Interview with Agnieszka Borzęcka from Poland, living in Maastricht
A land of polyglots
My name is Agnieszka Borzęcka. My home country is Poland, but for last seven years, I have been living in Maastricht. When I recall, how I arrived to the Netherlands seven years ago, it was something rather unexpected. You know, how it is, when you send or you hand in your CV and then you erase it from your memory. Unless, it is something that matters to you. In my case, I sent it, I forgot about it and then they called me. And then I said yes, and then I arrived to Maastricht. I came to Maastricht for work purposes with an idea to leave the Netherlands after one year unless they decide otherwise. Maastricht was like another stage of my life. After one year I planned to catch a plane and to go to a remote destination, where the sun is all but shy. The Netherlands – the rainy land famous for its cheese, tulips, dams and grass. That was my idea about the Netherlands seven years ago. But plenty has changed since then. In my first two days, I learned words like korting and 3 halen, 2 betalen; but my first brief encounter with a local user was a real eye opener for me. I was walking down the street, and an addict stopped me. He asked me a question. I replied to him after a while of silence: “I don’t understand you.” And he responded to me, “well do you want to talk auf Deustch, in English, French, oppure in Italiano, or perhaps in Maestreechs?” Well, I was slightly shocked. A local wasted man was trying to sell me some cards and spoke to me in 4 languages. On that day, I understood that I am in a land of polyglots.
For six years having worked in a multinational with a majority of foreign people from the whole world I haven’t made time to learn Dutch and I haven’t had the motivation to do it. On top of that everybody talks to me English. The official language at my workplace was English. Whenever I tried to speak Dutch to locals, they changed to English or German usually. I still find it fascinating. Maastricht is one of few European cities, where next to the official language you may communicate in English (or German, French) freely, with no offense. Advertisements are even in English. Dutch Maestrecht people intersperse a conversation with foreign words and in the blink switch languages. Even older people do it. In what another European city you may communicate in 4 languages? On the other hand, there are some drawbacks because I don’t speak Dutch. Although I understand the majority of written and spoken language, lack of speaking competence does not allow me to experience people, culture, and this place the way I would like to. I perceive and sense my reality here in a very neutral way. Like there is depth, but I cannot reach it. Therefore, if you don’t speak Dutch yet, I encourage you to learn it. You will witness an entirely new world. When I used to live in England or traveled to Italy for several years, thanks to English and Italian skills, I experienced people and surrounding on a totally different level. I had “access” to the mentality of natives, their sense of humor, what made them happy and what their challenges were. One of my favorite activities abroad is to talk to locals. To have a small talk on a fish market with them, or speak of dolce vita or why British people are never satisfied with the weather. Here, I do not have access to these experiences, and I miss it. I understand more or less what is going on around me; I understand more or less the press, people, menus, conversations or Dutch social media or what people talk about while queuing for a bundle of fresh asparagus. But living on more or less is far less than authentic.
My International community
One very unusual thing about Maastricht is its International Community. It is very diverse and super interesting. International Community in Maastricht is to be found everywhere. There is a superb Consciousness Coaching tribe that I belong to, where individually and together with other coaches we focus on creating an impact on our lives and lives of others. There is a vibrant community of fantastic women from IWC, who have one of the best agenda in the region. A super ambitious and super helpful community of cross fitters from Crossfit Batteroaf, where together with the others I challenge my physical and mental limits. People from the various backgrounds can be found at networking events, which are not only for students. Since Maastricht is a university city, there is always a plenty going on. From music concerts to thought-provoking lectures held by international lecturers and engaging social entrepreneurship’s workshops and initiatives.
One of my life values is a time in nature. My favorite places to go and relax are the area of St. Pietersberg with its caves, Dreilandenpunt with the Eifelpark (although out of Limburg) and the green area of Amby, where I used to live, and all bosky neighborhoods of Limburg. I enjoy spending time in nature and taking pictures. I have a good time cycling in the stunning forest of the St. Pietersberg, having a relaxing walk out there, or a morning run. In sunny days, I love to chill out on a hill where I can admire a striking view on Belgium’s Kanne and then continue along the Albert Canal (although this time in Belgium).
Another neat thing about Maastricht is that you can get on the bike whenever you want. I always say, the first folks in Maastricht were cyclists. You can get everywhere, even to neighboring countries, which is impressive. The location of Maastricht makes this city very attractive for those who love to explore more than what only the city has to offer.
Although the city is cute and vibrant, I feel massively attracted to places that are far but the center of the city. The forest of St. Pietersberg with its caves in Maastricht, bunkers of Belgium close to Maastricht, where the most important battles in Europe took place, all small villages around Limburg like Val-Dieu, Gulpen, little Switzerland (area of Epen and Norbek) all of them are not only picturesque but within a reach. Discovering all those a bit remote but beautiful places makes Limburg an appealing place to live.
Being a huge fan of Mediterranean culture and cuisine, I love to visit Italian and Greek places in Maastricht. In Apuana Toscanella in Maastricht, you get the best cappuccino and tiramisu in the city. They offer fresh Italian veggies, handmade delectable bread, Tuscan food, original Italian products, and Italian art pieces. But their exquisite Italian pizza con prosciutto crudo e Mascarpone has no equal in this city. In Ellinikon, you are served like in Greece, and you eat like by Greek mama: moussaka, fresh fish or heavenly Greek starters just to name a few…mmm I am getting hungry.
My day by day
Although I didn’t intend to come to live to the Netherlands, I have had here some biggest life breakthroughs. It is here where after a long search I have found myself. One year ago I quit my job in a corporation and had begun to live on my terms. Since 2015, I have been on a mission to create real breakthroughs in my life and impact my life and lives of the others. I have taken full responsibility to use my life as a platform to dare, challenge myself, play big, risk and encourage others to do the same. When I was unemployed, I didn’t go to work, but I decided to create my work that gives me satisfaction and serves other people. Therefore, I decided to write my first book about authentic life out of the comfort zone. The title of the book is “Be Authentic. 9 Self-Empowerment strategies to be unstoppable.”
My next challenge will be to get the International Diploma in Consciousness Coaching. As a Mindset and Result Coach, I am passionate to work with people who are eager to break out of their comfort zones, hit their goals and create tremendous results in their lives by developing their mindsets. What I do now is what I like. Apart from coaching and writing, I work as a foreign language teacher in Maastricht. I am also an aspiring entrepreneur and online marketer. But my biggest passion and value is authenticity and freedom for powerful women entrepreneurs. Therefore, in the nearer feature, I am planning to launch an event for fearless women who don’t want to settle down in life for nothing but extraordinary. Therefore, I’d love to use this opportunity and share here with you that I will be extremely honored and privileged to gather all bold ladies willing to show off and playing big in their lives to support me in establishing a community of confident and ambitious women entrepreneurs.
Thank you for your time taken to read my story