People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, E52 has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.
Name: Corinne Heyman
Country of origin: Belgium
Work: freelance theatre maker, writer and drama teacher
With a fresh face, including red cheeks from the cold, Corinne enters eatery Onder de Leidingstraat. Almost immediately we start with her story on how she ended up in Eindhoven. It turns out Corinne is from Antwerp. So far, she is the international in this series who travelled the shortest distance to Eindhoven. But there are enough differences she noticed between the two countries, but we will get back to that later. “I’m happy we are finally here. We moved in our house right at the start of the new year. I live together with a guy from the village Budel, where he also has his atelier with heavy machinery. Moving those machines wasn’t an option. It is easy for him to go to Budel from Eindhoven and I can travel to Antwerp where I still teach.”
Finding a house wasn’t easy: “Buying a house wasn’t possible for us and in the private rental sector the financial bar is set very high. We almost thought we would never find a house. And we were eligible for social housing, but we would have to be on the waiting list for more than eight years. Eventually, we did find a house thanks to a rental company. It isn’t the first time I’m living together with a Dutch person. During my time I was a student, I shared a house with a few Dutch people. My boyfriend visited his friends at that house and that’s how we met each other. Living together with the Dutch is also very handy. They are more direct and practical.”
“When it comes to looks, Eindhoven and Antwerp aren’t really comparable. But when it comes to developments, innovation and renewed parts of the city they are. In Antwerp, there is also a lot going on in the more rougher parts of the city. They are transformed into residential and work areas. The funny thing is you have in Antwerp all kinds of squares and beforehand you never know if it’s busy and happening there or not. Just like Strijp S in Eindhoven, they sometimes are completely empty and sometimes is super crowdy. And everybody knows each other too, just like here. But I really need to build a network here. Last year I started with that already a bit. I taught writing to elderly people at a nursing home from Vitalis. That was so much fun! And simultaneously the participants gave me history lessons about Eindhoven.”
“Eindhoven is our new place to live, but it is also for us a new city to discover”Corinne Heyman, Theatre maker
The language can be a struggle for Corinne sometimes. “In Flemish, we also use French words often. For example, I couldn’t come up with the Dutch word for lighter, we call it an allumeur. And we use a different stress in a lot of words. I teach to children and they are very alert on me still using Flemish words. If not, they correct me immediately. Being Belgian was never really a thing for me, but when the person at the municipality told me I could become Dutch after four years of living here, my first reaction was that I would never do that. On the opposite, my boyfriend wouldn’t want to become a Belgian either if he would have moved to Antwerp. Yet the Dutch and the Belgians don’t diver that much. They are both evenly stingy and always looking for the cheapest option. Something that is different: here it is normal you treat your friends to a drink when you go to a bar, but in Antwerp, we didn’t do that at all.”
“I love the practical side of the Netherlands. A lot of things a better arranged than in Belgium. A simple example: when you are on a bus here, you can see or hear when it’s your stop. In Belgium, you have to ask if the chauffeur wants to tell you when you have arrived at your destination. And companies here often are more aware of the environment and efficiency. A lot of things can be arranged online, without printing. But I have Flemish clients that don’t want a digital file of my public transport card when I send in the expenses I made, they only want tickets.”
“I have already visited a few nice local bars in Eindhoven. We live across from café Kraaij & Balder, a really old typical Eindhoven café. And close by the Trudo church is a café and they have a parrot. I thought that was a surreal place to be. Sitting at the bar, I do some sort of anthropological research as inspiration for my work. I love this kind of places. Eindhoven is our new place to live, but to us it is also a new city to discover. I’m still looking for a nice park we can go when the weather is sunnier and a route to run. I have the feeling I can spend a lot of years here.”
Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel