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It feels like you are at home

24 november 2022

He is from Turkey but once lived in Siberia. That experience helped him to build a life in the Netherlands. As a language lover, it was very natural for Kubilay Süslü (52) to learn Dutch. Since his arrival, he has also discovered another passion, because he likes to go out by bike in the Brabant woods.

How did you get here?
“In October 2019, I travelled to the Netherlands as a political refugee. I eventually ended up in Valkenswaard through an asylum seekers' center. I live there now and I like it very much.”

How did you come into contact with STE Languages?
“At the asylum seekers centre, volunteer teachers helped me learn Dutch. Unfortunately, this came to a halt due to the COVID 19 pandemic. I then started looking, via COA, for a language institute in the region. STE Languages was soon mentioned and that's where I went. During the intake, I was kindly received and that was a nice introduction.”

What is your overall impression of STE?
“The staff is very friendly and the training is of a high quality. Just as important is the atmosphere; it feels like you are at home. At STE I found exactly what I was looking for.”

Why is it important for you to learn Dutch and what do you want to achieve?
"I want to find a good job. Once I was an English teacher, later I worked for state television, but now it's time for something new. I don't know exactly what yet, but hopefully in the direction of international business. I speak Turkish, Russian, English and I am now working on Dutch. I hope to be able to help companies with those four languages.”

So were a language teacher yourself. Can you tell more about that?
“Yes, of course. I worked as an English teacher for a while. That was not in Turkey, by the way, but in Siberia. Thousands of kilometers from home and therefore a complete culture change. I love language and like to share it with others; learn and teach.”

You have followed several group training courses. Can you tell us about your learning experiences?
“Our group always consisted of between 8 and 10 people, from all over the world. From Yemen to the Dominican Republic and from Iraq to Cameroon. I gave a presentation in each group. The language level kept getting higher and that was reflected in my presentations. When I watch my first presentation now, it is now very easy for me.”

What is your favorite Dutch word or expression?
"I would choose the word 'chagrijnig' (grumpy/sulky). Not because of the meaning, but because of the pronunciation. That word sounds so special!”

Do you have any tips for new students?
'Speaking, listening, reading and writing a lot: you have to do it all to really learn a language. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. It's not your native language, so we have to make mistakes to learn.
I also have a tip for STE. I now take lessons twice a week, but I would also like to spend an hour a week at a language cafe. That is a good way to practice speaking skills. We also do that during training, but a lesson is over in no time.”

How is daily life in the Netherlands?
“Very good. I am a social person and I easily make contact with others. It also helps that, as I said, I lived in Siberia for a while. As a result, I learned to build a life abroad. That helps me a lot. I know people who have lived in the same city in Turkey all their lives and are now in the Netherlands. It's a lot harder for them. It is also good in Valkenswaard. Valkenswaard is not that big, but not too small either. There is a library, a cinema, a theater and shops. It is safe and quiet there. There are many woods in the area where you can enjoy cycling.”

Do you ever experience cultural differences between Turkey and the Netherlands?
“In small Dutch villages, everyone says ‘hello’ to each other. I really had to get used to that. Sometimes it also happened that someone passed me and looked at me with a smile. Then I thought: hey, do I know you? Later, I understood that this was just out of politeness. Eating sandwiches is also typically Dutch. Both at breakfast and at lunch, that was really new for me. And then there is the cycling. I am now 52 years old. The first 50 years of my life I cycled about 1,000 kilometers, the last 2 years about 10,000 kilometers!”

What will your life look like in ten years?
“Then I be speaking perfect Dutch, still living in Valkenswaard and have a nice job. I will also be cycling a lot more and enjoying life.”