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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: Ivy Geelen
Country of origin: The Philippines
Study: Advanced Dutch course

At the front door of a house in a nice green suburban area, we are welcomed by Ivy and her family. We are greeted enthusiastically by her two-year-old daughter Stacey, who refers to herself as Shishi. She instantly becomes our new best friend. Ivy looks at Stacey and smiles: “She is always this happy. And as you can see, she is not shy at all.” With a curious Stacey by our side, we talk with Ivy about a new life in another country.

Ivy came to the Netherlands a few years ago, after she fell in love with a Dutch man. “We met online. My friends thought I should join a dating website, but I was sceptical. I wasn’t sure I would find a nice man online. But fortunately, I did. We started chatting and when he was travelling through Asia, we met in real life. We fell in love and later we got married and now we have Stacey.”

Starting a new live in Eindhoven, coming from a country with a tropical climate, wasn’t easy for Ivy. “Where I come from, it is never cold. The daily life happens more outside. Everybody’s door is always open and you know all the neighbours very well. Here I hardly know the neighbours. We say hello, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Everybody lives side by side, minding their own business. That is difficult for me sometimes. And I’m still not used to the changing of the seasons. The winter with its short days really effects my mood. But I get really happy when the spring finally starts.”

“Moving to a completely different country and culture was more life changing than I expected”Ivy Geelen,

Ivy emphasises on the fact that moving to a completely different country and culture was more life changing than she expected. “In the Philippines, I was an independent woman. I had my own apartment, worked as a singer and did lots of fun stuff with my friends. Since I’m here I have to learn to be that independent woman all over again. By building a new social live and learning the language and the customs, it is starting to get better for me. Fortunately, I met some ladies at the integration course, and we talk a lot. They became my friends. With them, I go shopping or we have a drink in the city. And my husband helps me as much as he can.”

“To stay here permanently I needed to pass the integration exam, or in Dutch ‘inburgeringsexamen’. It was very difficult. With group lessons, extra tutoring and studying very hard, I passed the exam.  I’m starting with an advanced Dutch course soon. I understand the language well, but I feel a bit insecure to speak Dutch. With this class, I hope to improve that. I hope the other students are on the same level as me. I learn fast and I want to learn as much as possible. After the course, I would like to start with a study so I can find a nice job.”

Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel