Olga from Russia


Door Sabine te Braake
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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: Olga Koltsova
Country of origin: Russia
Work: Russian teacher and writer

Wedged between Poland and Lithuania is a part of Russia. “This is a former part of East Prussia,” tells Olga us. “It was given to Russia after the war. I grew up in this part of Russia in the city of Kaliningrad. It is a really specific part of Russia because of the history and the fact that is it’s separated from the rest of the country. A lot of people in Kaliningrad speak a bit of Polish because they go to Poland a lot. It is only a one hour drive.” We are at the café of the library, one of Olga’s favourite places in the city, and after this short lesson in geography and ordering coffee, we start talking about her life here.

“My partner already lived here in Eindhoven and I joined him. He studied at the TU/e and now he is working in the high tech industry. I have been in Eindhoven for a year now, and before that, I was here frequently. I had to finish my Masters in linguistics first in Russia. During my study, I also learned German and English. Now I’m learning Dutch, but I regularly mix up German and Dutch words. I’m learning the language one on one with somebody who wants to learn Russian. We teach each other. In my opinion, it is important for me to learn Dutch because I live here. It is not ideal to use another language like English.” Olga’s partner is Turkish, so they have a quite international household. “We speak English with each other. For some things like fruit, vegetables, and cheese we use the Dutch words. They are on the labels in the supermarket and sometimes I don’t know the Russian or English word for something.”

"I really love how strong the international community in Eindhoven is"
Olga Koltsova —
Russian teacher and writer

Olga is a writer for E52.nl and she met Diewke, the photographer of this series, at a meeting at the Van Abbemuseum. “In Russia, the art is much more traditional and figurative. Here you even have abstract art and contemporary art on the street. And I was really amazed to see a Mondrian quote on the wall of the Eindhoven train station. At the Van Abbe, I joined a meeting in the project Werksalon. I saw a call of the museum to attract expats. The museum wants to become more appealing to them. Werksalon is a discussion group, with also presentations about making changes in the collections. It was so interesting and inspiring. It was a whole new experience for me. My best museum experience was in Rotterdam at an expo about surrealism at the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum.”

On Sundays, Olga teaches Russian to children. “The children have one or both parents with a Russian background and they want their children to speak Dutch and Russian. The children sometimes come from far away to the classes in Eindhoven, because not every place has a Russian school. For me, it is nice to speak Russian, but I’m really used to English and Dutch now. One thing I miss, besides my family, of course, is the cooking of my mother. I can make her recipes, but it will never taste the same way as when she makes it.”

It is nice to see and hear how comfortable Olga feels in Eindhoven. “I really love how strong the international community in Eindhoven is. Before I came to the Netherlands I did online research on Eindhoven to prepare myself. I found the Expat Spouses Initiative and I contacted them. I was looking for that kind of organizations. The Expat Spouses Initiative supports international professionals locally. I went to meetings about how to improve a CV, there are also meetings about job opportunities, they provide Dutch courses and you will find them at the Expat Fair. The meetings gave me structure. I learned what topics are really crucial to get my life up to speed as soon as possible. The members of the initiative have had the same experience when they came to the Netherlands. It is all about reinventing yourself.”

Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel