Expat Experience - Lucas's story
Dutch way of life
Published on : 10-01-2013, 13:05 by Lucas Heckenbucker
I still remember my first day in The Netherlands 7 years ago like it was yesterday. Being a young curious teenager just 17 years old, it was a serious business to travel half way around the world all by myself - I come from Indonesia. The idea of coming to The Netherlands was my father's, a plan he'd had for a long time. Because most of our family is in The Netherlands and we are closely related to each other, it comforted him to send me here for my studies.
When I first arrived in Amsterdam 7 years ago, it was a chilly day in mid-September. I immediately picked up on all the differences I had never experienced before. There are countless 'Kanaals' crossing the city and frenetic bike traffic everywhere you look. If you want to get the feel of it and experience the real Amsterdam hectic lifestyle, I recommend getting a bike . Dutch people are the most amazing bikers in the world. You see them cycling while holding their kids or with groceries in their hands, texting while crossing a jam-packed road, and many other stunts. Dutch people are also considered some of the most tolerant and international-minded people in the whole of Europe. During my early days in Amsterdam, I didn't speak Dutch at all. English was my best option for communicating. I realise now that after all my years living here my English is actually improving! I am now so accustomed to everyone speaking such good English that I don’t even bother to ask permission to speak English first anymore; I just directly begin speaking English.
Housing placement in Amsterdam
At the outset of my time in Amsterdam, my university arranged everything for me. From my housing and registration with local government, to the extension of my ID card, my university's international program provided all these services. I lived in the North of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Noord). I love the houses situation here in Amsterdam. Dutch people are well-known for valuing their private space. But strangely enough, I do not experience this in Amsterdam: the houses are leaning against each other and often you can hear your neighbour as they walk the stairs!
During the first part of my career here, I have been actively moving every one or two years into a new place. Every time I move is a challenge, exhausting to be precise. A couple of months before each moving date, I start searching around and looking for people who I think may have a house/apartment to rent. There is a saying that connections always works like a charm, sometimes it is just not worth to believe. In The Netherlands, everyone is highly aware of the fact that a 'bargain' residence comes with risks. What are the risks? The biggest concern is not the residence itself, but the residence's owner. Whether or not this person is trustworthy, you have to judge for yourself. Frankly, I never have housing problems but please be advised to always look out for illegal sublets or apartments. Often the tenants are responsible for hidden costs and other housing law gaffes.
I suggest making a checklist before you take the bold step into the housing sector: get your housing facts straight and use a housing agency . To summarize, I think Amsterdam is an enchanting and eccentric city to live in. The city has set me on a new journey and chapter in my life. It has always been a pleasure to live here and I consider it my home away from home.