‘And so the adventure begins…’ over a year ago this was my first thought, when my boyfriend told me he got accepted for the new position in Amsterdam. We travel a lot and I can sometimes picture myself living in one of those amazing cities, but I never thought I would be leaving my favourite one (Vienna) for any of them.
Let me start of by saying: Amsterdam is amazing and so is living here. I never doubted that even when I just started taking the move into consideration. Not just focussing on the actual place, I have to say that my expectations, sentimentally, were quite different from that. My friends are my family and you never truly know how much you miss your family until you suddenly live far away from them (even though Amsterdam is only a two hour plane ride). Talk about a dilemma… but, since I always saw myself in more than one place and could not wait to start this adventure, I decided to focus on just the positive parts. Besides, I just finished university and did not yet have a job that would prevent me from leaving, what better timing could I have to start this new chapter in my life.
Amsterdam is a small (in size) city but packed with many (many) people and of course; bicycles. It is known for its overcrowded places, filled with people and bikes. That is (apart from the legal-illegal stuff) what makes this city famous and I can definitely get behind the great cycling exercise, since I love to cycle myself. No matter how bad the weather gets, you will always have a large number of bikes trying to get in your way, which makes walking through the busy streets (mainly in the city centre) quite intimidating for someone who is not used to bend their head a complete 180 degrees each time they want to change directions. This hectic atmosphere makes for a highly stressful morning (afternoon and evening… basically all day long). Even after adjusting to this lifestyle, I can sometimes still feel the stress it puts on my body. Amsterdam is small and busy… but well, that’s also what makes this city vibrant and charming. (It does make me understand why people move to the countryside when they get older)
Finding a job
This city is more welcoming to expats than most, I guess. Amsterdam outlines the word; international. No matter where you are from there will always be a demand for new faces. I believed the language barrier would be quite the struggle at first and I pressured myself to learn Dutch. Having German as mother tongue, learning casual Dutch and having casual conversations are not a big problem, but the business Dutch seems to be on a level of its own and is quite demanding for a non Dutch native. Luckily, this city speaks more English than Dutch anyway and since it is the home base of many international companies, it is very accommodating to other languages such as German.
My friends back at home can never be replaced. Like I told you; they’re family. But Amsterdam is a great place to meet new people. There are many expats as well as exchange student groups (Erasmus is actually Dutch) that you can join. You could also take yoga classes in your free time, talk to strangers in the pubs or on public transport and there are many other ways to meet new people. I can talk more about this in a future post, if you want me to.
Useful tips I learned along the way
These tips are especially for Amsterdam. I’ll do a moving tip post soon since this post is already getting quite long.
As I have experienced, when it comes to getting around the city, the metro does not seem to approach any of the important locations in the city (apart from Central Station). The metro still mainly rides around the city. Good thing that there is a new line opening up on the 22nd of July 2018. This new line will make its way through the city centre and many of the main areas but until then I suggest you use the tram or the bus. There is an app you can use to plan your journeys, called ‘9292OV’ but it is in Dutch.
A useful tip: the ferries from Central Station to the northern part of Amsterdam are free of charge (so there is no need to stamp your ‘ov-chipkaart’) and run day and night.
And last for all of you trying to learn Dutch: if you are trying to speak Dutch to someone and they hear that you are not from Holland, they will immediately switch to English. Don’t let this discourage you! This is not necessarily a bad sign, the people in Amsterdam are just used to speak English, thats all. When entering a shop or a restaurant/café in the city centre most people will start of by speaking English to you, no matter where you are from. They either assume you are a tourist or they just don’t speak Dutch themselves, because like I said; this is a very international city.