There are many great benefits of being expatriated from your native country. Since leaving Canada six years ago, I have grown to love the laid-back lifestyle of European living. Better pay, a bigger social safety net, a healthier work-life balance, and the ease and relative cheapness of travel are just a few of the many reasons why I love living in Amsterdam.
On the downside – the weather, the Dutch language conundrum of Amsterdam expats, and the EXPAT CURSE.
Your friends leave and never come back.
One of the hardest parts of moving to a new country is making new friends again. When we first moved here, we both worked in places with a high expat-to-Dutch ratio. If you spoke English and were within a certain age bracket and liked to have a drink, chances are you’d start hanging out eventually. This was fine for the first few months, but then after awhile, I grew tired of the bar scene and the limited conversation topics. I just couldn’t see myself forming a bond with any of these people, and so I didn’t bother going out just for the sake of it.
When I changed jobs, I met another expat named Kate, and shortly afterwards, her boyfriend, Pauley. We quickly became good friends, hell, they were pretty much our only friends. But then, a year later, they went travelling, moved to London, and then back to New Zealand. I sat at a friendless ‘square one’ for a few months before another Kiwi joined the company (and the Netherlands) with her soon-to-be Dutch husband. Because we worked so closely together, Erica and I found that we got along quite well and became friends.
Then our very good friend named Adam (who is sporting a rather dashing moustache currently) moved over to the land of clogs, cheese and tulips. Later that summer, Liz & Colin (Liz’s older sister is Erica’s best friend) moved to Amsterdam and, holy shit, we suddenly had a CIRCLE OF AWESOME FRIENDS!!
Then, it got even better, ’cause Nikki & Aidan came into the fold…also Kiwis, what gives?! We now had a big enough circle of friends to have house parties, FUN house parties.
I always knew in the back of my mind that Liz & Colin and Erica & Aris would call Amsterdam home only temporarily, but a part of me hoped they would just love it so much that they would never leave.
Well, you know, it’s Amsterdam, not the Maldives. Or Portland.
And guess what?
Liz & Colin left on a 4-month European roadtrip in a old VW van called Bumblee (see: Bumblebee takes Europe). I’m a cryer, and Liz is a cryer, and so I had a pretty babyish cry when they left in August.
We said goodbye to Erica & Aris last night, and also to Damian, their beautiful 8-month-old, blue-eyed prince. Luckily, Erica’s not a cryer, so I was able to hold it together. I will miss them a lot.
Erica and a particularly cheerful Little D.
And now that quirky Welshman, Ben, is taking off at the end of the year.
So, look: Rochelle & Maarten, Nikki & Aidan, Adam & Karl – YOU CAN”T GO ANYWHERE (at least for a couple years).