Five years have passed by in Amsterdam and it is time to seek for another adventure. I have checked off graduating University on my life list, learned some languages, met so many interesting people and discovered myself. I cannot be more happy about my decision to study in Amsterdam. I feel like I have grown so much wiser, gained so much experience in all sorts of areas and am so much more open than I used to be. Even though I am happy i have lived here, I do think the city is not for me to settle down.
I decided to write some thoughts on Amsterdam, some prettier and some not so pretty, before leaving.
The good stuff.
It’s one hell of a culture pot.
This is probably the one thing I like the most about Amsterdam. There are so many different people living here and I think it is wonderful. It really opens your mind to see how other people think and see the world. One thing is that there are so many nationalities, but also so many colourful people with crazy life stories or lifestyles that I could not even imagine before. Amsterdam is kind of freeing and letting you be who you are.
The streets are a free flea market
The Dutch generously give away their used things that are in perfect condition. In little less developed countries, people would never be so generous and would just sell their old stuff. Here a perfect cupboard, super comfy couch or a beautiful dining table is no biggie to just give away. They just put it on the street and anybody can take it. According to my friend somebody has also left a MacBook, jeans with 100 euros and a kilo of marijuana. Not sure if that is kindness or just certain level of highness.
Need a job?
I can say it is not so difficult to find a job in Amsterdam if you don’t speak the local language unless you have really high standards. There are also many organisations helping people with finding a job. Statistics say that the Netherlands unemployment rate has decreased to 6% this year. And if nothing works out for you, you can always be a freelance bike stealer, drug dealer or just turn to the red lights.
Let’s go for a walk!
Walking around in Amsterdam is always interesting. Even if you lived here for a long time you still discover things that you have not seen before. I just recently discovered that there is an entire shop just selling rubber ducks and another one selling “The Pussy Pendant’s”, necklaces that look like women’s private parts. I haven’t seen anyone wear the last one, though.
Plus the city is just beautiful. You never get tired of the canals and the houses on them.
The not so good stuff but possibly can laugh about later?
Bikes come, bikes go.
I think I have bought around 6 bikes during my stay here. I might be even one of the lucky ones. Some people buy multiple bikes in a month. The first bike I bought was via a market website but the rest of them I bought through a bike junky. Since they are getting stolen so often it’s not worth to invest a lot of money on it. Often the bike locks cost more than the bike itself, trying to avoid getting your rusty piece of metal stolen.
My friend managed to keep the same bike for five years, though. It’s coloured bright red and just recently I thought that what a dumbass I have been that I have not painted my bike into some crazy colours because junkies don’t usually steal bikes that you can already notice from hundred meters. It’s much harder to sell them too. If you buy a stolen bike that’s painted neon green with some purple dots on it, for instance, the owner will right away notice it if you happen to run into him or her. Or you have to buy a paint and start repainting with takes more effort than just getting one with dull colours. So here’s a life lesson for living in Amsterdam. Make your bike look super sassy.
Biking in Amsterdam is a headache for the locals. Being pretty much a local person (could already get a citizenship), I have almost killed a dozen of tourists on my way or ringed my bell till my finger falls off. If you are a tourist and you come to Amsterdam you do need to look all the time where are the bike lanes. And also look both sides before crossing the road. And look once more just in case. And if you see a bike is coming exactly towards you and the biker is stressfully ringing the bell, please step aside you are clearly strolling on the bike bath.
Customer service to the max
When it comes to customer service in Amsterdam, it definitely needs improvement. A lot of tourists have been happy for their services and have told me that everybody in Amsterdam is so friendly. That’s actually true if you are a tourist and only encounter the people in the restaurants, hotels, small shops and so on. Many workers are not even Dutch but coming from much warmer countries and will naturally greet you with their warm smiles.
If you live here and don’t speak fluent Dutch you can expect a certain level of racism. In that case, the Dutch are pretty lazy to serve you. I had a kidney infection, it hurt like hell and the fever did not want to go down. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend’s kickass medicine cabinet and he’s care I would be doomed. I went to the hospital for help and the doctor claimed that I probably have a kidney infection. We already established that earlier thanks to google and some acquaintances. In order to make sure of my illness and find out which medication do I need specifically, I needed to take a urine sample, but the doctor could not find a cup. Not a single cup in the whole hospital???? Yeah, sure…
My friend went to the doctor and then the doctor started to google in front of him the possible diagnostics. Also whatever you have, just keep taking paracetamol, no worries.
90% chance to be homeless.
Finding a place to live is the most difficult thing in Amsterdam. Finding a place you actually like to live in is almost impossible. I have already written about this before that the demand is so much higher than the offer and unless you are a millionaire you have a huge disadvantage with finding a place. If you need a place start looking many many many many months in advance and watch out for scammers.
Obvious scammer alert: I am sorry, my dog died and so I am not in the country, but the apartment is very good so you can send me the money and I send you the keys. Not so obvious scam, but a true story: You visit the apartment a couple of times. You decide you like it. You sign a contract, receive the keys and finally turns out the keys only open the front door of the building but not the door for the apartment. And like magic the owner has disappeared. And since you don’t speak fluent Dutch the police is a little “busy” tonight.
In my opinion, the food is pretty bad here. All processed and nothing tastes fresh. This is probably why I started losing hair like a cancer patient and developed anaemia and most likely am missing five more very important ingredients from my body. The chicken tastes like it had diabetes, the cow smoked too much and the little piggy went to the wrong market. Finding good meat was the most challenging for me.
BUT! There are cheese and stroopwafels. Yummy, yummy in my tummy.
I will miss the city for sure, not every aspect of it, but it was still a nice experience. I’m glad I met Amsterdam!