Since I first arrived in The Hague from Bangkok, three and a half years ago, I have never really felt out of place, nor homesick. Members of my family told me numerous times before I left that I would miss the food, the climate and the culture of Thailand. Now that I’ve been here for a while, I must admit that I miss all those things. So, with the Feel at Home International Community Fair fast approaching, I finally ask myself, what makes me feel at home? Why do I enjoy living in The Hague so much?
In hindsight, I’ve realized that the friends, acquaintances and outright random people I’ve encountered have mostly come from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds. This diversity has enabled me to meet new people from countries I would otherwise never have heard of, making my time here all the more interesting and less predictable. In addition to this, this diversity has also made it extremely easy for me to reconnect with my Asian heritage whenever I feel out of touch by visiting the marvelous variety of Thai, Chinese and Indonesian restaurants located around the city.
I must admit, after spending all this time here in The Netherlands, I still barely know enough Dutch to hold a conversation beyond a few sentences. This has never been a problem for me though, as the average Dutch person’s level of English is incredible, making it easy to get by with day to day life without evening speaking a word of Dutch. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m living in The Netherlands but, in an international hub.
Looking back on my life so far, The Hague and The Netherlands does stand out among the other countries I’ve lived or worked in (North America, Thailand, United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Finland). The main reason for this is that The Hague has a very strong sense of community which is built upon the many cultures and nationalities which exist within its boundaries. The Dutch’s open-mindedness, knowledge of the English language and efficiency has acted as a catalyst which has further enabled the development of this community into something truly unique that I haven’t been able to find abroad. This is what I believe has made me feel at home so far.
The Feel at Home International Community Fair for me is the embodiment of the international community here in The Hague as it offers the opportunity for many nationalities to connect and to share their stories, skills and services which they’ve all developed while being here in The Hague. This is why I’m glad to be part of the team of volunteers to make sure that the fair makes you feel the way I do about this city. That is to feel at home.