The biggest barrier was the language; communicating with people. My English was average. I could easily understand it, but I found it hard to express my feelings in a foreign language.
After those first 5 years, I can finally say that Amsterdam has become my second home. I started studying Dutch this year, and my goal is to attain Level 1 in the state examinations. After a few years of struggling with the question “Do I stay or do I go?” I can finally say that I’m staying.
There are so many cultures and nationalities here. The city is extremely open and accommodating towards cultural and racial diversity. This city offers a home to every colour of the world. People accept each other just the way they are. Everybody is equal. I love that all these people bring something positive from their own countries, and that everything blends perfectly within this melting pot called Amsterdam.
One of my favourite places to be in Amsterdam is on the water. These past two summers I have discovered Amsterdam from the canals. It’s like an entirely different world. Water takes you everywhere. I can’t even explain what I mean. People are so extremely happy on the canals; they laugh, captains greet each other. I’ve never said hello to so many strangers in my life as I have during one boat trip.”
272 people in Amsterdam have the Latvian nationality.