All too often, the negative sides of being an expat are written about, and of course you can’t pretend the journey is not always going to be easy. Since yeterday was International Women’s Day, and it has really resonated with me this year for reasons I will talk about a bit more later, I wanted to write a positive post about the things I love about being an expat woman in Amsterdam.
I have never really thought about International Women’s day until this year – the theme ‘inspire change’ combined with the fact that a year ago, my uncle died (which really inspired a big change for me) I decided it was time to write about the great stuff about being an expat. I also saw that Amanda from Expat life with a double buggy is doing a blog series in March and invited people to take part. I thought it was a great idea, though I can’t join in the whole month, as the subjects all involve children (which I don’t have)
This is a tribute to my uncle, who, when he was alive always asked ‘ are you happy?’ and if I ever said no, he told me to change something. I hope that this will inspire you to take a jump if you are thinking about becoming an expat.
I get to live in Amsterdam: And I think that this is awesome. It’s a small, friendly version of London, where I can cycle without being scared. It’s beautiful, there’s a lot going on, there’s always something new to discover, and I never get bored. That, and I can eat pancakes whenever I want and nobody judges me.
Dutch people: I love them. There are so many differences between Dutch culture and British culture, and they have their little quirks and ways that just make me chuckle. For example, being brutally honest is the polar opposite to the polite, sensitive British way of saying things. Out here, if you’ve put on weight, you’ll know about it straight away, and it isn’t because the Dutch are trying to be rude, they would rather be honest.
I am learning a whole new language: While this is challenging, it has always been on my list – granted, it isn’t as widely spoken across the world, but it means that I can interact with other Dutch people and they really like it because I am making an effort. When I go home with Michiel we have our very own secret language (apart from when we were in KL, and a Malaysian guy was in fits of laughter over a conversation I was having with Michiel. He told us he could understand, damn!)
New experiences: Simple everyday things are always different when it isn’t your home country and I love that. I think it’s great that these new experiences keep cropping up, even though I’ve lived here for more than two years now. When we moved last year, I was surprised to find out that we had to paint and put in the flooring for our new apartment despite the fact that we are renters, and not buyers. Michiel told me, that’s just how it is here when you move in to a brand new building.
Who knew I would end up ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam?
Meeting people from all over the world: This is really fun because when you’re an expat you meet so many people in the same boat as you – and you become friends because of it. There are so many meetups out there, that you’re bound to meet people who have the same interests as you.
How about you, what are your favourite things about being an expat in a different country? Have your experiences been different?