Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

You see more and more cultures on the streets

“The Iranian featured last week learned Dutch by watching a TV soap. I did it by volunteering at the local animal shelter.” Lindsey Reid from Northern Ireland immediately felt at home there, largely due to the one thing everyone had in common: their love of animals. Thanks to her background in communication and despite her poor Dutch, Lindsey managed to convince numerous visitors to adopt an animal. She soon took Klaas the cat home herself, although she found his name difficult to pronounce at first (‘Klas!’). Nowadays she speaks good Dutch and has even mastered a few words of Utrecht dialect. Again, thanks to her work in the shelter. ‘Wijffie’ (girl) is one such word.

Lindsey grew up in a village in Northern Ireland, on top of a hill which (as she illustrates) is higher than all the hills in the Netherlands put together. Only vaguely aware of ‘The Troubles’ in the 1970s, she heard the bombs as the struggle between Protestants and Catholics was fought out around the corner. Lindsey soon became used to unrest; life went on in Rathfriland. Her childhood on the farm was carefree, and even the animals weren’t bothered.

Recognition

After graduating in history at Oxford, Lindsey found a job in London as a government communication strategist. She loved the freedom of working in the centre of the city, enjoying unplanned posh lunches with business partners and going to the theatre whenever she felt like it. But love brought her to Amersfoort, and a year later, she moved to Utrecht. Amersfoort just didn’t push her buttons. It turned out to be a good move; Lindsey wouldn’t change Utrecht for anywhere else. She’s fallen in love with the city, the perfect cross between Rathfriland and London; it has the village feel, but is developing all the time.

“You see more and more cultures on the streets, which is great. I also like all the new cafés and restaurants opening close to where I live. The Watertoren is a great place to eat, as is the Asian restaurant LE:EN and Het Ketelhuis in the former Pastoe factory. Places like these have been around in London for fifteen years.” But to her, the card shop ‘It all starts with a postcard’ in Twijnstraat is a real bit of London. “When I first went in, I thought: wow, this feels familiar! I started talking to the owner in Dutch, but she replied in English with a North-London accent. She comes from Crouch End, which is the London suburb I used to live in.” Lindsey misses the theatres in Utrecht. “In London, you go and see Stephen Fry on stage, but I’m afraid I don’t recognise any of the famous Dutch actors.”

Utrecht has a special place in her heart because she read about it long ago during her studies. “What a weird name, I thought. The Treaty of Utrecht, the Roman history, I knew all about it. But when I came here and saw the traces of history with my own eyes, I realised that the link with my past made me feel warm and comfortable here.” The passionate historian – who occasionally swaps Utrecht for Eindhoven to lecture in change management and human resources – also gives guided tours of the city and the DomUnder museum.

Passport
Name: Lindsey Reid
Date of birth: 11 July 1973
Place of birth: Rathfriland
Motto: ‘Tomorrow is another day. (“I’m a positive person – you have to be if you emigrate.”)’


Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.

Click here to view the other articles.

Article by Fenna Riethof.