From California to the Netherlands: AMSTERDAMP

Published 2013-12-30 10:25:51

amsterdamp No, I'm not blonde, far from it.  Nevertheless, I am from California and have spent most of my life on the beach and drinking smoothies and recycling and driving around in my convertible and basically doing all the things that you think people in California do.

Somewhere in between studying photography and working in the games industry, I met my partner at my front door (Harrison House (HH) ).  We finished school in California and  have been living in Amsterdam and Sausalito together ever since.

1. Why did you move abroad?
For love, of course.  I met my husband in California where he was doing a year of study abroad.  He invited me to come live with him in Amsterdam when I graduated from art school.  I had already been to Holland and loved it.  I knew I wanted to live in Amsterdam someday, but I had gone home to finish school, so when he asked me it was perfect and I said YES!

2. How do you make a living?

I work for myself.  I had a practice for Massage and Healing for almost 10 years called Acupressure Massage Therapy.  I have since changed my business name to incorporate a broader range of services and topics.  Hence, California Girl (CG) was born in 2011.  I am now working as a photographer & writer on assignment and I will return to giving healing sessions in 2014.

I am also expanding by blog and I will offer information about the California Lifestyle which is based on organic, healthy living, lots of exercise, higher consciousness, open mindedness, film, photography, new media, beach life, retreats, alternative medicine, beauty, fashion, food, travel as well as a web shop, workshops and with enough interest, I will resume my Zen 2 Zumba classes.

My healing techniques are based in Chinese Medicine and I also do Feng Shui Design, which incorporates the same principles about how to move energy.  I am fascinated with energy, whether working with it in a session, photographing it in my images, moving it in dance, singing it in song or managing it in the body or home.  Keeping your energy clear will always serve you well.  I am invested in teaching this to others for optimal health and vitality.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?

I communicate regularly with my mother from California, usually via telephone or email.  Some of my family is on Facebook, others on Instagram, some on What’s App.  I do my best to communicate in whatever way possible; otherwise it is easy to feel disconnected from loved ones so far away.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Amsterdam?
I love the freedom of this place, e.g. lack of censorship, liberal attitudes, fair politics with regard to your rights and the idea that “alles kan in Amsterdam” (Everything is possible in Amsterdam.)  Combine this sense of freedom with a very stabilized and organized social system that ensures health and education for all of their citizens and you have an excellent base to raise a family and to live an open, free, yet safe, lifestyle.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Amsterdam?

It is hard sometimes here to get used to how cold everything is, the temperatures can be frigid and the people are not warm and friendly like in some countries.  However, they are very loyal and true.  It may take a lot longer, sometimes years, to truly become friends with a Dutch person, but once you are, it is forever.  They are not a frivolous people, very sober, but true, kind, and usually fair.  As for the weather, well, people don’t come here for the weather.  I am now fond of how fresh the air always is and how beautiful the clouds in the sky.  I now understand the Dutch Masters and their big skies.

6. What do you miss most?

I miss the mountains, the ocean and the forests of California, especially the beach.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
When I arrived here, I first started working at UPC.  It was an English speaking broadband cable company and so I met a lot of Expats.  I also met a lot of Dutch people through my husband, so I had the best of both worlds.  As an Expat, it is sometimes difficult to break into the very set “circles” that the Dutch people have, many since childhood, but since I was married to a Dutchman that was not as big of an issue for me.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The fact that I was expected to do everything on a bike, even in the pouring rain. This was shocking for a California Girl that normally sped around in a convertible all of the time.  Also, they eat the same thing for breakfast as for lunch, which is a variety of cheese and meat sandwiches.  I had a hard time finding a salad at lunchtime anywhere in the city.  (This has changed now though.)  People still think I am weird for not eating bread or cheese, or potatoes for that matter.  

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?

Going Dutch.  In the States this means sharing a bill 50/50.  Actually, the Dutch will each take turns buying rounds of drinks for all.  That is what Going Dutch means.  They are a frugal though.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?

Well, it depends.  Food is more expensive in California than here. Clothing can be cheaper in the States. Housing is easier to obtain, well in 1999 anyway.  We were able to buy our own home simply by showing a work contract. I never would have been able to buy a home right of college in the States without first having to save for a huge down payment.  That was a big plus for me.  

11. What advice would you give other expats?
I would say to get a bike right away and get into the flow of the lifestyle. Learn Dutch because even though everyone speaks English, your quality of life improves immensely. People take you seriously and it is a lot easier to maneuver.  

Find your own people.  Take classes and meet people who like the same things as you do. Right now I am taking a singing class and it is a bit awkward sometimes because I am the only foreigner and I don’t always understand the instructions, but it is so fun to do what you love with other people that love it too.  I also taking salsa classes and that is a great way to have fun and meet people, especially for singles.

Recently, I also joined an International club that gathers doing various things all over town.  You can find and connect with people of your own country or even state.  I am always seeking Californians ;)

12. When and why did you start your blog? amsterdamp
I used to write a newsletter for my practice that was very popular. When I went on sabbatical I got the idea to write some of things that I used to share with my clients, like about food or events or other interesting tidbits I thought they might like. The blog grew from that idea.  Now it a lifestyle blog, but I am still focused on health & healing, good energy and fostering happiness.  

AMSTERDAMP has brought me a lot of opportunities and taught me about what I really love to do, which is to photograph and write.  I will be expanding it to include my photography portfolio and gallery, also available for purchase. 


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Author: texkourgan
Part of the adventure since 2008. Drink, Travel, Write

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