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Viviane, Dzidra, Charles, José and Sandra, all featured in the book Tutti frutti, have one thing in common – they all fell in love with a Dutch woman or man. So much so that they decided to leave home and hearth behind to build a new life in the Netherlands with their beloved.

So one arrives – with qualifications that aren’t valid – in a country with an unknown language and culture. And for animals of habit – which we are – this means there’s work to be done. Learning a new language and culture takes time and effort, as does getting used to a life and a country in which everything is different. Regardless of how well you prepare, it’s a process that has its ups and downs. And forget just popping in on family and friends – it’s simply no longer possible. In fact, your partner is the only support you have, certainly in the beginning. Love overcomes all obstacles, fortunately:

  • “My tall, Dutch man is so handsome (and has no chest hair – unlike Latin men)! And he respects his woman. It was love at first sight, 26 years ago.” – Viviane, from Brazil
  • “At last. Someone who does what he says. It’s great!” – Dzidra, from Latvia
  • “She’s so beautiful, she’s humorous and she can sing beautifully. I’m still in love with my wife, Herma.” – Charles, from the USA
  • “My West-Frieslander is so opinionated and was so self-confident in our first conversations – a typically Dutch woman with long, beautiful legs. I have remained in love with her to the present day.” – José, from Argentina
  • “How can you not fall in love with a man who takes you to Paris on your second date? He’s one of a kind.” – Sandra, from Poland
  • “He’s so positive and romantic – but he’ll also empty the dishwasher when necessary.” – Maria, from Bulgaria (online continuation of Tutti frutti)

World citizens
It seems to take years before the country that you emigrate to feels like a second home.  And that’s also relative, as the process of change means that you are also not what you were when you moved. You can’t just take things for granted in your new country. The positive aspect, on the other hand, is that you can reconsider what you really want – precisely because you’re making a new start. There are aspects of your life you can work on, that you can influence. These citizens of the world chose the path of entrepreneurship – sometimes via many detours – for good reasons. And they have all, consciously or unconsciously, taken aspects of their home country and culture with them:

  • Viviane set up her own gym and dance school and introduced the
    South American Axe and Zumba.
  • Dzidra was able to realise her dream here – of becoming a photographer and web designer – which would not have been possible in Latvia.
  • Charles discovered the strength of his networking method in the Netherlands, becoming the first, professional ‘NetworKing’ and registering the name as his trademark.
  • José focused on the biological wine that he produces in his country of birth, Argentina, and which he now sells in the Netherlands and Europe.
  • Sandra missed her Polish delicacies during her pregnancy and set up
    five Polish supermarkets in the Netherlands.
  • In addition to being a journalist, Maria became a writer and has written books about communism and other subjects.

Two worlds

Emigrating to another country means that you find yourself between two worlds. This is complicated, but also enriching. The trick is to take the best from both cultures. Which is what these entrepreneurs have done … with thanks to the love that knows no borders!

Happy Valentine!

About Saskia Maarse

Saskia Maarse is an intercultural speaker, trainer and author. She writes and speaks about Dutch culture in both business / professional and social life. In her blogs, books and professional talks and workshops she uncovers the origins of deep-rooted Dutch characteristics. Saskia also explains what we can learn from and about other cultures – in areas like communication, leadership and human behaviour.

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