Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.
“Gezellig was one of the first words I learned and it certainly applies to Utrecht“
Manizha comes from Tajikistan, but has spent more time living in other places in Europe than in her native country. When she was twelve, she and her parents moved to Prague for their work. She then went to Sweden to study Economics & Business and even had a spell living in Berlin. “I’ve always travelled a lot and geographically, the Netherlands was the next logical step.” Manizha has lived in Utrecht for four years now. “I already knew a few people in Utrecht, so it was an easy decision. And it’s such a lovely, gezellige city. It’s the perfect size for me. Not too big, like New York, but not so small that you get bored. There’s always something going on. Gezellig (cosy, friendly) was one of the first Dutch words I learned and it certainly applies to Utrecht.”
One of the biggest shocks for Manizha was the fact that the Netherlands is so flat. “I come from a mountain village in Tajikistan. It’s so remote that it takes three days to get there from here. So the flatness took some getting used to. Even after the Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany…” But breakfast was an even bigger shock. “What strange habits you have: you take a slice of bread, butter it and then add chocolate!”
One of the things that Manizha misses when she’s away is cycling, although she had to do her best to learn. “Before I came to the Netherlands, I’d never even sat on a bike. People don’t cycle in Tajikistan or anywhere else where I’ve lived, so I didn’t need to learn. But I had no choice here. I tried to get out of it for the first couple of months, but I was living in Zuilen and there was no escape! A friend arranged for me to have her grandmother’s bike. We went to Zeist to pick it up and that’s when I learned to cycle. I was terrified all the way home, wobbling left and right across the bike path, but we made it eventually.”
Manizha recently moved to Oudegracht with a flatmate. She works in communication and marketing at IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative). But her love of travel is giving her itchy feet and she can see herself taking off again soon. “I think Utrecht will still be my base. I’ll come back eventually. It’s because I feel most at home in the Netherlands. It suits me. Everyone is very direct, and so am I. This was a positive surprise. I’ve always travelled and never really put down any roots, but I’m starting to feel differently now. One of the first things I did when I arrived here was to find a dance school to learn tango. I just love it. There’s a dance event going on every single evening. I also think it’s important to take your place in society, know what’s going on in the Netherlands, how the politics work and have an opinion.” Manizha has a good grasp of Dutch too. “It was easy for me because I’d already learned Swedish and a bit of German. I’m obsessed with language and always want to learn it as best I can.”
Name: Manizha Kodiri
Place of birth: Asht, Tajikistan
Year of birth: 1988
Motto: ‘There’s always a bright side to everything‘
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.