“Amsterdam Piet came to Romania as an exchange student in 1972. We both studied economics. There were 40 Dutch boys - no girls. Half of our group were Romanian, half were Dutch. Piet and I got to know each other, drank coffee and finally said our goodbyes. We continued to write to each other. In French. I didn’t speak English and definitely couldn’t speak Dutch.
When we decided to get married we had to ask permission from the Romanian government, because they were jittery when it came to economic migration. My family were poor and I received my funds via a scholarship. In 1975, Queen Juliana visited and thanks to the good vibes going round all cases were approved: Piet and I were given permission to marry. We got married in Romania; Piet knew enough Romanian to say “da” - the equivalent of “I do”. When he said it, the entire room fell into fits of laughter. We got married in August and three months later I was given permission to move to the Netherlands. Piet was born and raised in North Amsterdam, so from that point on we stayed in North Amsterdam.
I spent my first year home alone and absolutely hated it. I missed my family and friends in Romania and didn’t speak Dutch. Despite my Economics degree, I felt illiterate here. I thought I was going mad. I even had physical symptoms; dizzy spells and things like that. Only after I got a job did I begin to feel better.
What I didn’t expect was how women are treated here, a negative contrast to how women are treated in Romania. I’ll use the subject of mathematics as an example; in the Netherlands people assume that girls are less mathematically-minded than boys. In Romania, it is considered normal when girls get grades as high as boys. I had some real struggles teaching my daughters that equal opportunities for men and women are the norm. I also find it odd that subjects such as social sciences, philosophy and psychology are not taught in Dutch school’s curriculum. These subjects are essential for personal development.
Me and Amsterdam, that’s eternal love. You can travel the world, but you will always come back here. It’s sort of an identity, a place where you belong.
The most beautiful place is where I am right now - my home - with a view across my garden to the authentic dike houses.”
2.116 people in Amsterdam have the Romanian nationality