It has been 10 months since I moved from Russia to the Netherlands. I am originally from Vladivostok, but more recently I lived in Saint-Petersburg. This is my second time living abroad: at the age of 20, I spent a year in the USA.

I would say that here in Voorburg, near the Hague, I feel at home and I’m certainly not homesick, although there are some cultural differences compared with my home country, such as the directness of the Dutch. Then there is their time-keeping and the custom that you should always arrive 15 minutes early because Dutch people like “gezellig te kletsen” (a cosy chat) before the meeting starts! But this shows just that they are very open-minded and sociable with different nationalities, and everyone is equal, which I like.

I think speaking the language is an important part of feeling at home in the Hague: I studied Dutch in Saint-Petersburg and sometimes I have feeling that I have been living in the Netherlands for many years.

When I can, I love to travel: this year I have been to the Arab Emirates, Germany , Belgium , the Czech Republic and Russia, of course! Here in The Hague, I enjoy sports activities such as yoga, swimming and dancing. In summer, I love cycling from Voorburg to Scheveningen. I certainly feel at home and I have stumbled upon a quality cosmopolitan life in the Hague.

My interest in serving the international community is one reason I began volunteering with ACCESS. As information officer I provide guidance, advice, information to help individuals with settling, or living and working in the Netherlands and I enjoy doing it with all my heart.  I feel so lucky  that I have this opportunity use my organizational skills as the ACCESS project manager for sports, social and community groups at “The Feel at Home in The Hague Fair 2017.

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