Amsterdam is an amazing city. It’s old, beautiful, cultured, and filled with friendly people.
(Yes, that idea that the Dutch are rude is NOT true!)
Moving to an international city can really be a shock for someone who lived on a mountain for her childhood, went to a tiny college and then worked in a town of 40,000 people. So, with all of this change and with all the differences in culture, language and customs, what have I learned?
First of all, I think all of these lessons can be learned regardless of which country you move to. It’s really about being pushed outside of your comfort zone. You will adjust and be tested, but it’s all part of the experience.
Everything is new
Even the everyday things like going to the post office or popping by the grocery store is new. You won’t know the system, you might only have cash but they only take pin cards. Or you might have to figure out where a post office is since they don’t have a government building like in the U.S. So don’t be so hard on yourself. You are learning everyday.
Language is hard
The best advice I have heard is to stay consistent. Use Duolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone, or any of the other apps, websites, and YouTube channels out there. In your new country, watch the television and simply listen. It was recommended to me to watch kids shows too since they use simpler sentences.
Considering where I grew up I think of myself as very open-minded, but there are still judgements that I have that have no place in Amsterdam. The government here mostly takes a stance that if you aren’t hurting others, then they aren’t going to worry about it. But also, there are so many different kinds of people here. Various religions, sexual orientations, races, languages, etc. Everyone is just living their life. So let them.
Put yourself out there
I hear about so many expats who move home in a year because they haven’t made friends and they don’t feel a connection to the city. People aren’t going to flock to you to include you if they don’t know who you are! I have a whole post on how to make friends as an expat, but it’s more than that. Volunteer, go to festivals, talk to the people at your local coffee house. Get involved in whatever way feels comfortable for you.
This city has taught me to be me. No matter who you are, what you want out of life, if you want to hang out with people from your country or what to make friends from all over the world, you can do that.
It’s impossible not to grow when living abroad. It takes time and patience and isn’t easy when you realize that you are trying to juggle two very different lives. Every person you meet, every job you take, and move you make will teach you, challenge you, and inspire you in some way. Embrace it!
Have you had a big move that taught you something about yourself? We’d love to hear your story! Leave us a comment to share.