“I'm not an expat but a love-pat,” she laughs. “Like many foreigners, I am here because of love. I met my husband in 2019 in Colombo, the capital of my country. He ran an IT company there, and I worked in human resources for an IT department of the London Stock Exchange. We got to know each other just a year before he had to head back.”
“At first, we thought it would not be too serious. Our paths would part in December anyway. But we agreed to enjoy it while it lasted. In August of that year, he even took me with him to get to know the Netherlands. But then when we returned to Colombo, he suddenly proposed to me. Of course I said yes!”
“I moved during the pandemic with my 8-year-old dog, Maya. It was a difficult transition. There was already very little social life, but even on the street I didn't feel very welcome. In Sri Lanka, we greet and smile at the people we meet, even if they are strangers. Here people hardly do that. I now understand that this is a cultural difference, but I had to get used to it.”
“I now work as a freelance consultant. I do change management for companies. I have a few strong clients and work full weeks. People don't always like change, but once a process is complete, they often see the benefits. In addition to my job, I also love interior design. I'm still decorating our own house, like our living room here. And I like to play chess, but I always win against my husband. So we also play games where he can win, normally various card games,” she chuckles.
“Did you know that from the year 1640, Sri Lanka was a Dutch colony for a century and a half? The VOC had taken over the entire coastal area and traded in spices, elephants, and pearls. Today we still have a community of descendants of the Dutch. We call them 'Dutch burghers'. They have a lighter skin color and also eat differently. For example, they like meatballs, ‘fiadoe’ pie and ‘ijzerkoekjes’!”
“We also have Dutch words in our language, such as 'kamere' like ‘kamer’ in Dutch, which means 'room'. And on the south coast, we have a historic Dutch fort and streets called Leyn Baan or Bloemendhal. At the moment there is a lot of upheaval in my country again. I am concerned about the political situation, but also see it as a new opportunity to finally become a healthy democracy.”