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For the second time, E52 organises the annual Expat Top-10. There are a lot of internationals in Eindhoven who have done a great job for the city, and by this, we put a spotlight on them. This year’s theme of the Top-10 is ‘Sport & Leisure’. Every day we present you an interview with one of the winners. In this interview, you can read about how they ended up in Eindhoven, how they put an effort in the city and how they look at the Eindhoven with their international perspective. Today: Colin Burke

Colin Burke
Born in 1985
From Dublin, Ireland
In Eindhoven since 2011
#1 on bucket list: “Skydiving, the adrenaline makes me feel alive”

He moved all over the world to travel, work and reflect on his life. Colin Burke left Ireland as an engineer, had all sorts of jobs, and eventually arrived in the Netherlands as an engineer again. Now he started his own enterprise where he wants to bring business and pleasure more together. He helps expats to feel more at home here. Besides that he founded Eindhoven’s touch rugby team.

“I only went to Amsterdam once, as a kid. I remember because my parents argued about whether they should show me the red light district or not”
It was a matter of coincidence that Burke moved to Eindhoven. “In 2006 I left Ireland as an engineer but I didn’t want to work in that area anymore. I went backpacking through south-east Asia and later on I went to Australia. There I fell in love with the country. I worked as an painter, carpenter and did renovation work. The whole thing was a learning curve for me. But I was fed up seeing so many Irish people. I wanted to go somewhere raw, so I ended up in South-Korea as an English teacher. Then an old college friend contacted me, that he had a job for me as an engineer in Veldhoven.” At his new job, Burke met his Polish girlfriend. “After two years we both quitted our job and started traveling from Mexico to Colombia. It was again a time of reflection. In 2014 we returned to Eindhoven for practical reasons. It’s close to me and my girlfriend’s home country, there’s an airport and international people are very welcome here.” But if he stays here his whole life… “I give myself a window of ten years to grow, and after that I evaluate again.”

“I realised that it takes balls to travel the whole world like I did, so I was also capable of starting my own thing”
Back in the Netherlands, Burke started for himself. “I found a job in the Netherlands but the company was not doing well, so I had to go. I was with my back against the wall. I realised that with all my experience I was capable to start my own thing. So I started cobu consulting. But I became a contracted freelancer. So I was again not entirely free.” That’s why Burke went on a journey again, but this time not abroad. “I wanted my enterprise to be as my traveling. Just go to a destination and find my way over there. It’s not an artificial but organic process.”

“Often internationals or expats don’t adapt, but also lose their own culture, then they end up in purgatory”Colin Burke, – Winner Expat Top-10

“I want to bring business and social life together, but most of all have fun. That’s part of my Irish background, even during bad times also trying to have fun.” Burke helps internationals and expats to feel at home in Eindhoven. “Internationals need to do a lot of things, they need to learn Dutch, they need to learn how things work here, and so on. That doesn’t give them a good feeling. So I want them to learn the culture while doing. One of my projects is about cycling. It doesn’t cost much, people get healthier and they learn Dutch while exploring in a relaxed way the area. With the bike they get more engaged.”

“Companies shouldn’t be boring,” says Burke with a smile. “I organise social events like karaoke nights and pub quizzes. My dream is to do a karting event at the High Tech Campus.” Burke is also one of the founders of the touch rugby club, which practices at the campus. “When I worked in South-Korea a seven year old student of mine got a burn-out. I learned that you shouldn’t focus on work too much.” With this sport Burke wants to connect people. “By sports all prejudices go to the side and you just play sports, you form a team and you get a friendship. Especially with a sport like rugby you really form a team.”

“It’s not the most beautiful city, but there are a lot of cool places”
Although the Dutch and Irish culture are very a-like to Burke, there are differences. “Ireland really brings people together, there is more of a social cohesion. Also, the Irish are more easy going and if something goes wrong they try to be positive and go on. Dutch people like to plan a lot and make it happen. It’s more thinking in squares here.”

With his new foldable bike, Burke loves cycling paths. “I love the ease of getting around here. Eindhoven also has a lot going on. It’s like a village that operates as a city. Unfortunately, all of it is behind the scenes and sometimes hard to find, especially for internationals because all internationals are individuals in the beginning. In the end Eindhoven is not the most beautiful city, but it has a lot of cool places.”


Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel