Tag Archives: expats

The Expat Curse – Friends that Leave

4 Oct

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?

They left.

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).