‘You can be at home anywhere’: Maaike travels the world with her family

Everyone should do it, says Maaike van Vliet. De Woerdense went abroad with her family in 2012. Initially for the experience, now she doesn’t want to go back to the Netherlands. “My children grow up with different cultures and languages, that’s wealth”.

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No more obligatory birthdays, on holiday in our own country and infinitely beautiful landscapes. When Maaike starts talking about the benefits of emigrating, you would almost pack up to look for adventure elsewhere. “I actually recommend that to you,” says Maaike on the phone from her current residence in Luxembourg.

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“Travel gives you an open mind. I notice in my children, now 15, 13 and 11 years old, that they can cope with changes much more easily. They also adapt quickly to their environment and look with an open mind because they grow up between different cultures because they go to international schools.”

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Maaike got tired of the long winters in Canada after five years Photo: own photo

To school in Canada Photo: own photo


Maaike got tired of the long winters in Canada after five years Photo: own photo

To school in Canada Photo: own photo

Together with their children, Maaike and Gerrit left Woerden in 2012. They sold house and hearth to build a new life across the borders. “We thought it would be cool to live abroad for the experience. It didn’t matter where.” In 2007, Maaike and Gerrit expressed their wish for the first time. “But then the economic crisis came and we had children.”


Five years later, the couple was in calmer waters and it started to itch again. Gerrit was able to work in Toronto, Canada through his old employer. “We didn’t have to think long. The offer came in May and in October we were without a house and without belongings on the plane.”

The family lived happily in Canada for years. “It is a fantastic country to live in. Of course you miss the people at home, but you also get used to it in a certain way. You build a whole new life.” She kept in touch with her family through Facetime.

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The children now saw Canada as their home. “My sister came by once with kale from the farmers market. We made stew out of it. My children looked very strange, they had never seen that before. They were obviously very young when we emigrated.”

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For the children of Maaike and Gerrit, Canada feels more like home than Woerden. Photo: own photo

Although the family is very happy with their choice to emigrate, there are certainly drawbacks to such a step, according to Maaike. “I see more advantages than disadvantages, but of course there are also these. You miss your certainties and your social safety net that we had in Woerden. The nursery where you know all the teachers and schools where you know the teachers. In another country you have to rediscover everything.”


In addition, Woerden is also a nice place. “You won’t easily find the atmosphere in Woerden anywhere else. In Canada everything is new and you have few historic buildings, all the streets are the same.” It is also not possible to have a coffee on a terrace. “We always went to Breuren to have a cup of coffee on the terrace for fun. That culture is not like that in Canada, there you have Tim Hortons. That is quite different. We missed that Dutch cosiness.”

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The family stays in Luxembourg for at least seven years Photo: Own photo

‘Misted’, because the family has been living in Luxembourg for a few years now. “Closer to the Netherlands, so you can visit your family faster and here you don’t have those long winters like in Canada. I was really tired of that.” Now the family can be found in the Netherlands a little more often. “It feels like coming home to Gerrit and me, it’s a holiday for the children. The eldest misses Canada, but luckily they quickly rebuild their lives in Luxembourg. In that respect, you can be at home anywhere in the world, as long as you are happy with your family.”


For now, the family will stay there. “We are very restless, I don’t know what our next step is. But now that our kids are in high school, we will stay here for at least 7 years. Then they can finish their schooling and then choose further education elsewhere if they want. That could be here in Luxembourg or perhaps in Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany. We’ll see what comes our way.”

Returning to Woerden for good is not on the agenda. “Maybe later in the distant future that we buy a holiday home there. The Netherlands is a nice country and Woerden is centrally located, but so far life as we have it is fine.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: home Maaike travels world family

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