“I came to Utrecht in 2000 to study. I soon went with a group of friends to visit Amsterdam and the first place I went to was the Van Gogh museum. I will always remember my initial reaction. My father is an Impressionist painter and a huge fan of Van Gogh, which is why I wanted to see the museum. I kept the images of those paintings in my head for the next few days. They were so much more beautiful that the prints I had seen. Personally, I find this museum a place of peace inside the busy city of Amsterdam.
I started living in Amsterdam in 2011. I’d been in Amstelveen for five years, but that’s not Amsterdam. I had wanted to move, and as we had often been into Amsterdam and I knew it enough to appreciate it, I really wanted to live there. I have explored Amsterdam by bicycle and often get lost. I used to be scared of riding bikes here. It’s a busy city and I don’t know all the traffic rules. I have now become a proper Amsterdam cyclist: I pedal as fast as I can to overtake other cyclists, and often ignore the red lights.
I miss the tranquillity of Albania. Life goes by more slowly there, and I don’t feel I have to rush. You go for a coffee every days, to do just that - drink coffee. Not as part of an appointment, but just to any street café. In Albania, it’s like time stands still. It’s great, and doesn’t have to include anything else. Here, a coffee has to be combined with something else. Everything is exciting and you are always stimulated to do something fun. When I’m in Albania my family notice that I try to do ten things at once. The longer I stay in Albania, the less I feel the need to multi-task. Luckily.
Amsterdam feels like home. Completely. I’m happy when I come back here. I often sit on the bike and think, “Wow!” Like when I’m on the Berlage bridge. I’ll stop, because I have to absorb the moment. And take a picture. Sometimes I look at the photos I’ve taken and can feel exactly what I felt when I took them. Those are the photos I send to my sister back in Albania.”
182 people in Amsterdam have the Albanian nationality