I’m Jessica from the United States and my husband and I moved to Amsterdam in the fall of 2014 to pursue our dream of living in Europe!
1. Why did you move abroad?
When I was a teenager, my grandparents took me to Europe. I loved it. It was something that stuck with me for years until I went on a college class trip with my (now) husband and he fell in love with it too. We spent years figuring out how to make it happen and then we finally made the leap across the Atlantic!
2. How do you make a living?
My husband and I both have jobs, but I want to create my own company one day so I can work for myself and have a more flexible life. I’d love to help expats with their transition to their new country.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Yikes! I don’t communicate with home as much as I should. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging when I talk about how much I love my life here and a lot of times my friends and family don’t have a lot to say.
When I do chat with them, it’s usually over Google Hangouts since I have a U.S. phone number through it which allows you to call anyone in the U.S. for free! But sometimes it’s through Skype.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Amsterdam?
All of the opportunities to do something! Seriously, with so many museums, festivals, social groups, markets, etc, there’s always something to do. I live my life so differently here, I’m always out and about!
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Amsterdam?
There will always be things you can’t get used to...mainly it’s the weather for me. Winter is Amsterdam feels like a test. It’s as if you are rewarded with a beautiful summer if you suffer through the cold, wet, and windy winter.
6. What do you miss most?
Being connected. I was one of those people that was very involved in town. I loved walking down the street and a cop friend would pull over to say hi. Or running into mayor at a restaurant. Or volunteering for events downtown. I miss feeling comfortable and welcomed everywhere.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Basically, I did three things. The first was Meetup.com where we made some amazing friendships. The Yelp community is awesome in Amsterdam since everyone is about connecting and trying new places. And we joined a wine club where we met a lot of great people and now that’s branched out and now there’s a dinner club.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I’m a hugger, but they do three-kisses as a greeting here. It’s not weird on its own, it’s just hard for me to remember to do it when I’m going in for a hug!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
The biggest myth is that the Netherlands is just another name for Holland! Like the United States has fifty states, the Netherlands has twelve provinces. Only two of them have “Holland” in them--North Holland and South Holland. Amsterdam is in North Holland.
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?
Definitely higher...and the income is less. And yet somehow we still live better than in the United States! I think it has to do with many things but part of it is that we don’t pay for a car (and all that goes with it), and health insurance is cheaper and going to a doctor and getting medicine doesn’t empty the pockets. Also, there’s more to do for free with all the outdoor festivals.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
You have got to find your tribe. Make friends and it will make all the difference in the world. And try to learn the language! It might be hard at first, but it will make life a lot easier later on.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started A Wanderlust for Life about three years ago, but really focused on it once we moved--a year and a half ago. I started it for a few reasons. The main reason was to keep friends and family at home informed. But also to help other expats because it’s not the easiest thing to do. We would have taken all the help and advice we could get when we came across a blog! Lastly, it’s also for me, to remember what I do and to push me to explore more, and analyze life more.
Jessica's blog, A Wanderlust for Life
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