Elvira

Bosnia

This is
Elvira Osmanović (1978)

Country of origin 
Bosnia

In the Netherlands since

1994

Profession
Civil servant

Loves
Singing

First impression of Amsterdam
Village but at the same time a madhouse!

Would like to
Make an absurd cabaret show

“I knew about Amsterdam from my school text books, as well as a song of the same name written by a band from former Yugoslavia. The singer sang about Amsterdam; about cycling there, and his bike being stolen, and of course about joints. I came to Holland when I was 16 as a refugee. At the end of 1994 I joined my family at an asylum seekers centre in ‘s-Gravendeel and we moved on via Bloemendaal to Amsterdam. In May of 1995 we were offered a house.

My first memory of Amsterdam is the Leidseplein. I found it to be just right. Not as sprawling as London which I had visited before, just cosy chaos. We also saw a man roller-skating in a thong. I looked up at my mother, what would she say to that? She didn’t say a word. But her eyes were huge.

My second week at middle school I sat at the front shaking. I hardly spoke the language and found it all too much. The Dutch teacher, Mr. Vleesch Dubois, explained what metaphors were, and told us about a teacher whose teeth looked like a burnt out graveyard. He then asked who knew which book contained this metaphor. Coincidentally, I had just borrowed my first Dutch language book from the library. Ivoren Wachters by Simon Vestdijk. I recognised the sentence. When I gave the teacher the correct answer, he nearly fell off his stool before saying, “We’re going to get on fine!” The class must have thought, “What a nerd”.

I work in Zuid and live in Noord, and every time I cycle over the canals it’s incredibly beautiful. How amazing it is that I live here. The city is small, but so diverse. I still lose my way, and find myself absorbing the tranquil images as light shimmers on the canals in the middle of winter.”


114 people in Amsterdam have the Bosnian nationality

180Nationalities.TextByStorySupply

Discover other stories