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Amsterdam Thoughts

Again, it’s been a while! I’ve been doing well in procrastinating to write this, but finally here is another post – on my current likes, dislikes of the Netherlands.

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Likes:

  • The people. So far, I’ve had countless positive interactions with the Dutch! Although I’ve heard that they’re notoriously straightforward which is confronting for some, I haven’t actually experienced much of this. I’ve had great conversations with people in the most random of situations, e.g the woman who served me at immigration, to the ING man who also kindly told me that I couldn’t open a bank account because I was not registered in the city of Amsterdam (was scared I would be deported soon after), and just yesterday with a spice supplier at the local Turkish supermarket, where we discussed how his son was travelling to Australia!



    Also, people here are so approachable and helpful. For instance, the man who stood in the rain with me so that I could use his 4G, the customer at Lidl who offered a plastic bag because I was struggling carrying my oranges, and the woman who offered to let me out of the train ticket doors with her (even though I was actually just waiting for my friends to top up). There have been many other situations which I unfortunately have not written down – but I know that there’ll be many more to come!



    I also love how people speak to me in Dutch first, before realising that I am a helpless bean who can only say ‘dankuwel’ and switch to English in the goodness of their heart. After many instances in Spain and Turkey where I was either greeted with ‘ni hao’, or ‘Chinese’ (though I still don’t mind as their ignorance is from a lack of cultural exposure), it’s a refreshing change for sure.

Dutch-People
What came up when I googled "Dutch People"
  • The environment: Amsterdam is an incredibly safe place to live. There’s been many instances of me walking home (not so sober) and I haven’t encountered any problems – apart from me stepping into a dip in the pavement and nearly rolling my ankle.



    It's also a beautiful place with lots of culture. There are a butt-tonne of canals, and symmetrical tall buildings which gorgeous architecture (best appreciated when the weather is nice).

  • The biking culture! Because Amsterdam is incredibly tiny, getting anywhere is doable by bike (unless if it’s windy or raining… then good luck). There’s bike lanes everywhere, and we have exclusive parking (similar to Wilson, Secure parking etc), as well as our own traffic lights. Biking is also one of the things that make me truly feel like a local here. From beginning as a paranoid pedestrian (being used to the opposite side of the road didn’t help), to now being the cause of the paranoia shows that I’ve definitely come a long way. Plus, you get a solid workout in the process – I LOVE IT.  
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A lot of bikes in Rotterdam
  • But, one of the things I love most, is how easy it is to travel anywhere from here! Even flying to Turkey only took 3 hours which is absolutely crazy. I’ve done a day trip to Belgium via bus (only took 3 hours) and have the option of going to France, Germany, Luxembourg…you name it. I can also confirm that I’ve never looked at the European map this much my whole life than in the last few weeks.
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Europe is so smol
  • THEIR GODDAMN STROOPWAFFLES. This is a really important one. I really don’t know what they put in it… but I am convinced it involves some kind of drug? It has a crunchy yet chewy wafer and a caramel centre – I cannot express how addictive it is. TIP: eat it when it’s warm!!
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God's gift

But… although there are many wonderful things about Amsterdam, there’s also some that I’m not so keen on:

Dislikes:

  • They don’t accept credit cards in most places. Even though this shouldn’t be an issue for me (I have a debit card), for some reason they are considered credit here as well. So, unless if you have cash, expect to solemnly relinquish your groceries until the next visit. Also, if you pay online, either you can’t, or you’ll get surcharged for paypal or credit.

  • As much as I love biking, I am also shit scared because WE SHARE THE LANE WITH MOTORCYCLES. And worse, they drive ridiculously fast and don’t beep when approaching so you better hope that you don’t swerve at the wrong time. But apparently the laws are changing April 1st, I CANNOT WAIT. We also share the lane with these cute but chunky vehicles: Although it’s annoying to be stuck behind one, they’re so random so I'm not as against it.

Left: Reasons for a heart attack // Right: A car too tiny for the road and huge for the bike lane

  • Dutch is such a difficult language! It's not a surprise that I like talking to people, and I often try to speak the language of the place I'm at - but here it's such a struggle. Anytime you think you’re pronouncing something right, you’re definitely not – because Dutch is never that easy. For example, ‘Zuid’ meaning south, is pronounced ‘zowt’ instead of ‘zoo-id’. But then ‘Zout’ which means salt is also pronounced ‘zowt’ but with less of a ‘oouu’ sound (which makes me look like I may vomit).



    Also, don’t get me started on the street names. More often than not, someone will try to explain where they were and give up because they’re usually more than 2 syllables and that’s too much. It goes a little something like this:



    PERSON A: ‘Oh where’d you go?’

    PERSON B: ‘Just to Leidei…hold on, leideiuummm… ahhh yeah I don’t know --- that place near the centre’.



    But even though I can’t speak the language for the life of me, I just love listening to people speak Dutch! To best describe it, it reminds me of a mixture between simmish and German.
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I am not the only one who thinks this
  • This one extends to Europe as a whole – but needing to pay to use the bathroom – whether that be in a shopping centre, or the club – expect to pay 0.50-1 eur just to pee. Or, you can do what I do and swiftly dodge the toilet guard while extremely intoxicated and go in for free. But also, it has led my stingy ass to drink less water when going out, with is not a good combination with alcohol. Also, whilst being one of the countries with the most drinkable water, unfortunately you still need to pay for water in restaurants.

  • The weather right now. Although the weather was incredible a few weeks back (I even wore a skirt on one of them!) – it was obviously too good to be true. Finally, the real Amsterdam is upon us. For the past week, it’s been either a day’s worth of rain, ridiculously strong winds – or both. As soon as you look out with the dreary clouds, you don’t feel like doing anything but stay inside. When trying to bike while it's windy, even a tiny hill like the one along Carolina Macgilauvvn is painful - and when it's raining you just feel mad at the world. Against the wind, I’ve seen people walk faster than me pedalling, and I’ve had many instances of being gusted into poles – can’t wait for more of those days to come.

Left: My neighbourhood in Oost // Right: A beautiful view of a kindergarten from my window

  • Dutch food: I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say ‘let go out and eat some Dutch’ – which I think speaks for itself. To generalise (but also not), a typical dish here is either fried or sweet, so a perfect drunk food. But since I was attempting to be healthy when beginning exchange, that has obviously not happened for good reason. Whether it be stroopwaffles, krokets, or their ginger cookies ‘Speculaas’, their snacks are so unhealthily delicious - hence a budding love hate relationship.



    Also, as Amsterdam’s Asian demographic is a lot smaller than Melbourne’s, their quality of food is a hit or miss, depending on the cuisine. For Indonesian, Suraminese, or Indian – expect delicious food at a semi-decent price. BUT, going out for Chinese dumplings is not a good idea – and for the love of god, please don’t order xiaolongbao (or siu long bao as they call it). My heart ached, and will continue to… because it looked like this:
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What is this blasphemy

However, the Chinese main meals here actually taste pretty decent, e.g meat with rice, noodle soup etc. But unfortunately, it is more expensive than Chinatown in Melbourne (expect to pay at least 17-20 AUD here for a meal). But, seeing as their brunch, and grocery prices are much cheaper, I guess it’s not all that bad. 

But despite those negatives, Amsterdam is a very cool liveable city that has a lot to offer. I’ve enjoyed my time so far, and will have much more to share wooo! 

Until next time 🙂

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