This is
Mali James (1980)

Country of origin

In the Netherlands since

Artdirector en maakt pins (

Singapore in Amsterdam
The Hortus Bontanicius

Still would like to
Exhibit her art

First impression Amsterdam
Artistic, even at Schiphol Airport you can find art

“Amsterdam has given me everything I could ever wish for, and more. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made, but one of the best. I wasn’t happy in Singapore, because my life had already been mapped out. I was in my second year of medicine, which hadn’t been my choice but that of my parents and family members. I didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t happy. Then I met my ex - a Dutch boy - and went with him to the Netherlands. We lived in Almere at first, and when we split up in 2001 I moved to Amsterdam.

When I told my parents I wanted to go to Holland they tried to stop me. But I was stubborn and said, “I’m old enough to live my own life’. That was a big shock for them; they were used to my doing as I was told. In Singapore, living alone is not the done thing. You only move out when you marry. And if you never find a partner, there’s a big chance you’ll never move out of your parent’s home.

My mother has since accepted that I live here now. She can see I’m happy and that I can be myself here. I never became a doctor, but am now an art director. I enjoy my freedom in Amsterdam. It is very open-minded here. Sometimes you can call that laziness like ‘do what you want, as long as it doesn’t affect me’. In Singapore it’s the opposite. You follow the rules. I was a rebel. That kind of rebellion which Amsterdam is so famous for. So I really feel at home.”

233 people in Amsterdam have the Singapore nationality


Discover other stories