Today I have the pleasure to introduce Dutch Australian Nerissa Muijs. I met this gorgeous family at the Expatica “I am not a Tourist” Fair in Amsterdam in October 2012. Nerissa was the winner of the blogging competition with her blog Adventures in Integration and I really enjoy reading her posts.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know her through this email interview and hope you do too!
Place of birth
Kingston S.E. in country South Australia; most famous as being the home of The Big Lobster.
Current place of residence
Previous place/s of residence
Edinburgh, Plymouth, Alice Springs, Naracoorte SA, Christchurch, Kulgera NT, Kuala Lumpur, Lucindale SA (the centre of the universe).
Connections to Australia
I’m Australian, my family all still live there.
Connections to The Netherlands
This is home now. My husband is Dutch, my daughter is Dutch (I’ll eventually apply for a passport for her), my life is IN Dutch. I should have known I would end up here, when I was a small girl we had to dress up as our chosen nationality for a school event and I went as a Dutch milkmaid. It was destiny…
What is your level of fluency in English/NL?
I’m a fluent Dutch speaker.
I grew up on the family farm with my parents, brother and grandparents (they had their own house, obviously). I spent my childhood climbing trees, making cubbies and riding motorbikes (in between playing Barbies of course).
My family has lived in Australia since the 1850s, so not quite the first fleet, but long enough that I can never benefit from an ancestry visa anywhere. Oh how I wish I could have had just one migrant grandparent!
If you have children where were they born?
I have one daughter, born in Feb 2012 here in the Netherlands.
If you have children are you raising them bilingually?
We’re definitely raising our daughter to be bilingual. I am forever envious of people who are naturally bilingual and wish that the quality of my own language lessons was higher when I was at school. I spent eight years learning French, but can barely order a glass of wine.
What are your feelings about Australia?
At first I missed everything about Australia terribly, but as time goes on I feel the pull less and less. There are many social issues that disturb me, but I love how invested Australians are in one another.
I miss the quality of life and of course, the weather.
What are your feelings about The Netherlands?
Mixed. I love how close I am to everything. It truthfully feels as though I live in the centre of the universe. I still struggle almost every single day with the bubble mentality of many people living here (i.e. nothing exists outside the tiny space around me) and the Me First attitude. The day a man invited me to check out at the supermarket before him I almost hugged him.
Depending on which country you are based in, do you visit Australia at all?
Not very often. The last time I was there was when I was married in 2010. We are planning a trip for Christmas in December 2012 though, the first Christmas with my family in eight years.
How do you communicate with family in the other country? How regularly?
I communicate mostly via email and Facebook. I Skype regularly with my parents and thank goodness for smartphones and Whatsapp.
Do you celebrate Australian traditions in NL?
Not really to be honest. In the first year I was here we travelled to The Hague for Anzac Day as it the most important day of the year to me, but it’s just not that easy to get to the service in time and on a weekday it’s impossible. I have a friend who is planning to hold an Australia Day BBQ in January 2013; that should be interesting in the sub-zero temperatures!
Thanks for sharing Nerissa! This is part of a series of interview of Dutch Australian people..if you’d like to share your story, please contact us. You can also browse this website or connect with other Dutch Australians via our Facebook page. Renee