Two years ago I arrived in Amsterdam with a huge suitcase ready to start my expat life. On arriving in my new home, Michiel had a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for me. I did the honours, though as you can see from these beautiful images, It was difficult to get into. Two years on, and my love affair with Amsterdam still isn’t over. Of course there have been times where the journey has been difficult, but others which totally make up for it. I want to look back over the best, and worst of the last two years and share my ups and downs with you.
The worst stuff
When I first arrived, finding a job was really difficult. I’m not fluent in any other language except English, and I have always worked in media-related jobs. To keep myself sane, I started a communications internship, until five months after arriving, I finally scored a job.
When my uncle got cancer and died the week before I was due to go and visit, I found it very hard, and really missed home as a result. I kept thinking, what if something else happens and I miss saying goodbye. I just wanted to be in two places at once. Here is a beautiful picture of him:
Making new friends has been difficult. Especially within the expat crowd, as what usually happens is at some point they decide to go home, or move to another country again.
Dealing with Dutch administration. Getting my passport stamped with an official document to say I was a european citizen took me four attempts, despite the woman on the phone telling me she had never heard of anyone being refused. Turns out, you can’t just have an e-mail saying that you’ve ordered health insurance. You have to actually have money coming out of your bank.
Getting broken into was horrible. We had to make it feel like home again afterwards. It took me a while to feel safe again, but now I’m happy (and we’re moving soon anyway!)
Missing home comforts. Salad cream, cheddar, bisto and proper sausages to be precise. Thankfully Marks and Spencer opened this year, so I was a very happy bunny.
The best stuff
I had started blogging as a way to show my family and friends what I was getting up to, and sometimes I wrote a lot, and other times I just ignored it. It would all depend on how much energy I had, and as it turns out, I worked a lot of overtime at my job in order to get everything done – my blog was taking a back seat. I wasn’t happy about it, and decided to leave my job, to really focus on writing. It paid off. I found a blogging conference in Rotterdam, where I learnt so much. Then I got to go on a press trip in Amsterdam. This was a real turning point for me.
Getting to go behind the scenes at the Van Gogh Atelier!
Going to the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum
Living in such a beautiful city
Learning Dutch to a level that I understand what’s going on around me.
My blog getting me writing work.
Finding a part-time job, so I am able to work on my blog, and as a writer on my days off.
If at first you don’t succeed, get a Dutch person to help you. Michiel has helped me so much in the last two years it’s unreal. From figuring out what I needed to do to register with the authorities, to coming with me to set up my business. I wouldn’t have been able to navigate it all without him.
You don’t need to speak Dutch here, but it really helps!
Get used to the ‘Dutch way’ for everything. Whether it’s moving house, or telling you how it is, just deal with it.
You can’t be in two places at once. Accept it and move on.
Persist with Dutch. The waiters will almost always reply to you in English, but ignore it and carry on in Dutch.
My most popular posts over the last two years
How to avoid the queues at the Van Gogh museum
My Kendo class
A look at Amsterdam Gay Pride 2012
My Sushi workshop
Top 5 classic Dutch foods
Thanks for reading. It will be back to normal this week. I justb wanted to celebrate being in the Netherlands for two whole years! If you have learnt any valuable lessons from your time in the Netherlands I would love to hear about them. See you on Saturday