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: Sukanya Krishnamurthy
Country of origin: India
Work: Assistant Professor at Department of the Built Environment at Eindhoven Technical University
It is a grey and rainy day when we meet Sukanya. She is standing in front of Vertigo, the building on the university campus where she works. She greets us with a warm smile and asks where we want to go for the interview. We choose the Metaforum. It’s almost time for lunch, so more and more students and staff are heading towards the restaurant in the building. “It still isn’t cold, so let’s enjoy some fresh air,” Sukanya says and we find a nice spot outside, where it is dry and quiet.
Sukanya has, as she puts it, ‘a nice global history’. “I did my in Bachelors in India followed by my Masters and PhD in Germany. After which I had a research job in Canada and then moved to Eindhoven to take up an academic position. I really wanted to experience the world and this has also shaped my work.” Sukanya’s work focuses on how cities can use their resources and values for better sustainable development. “I always liked teaching and here I can do both research and teaching. It keeps you on your feet!”, she says talking about the profile of her job, “When I applied I had in mind that the Netherlands would be comfortable move, mainly because of the English language. Most people speak English here and you can manage quiet easily.”
“I have come into my own here. But I had to get used to the mentality: people can be quite direct. In the beginning, I had a difficult time with it. For instance in work discussions, people would just say to me ‘No, I can’t do it’ or ‘I don´t have time’. I wasn’t used to people being that frank right to my face. In other countries, your colleagues would beat around the bush more and then maybe say a polite no in a later moment. But I’m adapting. The other day we were in a meeting and I said we should get to the point. I shocked the rest of the group,” Sukanya laughs out loud. “It was quite confrontational to hear myself say something like that.”
“Eindhoven needs a balance between the technical emphasis and the softer, cultural, and more everyday activities”Sukanya Krishnamurthy, Assistant Professor
If something can be improved in Eindhoven, it is the food culture, according to Sukanya: “You can learn a lot from the countries in the south! Kruisstraat is a nice example within the city, we need more like this! There needs to be a balance between the technical emphasis and the softer, cultural, and more everyday activities, more food options would be a great place to start!”
“I really enjoy how comfortable it has been here for us. We quickly adjusted. Eindhoven is one of the smaller towns I lived in, but there is a lot of different things happening here.” She continues about her partner, “I met my husband in Estonia but we come from the same city in India. We lived in adjacent neighborhoods growing up and we knew the same people when we studied. We had to go across the world to finally meet! He now lives in Scotland, so we live between two countries. We travel back and forth from Scotland to the Netherlands quite a bit. Though not easy, it is also not unique nowadays.”
Being avid travellers, Sukanya continues, “We travel a lot and with it has come with adventures and misadventures! You get more flexible. I have learnt that you can’t always plan everything, sadly! And most of times the unexpected works out. Having lived now in a number of countries, it has made me more open. There is very little that shocks me. One of the downsides is that we have had to leave our friends every time. But on the other hand, you learn to adapt, make new friends, setup new networks. We think of it as one big adventure.”
Since a year Sukanya lives on Strijp S and enjoys the vibe of the neighbourhood. “Since when we first moved here, our favourite spot in Eindhoven was Strijp S. Loft living in most places around the world can be unaffordable, but here we are able to live in one. So, every time I come home, the space and light give me a lot of energy.”
You can see Sukanya’s work with the Embassy of Data during the World Design Event/ Dutch Design Week in the former V&D- building, Vrijstraat 11 in Eindhoven.
Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel