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: Samah Khalek
Country of origin: Lebanon
Work: Strategic Support R&D at ASML
Just as we want to ring the doorbell at Samah’s apartment building, a friendly man opens the door for us. The friendly man turns out to be Samah himself, just arriving from work with his bike. He takes us up to his corner loft. Golden rays of sunlight shine through the windows, so first things first: taking photographs, while the light is so good. When we start with the interview we sit down at the couch and Samah points at the painting above it: “My mother made this. She is an artist. Both my parents have a creative profession. My brother and I studied physics and my sister biology, so that is quite a contrast with them.”
“I like to do new things, to meet people, get to know other expats and I also like to participate in new things. That’s why I’m joining this series.” Samah is now four years in the Netherlands. But how did he end up here? “I lived in France and got a call from a headhunter, he told me about ASML. Before that conversation, I was more thinking about going to Germany, but it is easier to come here. The Dutch are more relaxed about the language, especially in the industry. So I took the shot. I started as a design engineer, but now I have a special role within the company: I do the strategic support at the R&D department. My role is to support the decision making in the organization. The goal is to provide the management with a strategic view of the future, so they can make better decisions, based on data. I look for what things are necessary at this moment, what has the most impact in the future?”
“The lifestyle here suits me really well. I feel at home”Samah Khalek, Strategic Support R&D at ASML
“When I go to work at 8:30 by bike, there are all the students on the road, biking the other way to school. And I enjoy it so much to see that. It reminds me of when I was 10 years old, biking with friends, once every summer, with the whole group on the road. It was such a good feeling. Every time I go to work, people bike everywhere. I love it. While one of my Dutch friends says that it’s so annoying, all those students on bikes everywhere,“ Samah laughs, “It is a good example on how we all experience things differently.”
“Getting started here in Eindhoven wasn’t very difficult for me. When I arrived, at first I took an Airbnb-room with a Dutch family. They helped me to understand the system. The company helped also with all the papers. Because of my experience in France everything looks easy here. France is a lot more bureaucratic. Here I went to the municipality and forgot a to take a form with me, but it was good enough to show it on my phone in a pdf. The people were friendly and helpful. I didn’t have to learn anything new to get up to speed. The language is important and the lifestyle suits me really well. I feel at home here.”
“I come from a small town in Lebanon, but I lived in big cities like Paris and Montpellier. Eindhoven is smaller, but the number of things to do is good. And it is close to many other cities, so you can also go there. And this area, Strijp S, is busy when you want it to be busy, not like the city center. What I do in my spare time depends on when you ask me. I did a lot of things and I keep on changing. Every time I start with something as a hobby I think this is my thing, but two months later I want to start something else. Now I’m studying Dutch two times a week and I have to do my homework. Today I have my monthly game night with a group of friends. We have dinner and play board games. The group is a mix of international people and Dutch. It is not easy to build a network, you have to invest time in it. So that’s what I do!”
Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel