I'm wrapping up my first week as an Expat in Amsterdam. It's been a great experience so far. I think one of the main challenges of moving to another country is that you may not speak the language. Although Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, almost everyone speaks English fluently. That has certainly helped to ease the transition for us.
Also, the transportation options helped us to feel at home. We kept our OV-Chip Cards from our last visit. So all we had to do was reload and we could access the trams again. Trams are pretty much everywhere and they come often, perfect for getting around. There's also ride services, like Uber, which can get you where you need to go.
I spend lots of time behind a computer, and to be honest, not too much elsewhere. So imagine my surprise when we arrived at our temporary apartment and I saw the stairs...
I've made it to Amsterdam and look forward to the many wonderful experiences and challenges that lie ahead...starting with these stairs to my apartment 😥💪😂 #expat #AndroidDev pic.twitter.com/c3azhKi22n
— Annyce Davis (@brwngrldev) January 3, 2018
Now apparently, steep, winding stairs is just a thing that is very common here. My first time up those three flights of death-defying stairs I had to sit down and take a break. But now that I've been up and down a few times, I'm good. Being in shape here seems like it will come without much extra effort. Who can complain about that?
Another thing that baffled us initially was just buying milk. The Dutch have tons of milk options at the grocery store. We mistakenly bought Buttermilk (Karne melk) instead of Skim Milk (Halfvolle melk) twice! We laughed about it and then got it right the next time. I think that's one of the best pieces of advice I have so far: laugh! You'll make mistakes. Someone will get smart with you. You won't know all the rules. Just laugh and enjoy this new adventure.
I had all of my documents prepared: Passports, Apostilled Birth Certificates and Marriage License; but I was still nervous. I just didn't want anything to go wrong and delay our start in the Netherlands. The International Center is where you have to go to get your Citizen Service Number (BSN) and work permits. It was surprisingly friendly. They had a nice play area for kids and they were extremely efficient with getting us all processed. Once you have your BSN and permit, you receive a bag of goodies. The most useful of which is the book that describes everything you need to know in order to make it your first month.
Apps I Love
As an Android Developer, I'm naturally obsessed with apps. There are three that have proved extremely helpful to me this first week. The first is Thuisbezorgd.nl, it lets you order food online from local restaurants. Now there's nothing especially novel about that. What's cool about this app however, is that I was able to connect it to my PayPal account. This helped me avoid making a trip to get some cash when I first landed.
Also, my ability to speak Dutch is trash at this point. I can't pronounce the names of things, especially streets. This app has helped me to avoid the extra stress for now. And I've discovered a great Indian restaurant in the process. The Chicken Madras is everything, try it if you can!
The second app is Rain Alarm. As the name implies, you get alerts for approaching rain. It rains randomly and often here. An alarm is a lifesaver. Finally, TransferWise has helped me to get my US money into my newly acquired Dutch Bank account with extreme ease and reasonable rates.
Besides finally meeting my daily step goal, I've been enjoying the amazing food! It's my first week, so I'm indulging for sure. I've had a wonderful salmon salad, yummy pastries, and delicious lattes at various cafes.
Have you ever moved to a new country? If so, leave your favorite tips in the comments!