Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vijayalakshmi Sridhar in the Hot Seat - Interview with an Expat

Vijayalakshmi Sridhar is a newbie in the Netherlands and a long way from home. Orignally from India, Viji now lives in Eindhoven as a student of the University of Technology. India and the Netherlands are a world apart, but Viji has already found out that living with the Dutch does have some advantages.

How long have you been living in the Netherlands?
I have been living in the Netherlands since January 2009.

What brought you initially to the Netherlands?
I came to the Netherlands to do my Post Master’s. I met a Dutch professor in Arizona while attending a conference. At that point I was doing my Master’s in Canada. Was in touch with him for a while and he told me about the program. I applied to the program on an impulse, got admitted and moved here!

What is your profession?
I am a student in the Eindhoven University of Technology.

What is the main difference between your country of origin and the Netherlands?
Everything! That is typically east, this is typically west! Ok, just to name one I would say that I love the punctuality of the people here. From even a casual get together with friends to meetings with company professionals, people are punctual and disciplined. In India everybody and everything is fashionably late!

What was the most surprising adjustment you needed to make when moving to the Netherlands?
To me the most surprising change was the means of commute. Not having used the bike much after my childhood, I am all of sudden forced to put my lazy self to a 12km bike ride everyday! I have actually lost weight and love the mobility that it gives me. To deftly pedal through the crowd is quite a challenge but except for a ‘couple’ of incidents am managing quite well :).

What would you miss most about the Netherlands if you were to leave tomorrow?
I would really miss the openness of this country both culturally and geographically. The freedom to speak your mind to everybody (well, mostly!) and the ease with which you can travel to another country even on your bike!

What do you like least about the Netherlands?
Couple of things. I am really not a big fan of Dutch food. Being an Indian and a vegetarian, I don’t find the going easy especially when I have to dine out. But on the bright side my cooking skills have improved! The second thing that I am not quite ok with is the way the shops close so early here. I landed here on the weekend, and suddenly on Sunday, it was as though the city had gone into hibernation!

What is your favourite Dutch word?
Alstublieft and gezellig are my favorite Dutch words. I love the subtleness in their meaning. I could not think of literal translation of these words in English and that to me in some ways depicts the uniqueness of the Dutch culture.

How would you describe the Dutch people?
Open, frank, coffee guzzling, having mini conversations over the coffee machines, bike riding under all crazy weather conditions, traveling all over the country on those two wheels, modern yet traditional, wayyy polite in pointing out directions, “Unzz Unzz” thumping music at all events, street after street filled with bars and caf├ęs, never missing a free meal, making an appointment for everything on their little calendars – these are the few things on top of my mind that are typically Dutch! :-)

Do you have any blogs or websites that you find enjoyable about the Netherlands for people living here?
These are the three blogs that were of great use to me. To read and seek comfort over similar situations –

And of course don't forget to check out Viji's own blog -

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