Having been born and raised in India, at the age of twenty four Simmer Madan choose to study and work in London. There she met her husband, and started combining life in London with a job in Denmark. However, for three years now she has been living in The Netherlands, “we stay here and nowhere else,” she tells me.
For the first time in nine years, she went back to London this September. “I was shocked! It was so much more crowded. People kept pouring out of the underground. In London, it took me twenty minutes to get from work to the underground. Here I am home in twenty minutes.”
Simmer can hardly find anything negative to say about living in The Netherlands. Apart from “the language, that’s hard. What does help is reading product advertisements and ads about houses-for-sale in newspapers. That way, you learn ordinary words. I shop at Bol.com, so now I know what douchegel is.”
She gained a lot from the government’s integration course, which she had to take because of her marriage to a naturalized Dutchman. “As a result, when I started to use public transport, I knew how to use the OV-chip card. As well as that you learn how to shop at Albert Heijn, very convenient.”
In Simmer’s experience, the UK promotes a somewhat hierarchical relationship between people, while people in The Netherlands are more open-minded. “It is easier to approach people here, plus the fact that people think in terms of solutions.”
After completing a BA in Psychology, she studied an MBA in Business and Finance. She now works as a project manager with a company in financial services in the Atrium building at Zuidas.
“The Zuidas neighbourhood is just a marvellous work environment. People are friendly, and people often know each other, which offers lots of opportunities. The atmosphere is super-competitive however, there are more people than jobs. It is booming.”
Life is very relaxed in Amstelveen, where Simmer lives with her husband. “We wanted a house with a garden, but that did not work out in Amsterdam. And very important: we needed a room that both my parents and parents-in-law from India could stay in when they visit us. Furthermore, we are only 12 minutes from Schiphol Airport, there are many restaurants around us, and we have our friends nearby. So, we are not going to live anywhere else than here.”