At Home in Leiden: Teratai Hiep

| Municipality of Leiden

Teratai Hiep: 'Leidenaren "adopted me", so I gained the confidence to undertake new things'.

'I was kind of emotional when I exchanged my first "Dutch" bike at the bike shop for a new one. There were so many special memories attached to it!' Teratai Hiep (36), originally from Singapore, laughs as she recalls that moment. It shows that after six years in our country, she has acquired many traits.

'What is more Dutch than a bike?' notes Teratai, who is already proficient in the Dutch language. 'For many newcomers, mastering cycling is a struggle. That's why, as an intercultural trainer, I am proud when I see other internationals cycling through the city, even though it may be challenging for them'.

Teratai Hiep on the Nieuwsteegbrug. 'As an intercultural coach I am a bridge builder. Plus, I love this bridge because we took our wedding photos here.”

Teratai, along with her Dutch husband for whom she came to the Netherlands, has found her place in Leiden. Initially they lived in the Ketelboetersteeg in the centre of the city. 'Busy? No! Just quiet because I was used to the hustle and bustle of traffic in the centre of Singapore.' Laughing, she says: 'I remember walking into the living room on October 3rd and facing a line of men peeing against the facade of our house. I thought, "This must be normal in the Netherlands".

Picture of the interviewee; Teratai Hiep

She is grateful for the people who "adopted" her over the past years. 'As a newcomer, the first time in a new country is the most difficult. Newcomers are initially mainly focused on survival and mastering practical skills. In addition, you always try to find out what 'normal' is. Other Leiden residents helped me understand daily life here, giving me the confidence to undertake new things.'

She wants to encourage Leiden residents to be open to newcomers. 'A small gesture can mean a lot to an international neighbour navigating through everything that is new. Just ask, if necessary via a card, if you can do something for them or explain something. For example, about how public transport works how Dutch parties celebrate parties.'