Research Social Networks of new Amsterdam citizens
Interview with Silvia Venturini
MixTree Languages by telephone on November 18th 2020
MixTree started in 2014. In 2015 they moved to the OT301 as a cultural initiative for young foreign people in Amsterdam organizing cultural events of all sorts. For an extremely mixed group (in the sense of countries, work, etc.) being “Far away from Home” to give them “a Feel at Home”.
English is the common language of the newcomers in Amsterdam, so for MixTree it was a logical step to start English language courses. MixTree now is a non-profit language school for English, with still social and cultural events as an important part. Although since corona the last almost came to a standstill.
After the OT-years MixTree moved to Broedplaats Lely, next to the railway and underground station Lelylaan.
This spring, also because of the corona, MixTree left the Lely and moved to the Weteringplantsoen, in the centre of Amsterdam. Where they cooperate with ALX, the Amsterdam Language Experience: English courses for foreign students of the universities.
With their slogan: “Enjoy the City and socialize more easily”
So MixTree started at the OT301 on the Overtoom, In the hip, young and gentrifying Old West.
Than to Broedplaats Lely, a place of international artists and refugees; in the very mixed New West with many non-white and poor migrant people in the neighboorhood.
And now on the Weteringcircuit, in the heart of expensive Amsterdam, with a lot of expats, business man and offices, like WeWork, around.
1. Are all the students of the language school newcomers in Amsterdam, that is: are living in Amsterdam since less than 5 years?
2. Can you give a rough number of students you have in a year
350 – 400
3. Can you give a rough estimation (in %) from which part of the world they come: South Europe, East Europe, rest of the EU, outside EU (China, Japan, Russia)
South European (Spanish, Italian, also French)
From outside EU: Russian and Ukrainian woman of expats, Japanese expats and Brazilian workers, expats and partners of expats.
Small amount of refugees, mainly Syrian.
In the Lely, because of this location is in New West, also people with a Turkish, Moroccan and Afghan background attended the school.
In the new location in the Centre, also Dutch people come, mainly for business courses
4. Can you give a rough estimation (in %) of there age (18-27 and older than 27)
Mainly 20 up; between 20 and 30 years old.
Some people leave at 27 but not so many.
5. Can you make a rough estimation (in %) of their ‘position’ in Amsterdam:
artist - creative industry;
working in offices, business, trade;
banking, assurance, finance and the like;
People with work mainly; looking for work, students, expats
No people from arts, creative industries, platform economy, etc because they are mostly selected to speak English. But partners of these people come to MixTree
6. Do you have any insight how and where they live?
a rough estimation where they live, both in sort of housing (student housing; short stay - long stay accommodation like Student Hotel / Clink / Hotel Jansen / etc); friends contracts in free sector rent houses; otherwise.
in which part of the city (North, East, Southeast, etc) or outside Amsterdam.
MixTree have also 1 month and 6 week courses.
A lot of students are in Amsterdam looking for work and stay in hostels (Stayokay, Clinck, etc) hotels or other short stay accommodations. So for these students Mixtree is one of their first steps in Amsterdam and some of them stay just a few months in Amsterdam.
Housing, to find a place to live, is the most difficult thing in Amsterdam.
They live around the Lely in New West, North, all over the city and outside as well.
7. Does everyone wants to leave Amsterdam after a certain period?
What is the average time in years they want to stay; different for different groups?
Does a part of your students wants to stay? Can you make a rough estimation (in %) of how big this group is?
or is there also a group of people who doesn’t know yet?
See under 6. Many students are in Amsterdam for a short period.
From 1-3 months to 2-3 years.
Very dependent on finding work; the work contract or the contract of the partner. Or the kind of study they do: short master of complete master; special research period.
South Europeans stay longer.
I don’t know if our students want to stay longer in Amsterdam.
Students with many Dutch friends or a Dutch partner stay longer.
Students from Turkey and Syria and Dutch students mostly stay in Amsterdam permanently
Do your students just want to learn English or is there a (big?) part of your students who also wants to socialize?
Many students are totally new in Amsterdam. They don’t know anyone. They choose Mixtree because of the diversity of our students, the mix of countries and background of our students. They consciously choose for Mixtree and not for groups of the same country or background. So for them Mixtree is also important to socialize/ make social contacts.
9. Do you hear about experience with socializing in Amsterdam?
with people from the same country, study or office? With other foreigners? with mixed groups of foreigners and Dutch people? With Dutch people?
by visiting cultural events, pub/ publife, restaurants, sports, religion, parks, just chilling at each others, etc
Students choose Mixtree for the diversity of countries and background of our students.
No idea what kind of social activities they organize outside Mixtree
10. Are the courses you give of great importance for the socializing of the students? In the sense of: students make a lot of contacts with each other; intensive whatsapp and social media contacts; social meetings around the courses; students who do things together outside the courses
Students form all kinds of groups. Also now, in corona time, a lot of groups are formed. They communicate by skype, whatsapp, FB, etc. I don’t know what they do together.
11. Until the Covid-19 you had a great experience with organizing social and cultural events.
Do you have any idea if that helped people by making social contacts in Amsterdam; forming new groups, new networks?
Our social events were great and successful. It must have helped a lot of people in socializing. But the way that worked, I don’t know.
Now with corona and without a place of our own to organize social events, it’s very difficult.
People now socialize around our courses; through the interactive way we work, the (online) meetings around the courses, the groups the students form. We’ll see how we will organize social events in the future.
Amsterdam, 2020 November 23rd