From Johannesburg to The Hague – the expat who moved for love

This week I chat to Sherika Rooplal, who moved from South Africa to The Netherlands to be with her Dutch boyfriend who she met on Tinder – yes, wonderful success stories do exist (I met my husband on Twitter – another case of love found on the internet). Here Sherika chats about living in The Netherlands.

How old are you and where about do you live?

I’m 32 years old and living in Den Haag (The Hague)

When did you emigrate?

In March this year – I flew in a day before the borders closed so I got here when everything was pretty much in lockdown

Where did you live before The Netherlands? 

I’m a born and bred Joburg girl – I lived my whole life in Jozi in the same house with my family for my entire life before moving here ūüôā

Why did you choose The Netherlands?

My boyfriend is Dutch so I came here for love. We matched on Tinder (yes, Tinder!) three years ago while he was in South Africa on holiday – we kept in contact and chatted everyday for a year – I planned a Euro trip and he decided to meet me in Barcelona and thats when we made our relationship ‘official’. Then for two years we met up with each other in Paris, SA and the NL. We both decided to take things further as the long distance was becoming too difficult and I moved over. He has kids (2 boys ages 8 and 11) hence why I came over

Tell us a bit about where you live.

The Hague is known as the city of Peace and Justice as it houses the Dutch government. The city is also home to the UN’s International Court of Justice, and the International Criminal Court. It also happens to be along the North Sea coast so it has a beach. Another way to describe it is – if Amsterdam were Joburg, then The Hague is Pretoria. Its’ a great mix of city and beach life.

What was the most challenging part of your relocation?

Moving during Corona! Not knowing if and when the borders would close was very stressful

What have been your most useful resources here?

Facebook groups 100%. The Girl Gone International and South Africans in The Netherlands groups were very helpful in terms of finding useful info as well as meeting new friends. Living with a Dutchie has been a tremendous help too of course

Aside from people, what do you miss most about SA?

The food! SA has world-class restaurants

What do you love most about NL?

The freedom of being able to move around as a woman. Also the variety in terms of the fashion/ beauty brands

What work do you do?

I’m a digital marketing specialist currently on sabbatical. It’s been a challenge to find work so I’m on the lookout for a new opportunity.

What are your new favourite foods?

I’m a lover of chips and bread so the NL is heaven for me as I havent met frites (fries) that I didnt love here yet and the variety of breads are incredible (sugar bread – yum!) also love krokets. I don’t eat meat so I find the vegetarian options in stores here really good.

How would you describe your bike-riding skills?

I didn’t know how to ride a bike before I left SA so had to learn from scratch. After about 6 hours I was able to cycle (relatively straight) ¬†and I’m still getting used to riding around. Still get VERY nervous as it is very intimidating but getting there!

What do you love doing on weekends?

Going for walks in the park across my apartment, going to museums, eating out, traveling around the NL to see new cities and meeting new friends. I also love just walking through the city and stumbling across cool shops and restaurants

Do you speak Dutch, or are you going to start?

I know enough to get me around the shops and ordering in a cafe but I’m starting to self study now

Describe the Dutch in five words…

1. Forward – ¬†they are not afraid to ask you anything, 2. Helpful – they will go the extra mile to help you 3. Closed-off – it’s hard to break into the circle of Dutch people so my friends here are mostly other expats, 4. Chilled – they don’t worry much and are very relaxed in general. 5. Casual – the women wear little to no makeup and dress for comfort.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to come and live in NL?

Do it! It’s a wonderful country that is efficient, organised and beautiful. Keep an open mind and go with the flow.


To follow Sherika and her Dutch adventure, you can find her on Instagram here.

Are you a South African woman and would like to be featured here, along with some of your pics? If so, comment below, or email me here.

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  • Denise Kemp

    3 November 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I love reading why people have moved to NL and how they are getting on there.

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