My name is Claire and I’m from the UK. I left the UK in May 2014 before moving to the beautiful city of Amsterdam which I currently call home.
1. Why did you move abroad?
When I decided to leave the UK I had been running my own vintage shop for around four years and whilst it was an amazing experience it wasn’t always easy to find time to travel. I knew I wanted a change from the UK and having always felt at home in Madrid moving there was an easy decision to make. I fell in love with city: the sunshine, the slower pace of life, the people, the food the wine… but had also recently fallen for a Dutch guy. After a bit of back-and-forthing between Amsterdam and Madrid (& Stockholm), I decided to make the move back to the rainy skies of Northern Europe .
2. How do you make a living?
I currently work as a web editor for on online travel company, based in the centre of Amsterdam. Travel and writing are my passion and I am fortunate that there is an element of this in my job. The company is very international (it is a travel company after all) so you hear different languages in the lift every morning and get to know a lot of different people from all over the world.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I try and call my grandmother every weekend using skype to call her landline (she’s in her 80’s so doesn’t have a computer, let alone skype). My mother recently installed WhatsApp so we stay in touch with that and the occasional phonecall or email.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?
I get to live in Amsterdam which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, you can’t beat cycling to work along the canals every day. It’s also a very international city so there are lots of expats who are in the same boat as you when it comes to making friends, figuring out Dutch systems etc so that really helps.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in the Netherlands?
Not being able to read my own post, although it is kind of fun having boyfriend turned PA to help me with such endeavours.
6. What do you miss most?
Being close to my friends and family, especially when there are birthdays and new babies! Fish and chips too!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
As I mentioned before i work in a big international company so that has been a great way to meet people. I think you’ve just got to be as open as you can - I even made a friend in the street when I was lost on my first day here!
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Zwarte Pete (if you haven’t heard of him a simple google search should do the trick)! I just can’t get my head round it
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That you don’t need to speak Dutch to live there. Whilst their level of English is incredible and there are plenty of people who don’t speak Dutch it makes life difficult when it comes to thing like tax return, health insurance etc.
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?
I’d say the cost of living similar is similar to the UK, if you compare earnings in relation to rent, food etc. Madrid was a much cheaper place to live, especially when it comes to eating and out and going to bars, so I was out and about a lot more there but that’s also due to the weather and way of life there.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Just to embrace and accept the culture you’re living in and learn the basics of the language, I think it’s important to try to assimilate as much as you can. Having said this, making friends with other expats is also important as they really understand what you are going through.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog just before I moved to Madrid in May 2014. I’d always enjoyed writing and after leaving my business I wanted to make sure I still had a creative outlet. I’d had my own street style blog before and had started a blog for the business so it felt like the natural thing to do. I kept it personal for a while but continued to write and eventually put it out there in the public domain.
Claire's blog, I Wander & Roam
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