Leaving Amsterdam, thoughts on life in the Netherlands


Tea selfportrait with tulips

It's been quite a ride for the past two years. Plenty of emotional downs, way more than ups I must say, or maybe it just feels that way cos I've been focusing on the bad for too long. It brought me to the point I'm not sure in anything I want anymore and to the point where my fears overtook my ambitions. All I can rely on are my childhood dreams. They are the closest thing to the ambitions I had before I lost myself, right? On the other hand, I can't complain. I had a comfortable life. A job, a job in this crazy time when so many people lost that security, a nice apartment I never had to worry about and a group of friends I could rely on in all situations.

I'm far from being the most sociable person. Making friends was HARD. I'm not sure how long did it exactly take to get to the point when I felt comfortable asking someone to hang out, but trust me, it took over 6 months. Once I felt comfortable, got closer and was able to talk more openly to the people who let me into their life, the entire "starting life over" thing became easier. The moment you can talk to someone (other than your partner) about all the good, the bad, the daily things that surround you, your past, present and future you stop feeling tied to the life you once had. Those people I get to call friends are some of the sweetest, most honest, trustworthy people in my life. Even tho we didn't get to spend too much time together they have a very special place in my heart. I'm so grateful for them and I hope they know how much I love them.

Finding a job was pretty easy. I moved there in October, had to wait for a month to get my BSN and then two more weeks to start working. Once I started I worked for the same company to the day I left the country. Starting to work as soon as you get to a new place is the best possible thing to do. It gets you in a routine, puts you out there amongst people. My team was slightly scary in the beginning. It had a lot of bold personalities so it took some time to start feeling comfortable but once I did I really enjoyed going to work, meeting those people daily and talking to them. I enjoyed listening to their stories and since we were such an international bunch I got to know wonderful people from all around the world and get some insight into their culture.


Tea selfportrait with tulips angled

As a hospitality/retail worker you get to experience people in their rawest form. I'm not sure if people are like this everywhere in the world as this was my first time working in retail. I worked with people back in Croatia and my experience there was complete opposite (except one woman that treated all students as her slaves ). The level of disrespect, ignorance, lack of basic manners people in Amsterdam present is unbelievable. Racism, trash-talking... the list could go on. The amount of hate and anger they bring in me is incomparable to anything else I've ever felt. The sweetest moments would be when they'd complain in the queue for the fitting room about us not speaking Dutch ( they'd do it in a rude, maniac way, causing a scene - look we're all new here, give us a chance ) and then to the next person you talk in Dutch, the basic level you know, but still better than nothing, and that Karen, let's call her Karen so I don't have to be rude, would stay in shock. Little victories. But in general, they'd trash talk about you if you don't allow them in the fitting room with their 16-year-old daughter, cos she's a baby and can't dress herself on her own, but that little 8-year-old girl that came with her dad is perfectly capable of doing it on her own, or those two primary school girls that are shopping! on! their! own!!  Needless to say, people like that would bring multipe co-workers to tears. That is not how you treat any being, ever, no matter what! My partner who is working with "corporate" crowd never had such an experience (ofc) and he thinks they are alright, but none of them are his friends. (Wink, wink.)

I've talked to some other expats from different fields about their general opinion and we mainly agree that people born in the Netherlands we encountered are cold, arrogant, selfish, spoiled, whilst people who aren't originally from there are much friendlier, more inviting, warmer, hard workers. Not everyone is like that of course, there are some hard-working, sweet and friendly people. But in my two years there it was 8/10. Also, I had to get it out of me, sorry whomever it hurt, writing here is my way of therapy. 

Fruits and vegetables. Oh my oh my. I'm writing this post at 2am, I couldn't sleep and I felt the urge to write. Before opening the laptop I checked what's going on on Facebook. The newest post in a "Croatians in the Netherlands" group was people asking is it only them or do fruit/vegs/meat absolutely suck. Let me answer that, like everyone else in the comment section, they do. A lot. You'd think as you're going more western that the fresh produce is better but guess not. Everything tastes like water. Tomatoes with a stem are the only ones tasting somewhat like a tomato. The meat I cannot judge but take it from all those carnivores. As someone who grew up on the countryside eating homegrown, this was such a disappointment. You get used to it after some time, there's nothing you can do about it (other than plant your own if you have space).
One thing about food that I absolutely love is that every bar offers french fries and/or other snacks, nachos with cheese. There's nothing nicer when you're outside, drinking beers, getting tipsy and than ordering some food and snacking on it. 

Another thing I'll miss is how easy it is to split the bill with your friends with just a few clicks in your banking app or in general paying for anything with iDeal. iDeal is a payment service that redirects the payment process to your banking app, it takes you to it automatically or you need to scan a QR code if you're doing it on a computer. Forget entering your credit card information. It's such a time saver. They should market themselves to the entire European Union, I don't know what they're waiting for. 

DigiD also, it's digital identification for all government services. Once you make an account you use it for everything you need. Registration (change of address), deregistration, taxes, applying for benefits... Everything is just a few clicks away. The bureaucracy is very organized and in general not too stressful. When you need to fill out tax return for your first year there you get a big booklet in your mailbox which is quite intimidating, but once you're past that everything is straight forward. And if you're not the biggest fan of talking on the phone, most of the things you can do via e-mail. 

The architecture is absolutely stunning. I could walk around the city, go from one end to the other for days and not get sick of it. It's very picturesque and pleasant to explore on foot or cycling. As the day to leave was approaching I had the thought that I'm not gonna be able to take the metro and walk around the canals whenever I feel like it ever again. That part of living there I'll miss. Maybe not for too long as our new home is much bigger and has much more to offer. But the safety, being able to walk home alone in the middle of the night, or take the bus drunk and on my own and get home without ever feeling threatened is something a bigger city doesn't usually offer. 

Weather, I almost forgot to mention that. For six months straight you forget what blue sky looks like and what sun feels like on your skin. The other half is pretty and green.

In the past two years I grew a lot. I've learned a lot. Shrunk in some fields, got hurt and built some walls. But I'm leaving this chapter of my life richer for some life lessons, experiences, friendships and acquaintances I'll cherish for my entire life. 

I started this post on a quite negative note, I had to get it all out of me as it was something that gave me negative feelings I couldn't let go of. This new chapter is right now filled with excitement, optimism and belief in a better future, no matter how hard and unforeseeable the times are.

Tea selfportrait with tulips 2

Thank you for reading if you managed this far. I'd like to know your experiences and feelings when it comes to moving to a completely new surrounding so please feel free to leave it in the comments or message me directly on Instagram or any other social media platform. 


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