People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, Innovation Origins has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.
Name: Kim MacDougall
Country of origin: Canada
On a gloomy Monday morning, we meet Kim at eatery Brownies & Downies. This restaurant is a unique place where mentally challenged people and people with a distance to the job market get a chance to gain work experience. “I wanted to meet here because I really like this concept,” Kim says. “I don’t go to the city centre that often, except recently a bit more with Christmas coming up.” When Kim talks about Christmas her face lights up. “I really love it. I want to celebrate it over the top, with lots of decorations and gifts,” she tells with a big smile. “Unfortunately it is difficult to go to Canada this time of year, with Canada’s winters and all the snowstorms. I don’t want to spend the holidays at an airport!”
Where in most interviews with internationals, logically, the international talks about his or her life, in the talk with Kim, we get some questions too. She is genuinely interested in our work and life in Eindhoven. Of course, we want to know also a lot about Kim. “I’m married to a Dutchman. Years ago we worked for the same company, he in America and I in Canada. We liked each other but not in a romantic way yet. He moved to the United Kingdom and we didn’t see each other for three years. We met again and fell in love. After a while, we figured out we couldn’t make both our careers a priority with the changing work locations. My husband had to move for his job several times and I decided I wanted to be with him and followed him. That couldn’t have worked with a career of my own. Certainly not by the time our son was born.”
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Kim gives us a little insight on what it is like to move a lot as a family: “Every time you move to a new place you have to make new friends. When you live in a new city, you don’t have friends or family to help you out. This also impacts career possibilities: when you have to work late for example, and you can’t pick up your child from school, you can’t call family or friends to help you out. I am glad I can be there for our son every day. Especially when he was little, I felt that it was very important to be there for him, to have that as a constant. Now he is getting more independent, but I’m around when he needs me. In every place where we live he attends the international school, also here in Eindhoven. The international school is a constant for him, with a consistent curriculum. It takes a village to raise a child, but in our situation, the village keeps changing. It makes children like my son more resilient, but I know that moving a lot also has consequences in the future. On the upside is the interaction with different cultures and the world isn’t intimidating to him. On the other hand, I have read that later in life they can have difficulties with relationships because they want to leave when it gets difficult.”
When we start talking about Eindhoven, Kim is very positive. “In the beginning, it was tough to fall in love with this city. We lived in Maastricht before with its historical centre and the Maas river. Eindhoven doesn’t really have the typical Dutch historical houses, but I like it here anyway. There is a lot going on. I do miss water here, like canals or something. The thing I don’t like is the traffic in the Netherlands. It is definitely much busier on the Eindhoven roads than when we arrived four years ago. To keep it in perspective, however, when I compare it to other cities where I have lived, it isn’t that bad. The traffic flows because of the rules; being Canadian, where we try to be polite and let people go ahead of us, it took time to get used to always taking the right of way when I have it.”
Kim is a talented painter and she shows us some of her work on her phone. We see detailed paintings, with vibrant colours and portraits with a soul. “These days I make a lot of commissioned work, such as portraits of people and also pets. I really enjoy creating something beautiful. The happy reactions of my customers mean a lot to me. I also painted our dog. One of the things I love the most about living here is the fact that it is so dog-friendly and especially compared to Canada, you can bring your dog with you everywhere.”
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel
Read more stories of internationals here.