Nada in WonderNetherlands
Interview with Nada Mesqui, from Rijeka in Croatia living in Amsterdam, Executive coach for Young Professionals and Teams, CPCC & ACC, founder of the Big C.
My name is Nada Mesqui. Those of you who have a bit of ear for European names have already figured out that my first and last name don’t go that well together. Indeed, my first name is a very popular Ex-Yugoslavian name that you will find especially common in the Balkan peninsula amongst female population born after the 2nd World War when parents wanted nothing more for their children than a bit of hope (nada in Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian). My last name I took from my French husband (how very emancipated of me, I know) and to this day it remains pretty much the only French thing about me.
I am a real European mud; my father is orthodox Serbian, my mother catholic Croat with Hungarian roots so identifying myself with one specific nationality never felt right. I do recognize some Balkanised traits in me like pride, grid and value for family but I would say that I have picked up something from each culture that played a role in my life; from Italy passion for food and art, from US the need for tolerance and equality and from my current home, the Netherlands- the permission to just be myself.
I grew up in a town called Rijeka, and it’s a place I will always go back to with pleasure. Its non-pretentious, not too touristic, urban atmosphere is something I cherish, not to mention the real perk of living 5-minute drive from the beach. Enjoying the beach life is something I would surely miss here if I didn’t have the luxury of packing my little tribe every July and flying from Amsterdam to Croatia for the “real” summer. For someone who grew up at the sea side, the Dutch climate and the absolute lack of vitamin D can be a challenge. Still, very quickly you understand that in order to survive you simply need to do as the locals do and live outside every second that the sun graces us with its presence. This migration to outdoors still does not seize to amaze me; if there is 30 minutes of consistent sunshine present, you can see the whole city transform itself- all the cafés are suddenly full, parks covered in picnic blankets, children playing barefoot in the sand, everyone smiling with a beer in their hands, a real metropolitan utopia. As a mom of two active boys, I very much appreciate this relaxed, outdoorsy life style.
We came here almost 3 years ago because of my partner’s work and we immediately felt at home. We live in the heart of Amsterdam, the real metropolitan village where there is a place for everyone. I do wish to precise that Amsterdam is not the Netherlands. The incredible multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion that this city represents is not necessarily the picture you will see in any other city of this country.
As of 2018, the Dutch are indeed a minority in A’dam, with over 56% of its population coming from outside of the Netherlands, making this city the most international city in the world. The real challenge here is not to “feel at home” but more to “feel in the Netherlands”. With English being fully accepted as the main business language, you could easily live here without ever speaking a word of Dutch.
The downside of this apparent advantage is that immigrants often find themselves in their own “international bubble” without making a real effort to integrate with the Dutch community. The beautiful thing about the Dutch is that they don’t seem to care about it; they accepted their metropolis to be the international mecca and a touristic cash caw and they are willingly moving out to city outskirts, providing more space to rich and silly expats willing to pay ridiculous rents to live in the centre of Amsterdam.
Practicality and Pragmatism
This practicality and pragmatism is the first thing that stroke me about the Dutch. At one of our first dinners in a Dutch family home we were kindly asked to pay for our part of the dinner; something that would be considered blasphemy in a Croatian home, here it is just a proof of equality and already mentioned practicality. But once you accept the Dutch directness and understand it is never personal, you will probably, just like myself, start genuinely appreciating always knowing exactly where you stand with your neighbours.
Coaching Consultancy Company
This trait is especially helpful in business as the grey areas are decreased to a minimum. I worked both as an employee and as an entrepreneur here and both experiences were characterized by extreme clarity and transparency. For the last year, I run a coaching consultancy: www.thebigc.nl
with 3 other coaches for both organizations and individuals that aims to help young professionals step into leadership roles. Our goal is to create work environments in which every team member takes full ownership of their own impact, where there is acceptance and appreciation of our diversity which has as a result a sense of belonging and meaning, top factors that will determine the teams engagement and productivity.
I would say the challenges of starting over are similar as in any other country; it takes time and persistency to build trust and a consistent client base but we love what we do and our clients recognise that. My partners are all experienced, international professionals with extensive business background and we all had similar paths that led us to build other businesses by building people behind them.
Potentially the biggest advantage of doing it here, in the Netherlands, is that the awareness of organizations is more elevated than in other parts of the world and businesses are agreeing with the fact that their only real asset are their people which makes any investment in their development have an instant and guaranteed ROI.
Personally, the most challenging part of being a business owner is not doing the work but putting yourself out there; attending HR conferences, networking events, public speaking engagements, being present and visible in your own industry and in a new environment this could feel even more vulnerable than in your own country.
Still, it is the most efficient way to build your new network and grow your business.
Piece of Advice
One piece of advice that I would give to anyone moving to the Netherlands is to start networking before they move; there are many international platforms, depending on your area of interest, for you to feel connected and involved even before you reach your new destination. And last but not least, every new destination is a new opportunity. When you approach it from that perspective, you stop thinking about everything and everyone that you are leaving behind and you start focusing on all the new possibilities to connect, learn and grow as a family, as a professional and as a human being.
Text and Photos: Communications-Unlimited.nl
© Copyright www.communications-unlimited.nl, 2019. All rights reserved.
Read and watch also our previous interviews:
Latest series: in WonderLimburg/in Wonder Netherlands in an alphabetical order
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Chalida (Thailand): ‘’Things happen for some reason’’ Personal journey from Motherland to Fatherland
Elena (Latvia): ‘’The Netherlands and Limburg will always remain in my heart as one of the brightest memories’’
Marieke (Spain/The Netherlands): ”That makes the distance between Barcelona and Maastricht very small”
Michelle (Australia): ”We are really fortunate to have a strong community here in Limburg”
Nestar (Uganda): ’’Limburg is my new home. But Uganda is my roots and flows in my blood’’
Nino (Georgia): ’’I know that dreams come true only when you work hard and try to develop’’
Nurlaila (Indonesia): ‘’Never stop dreaming; finding your passion isn’t just about career and money. It’s about finding your authentic self.’’
Sara (Iran): ‘’From Tehran to Eijsden’’
Agnieszka (Poland): ‘’It is here where after a long search I have found myself’’
Céline (Canada): ‘’My new Chez Moi’’
Heide (Austria): ‘’The ‘music’ in both languages made the connection for me’’
Katalin (Hungary): ‘’What I learnt in Limburg is: stop running, slow down and try to enjoy life’’
Meghan (United States of America): ‘’While we never dreamed we would live here, now we dream of staying for good’’
Orsolya (Hungary): ‘’Maastricht is a potpourri of people, nations and moods’’
Sathi (India): ‘’Two lives in Maastricht’’
Silvina (Argentina): ‘’You have to fly to change languages in Argentina’’
Sonia (India): ‘’I was tremendously excited on starting this new episode in my life’’