Creating my place in Amsterdam - or at least trying

Moving to a new country is exciting and invigorating. As with any move, there are many things to do to get your life in order and to make yourself feel at home. There are countless places to explore and opportunities to find your new favorite restaurant, café, bookstore or park. That said, it's no wonder that my first few months in Amsterdam were very full.

First, we had a new apartment to turn into a home. 
Our apartment - nicely decorated for my welcoming, but not so much for a home.
Oh yea, and we named our apartment Walter.
I cleaned like I've never cleaned before, painted, bought new furniture, assembled furniture, rearranged furniture, and even made a cover for our couch. On top of that, we had a seemingly endless stream of appointments to arrange our first wedding and to get my residence permit. Then we went on a honeymoon to Malta, we visited the husband's family in France, and we got a kitten. 
Hi! I'm Lady.
Plus, we had the best summer weather Holland has probably ever seen, so there were the obligatory day trips, bike rides, walks, and picnics in the park to schedule. 
In Amsterdam, we know how to plan a proper picnic.
Oh yea, and we had our second wedding which was basically a two week affair. By the time my parents left on the Tuesday almost two weeks later, the adrenaline that had kept me going promptly crashed. I contracted a stomach bug mere hours after they left and stayed in bed until that Friday. 

And that brings us to the present. Now I'm feeling healthier, and I've gotten over those post-wedding blues which were surely intensified by having to say goodbye to and subsequently missing all the family and friends that visited. So what's next? The initial tasks on my list have been crossed off and the fun distractions have disappeared, but it appears that life is continuing to move forward. It is now time to create my own place in Amsterdam. But to be honest, I'm not exactly sure where to start.

In a way, I've been through this before. Throughout the past ten years I've lived in a handful of different cities and countries starting with my move from Minnesota to Chicago for college. My young, adventurous self was excited to go to a school as far away as her parents would allow (and still help contribute financially), where I knew no one and had to make all new friends. It wasn't easy though, and I vividly remember feeling lonely around the five month mark (which is exactly where I am now) and like I wasn't really close to anyone. I also, however, remember being comforted by the fact that it was quite easy to get home whenever I wanted (thank you for your dollar fares, Megabus). 

My next few moves all seemed to have expiration dates. During college I studied abroad in London, knowing that I had signed up for one semester and would be returning to the States in the summer. My next big move was to South Korea where I signed a one year contract to teach English. Next, I volunteered for a month in Thailand and set out for a few months of travel through Southeast Asia and Europe (during which time I met my man). I then moved back to Minnesota and attended graduate school, all the while knowing that I would move to Amsterdam after graduation. As you can see, besides that initial move to Chicago, much of my adult life has been spent hopping from one location to the next yet all the while knowing that my time in each place is somewhat limited.

Now I live here, and though we have an abstract plan to move back to the States at some point, it is unclear exactly when that will be. The initial period of getting settled is over and it is becoming increasingly important for me to find my place, to create and foster connections in this new city. 

So, this is how I'm beginning...

First, and very importantly, I'm looking for employment. 
Presently, I nanny two days a week and as much as I enjoy spending my days with those little kiddos, nannying doesn't really help to expand one's social circle. Finding employment hasn't been the easiest (a subject which will likely have an entire blog post devoted to it in the future), but I'm making headway. I'm in the process of obtaining a substitute teaching position and am looking forward to getting my foot in the door that way as well as meeting some others who share my passion for teaching.

I'm actively looking for ways to expand my social circle. 
Since my arrival, I've made two friends of my own. I know that may sound a bit pathetic, but the husband has a great social network that keeps us quite busy. Despite this, however, it is important to me that I make connections of my own. So, I've been doing my best to schedule coffee or lunch dates with those two friends as well as some of those I've met through the husband. 

I've also started a book club which is something that I've always wanted to do. I emailed every female that I know in Amsterdam to see if they were interested and told them to invite others as well. For our first meeting next month, I will host not only some ladies I already know but also ladies I've never met to discuss our book. It's all very exciting.

I'm continuing to be a tourist. 
Often times we neglect to be a tourist in our own city. To do so in Amsterdam would be quite a pity. With more than 50 museums and countless other places to visit, there is no shortage of ways to fill an afternoon. One thing I've done is to buy a museum card. The museum card allows you access to almost any museum in Amsterdam for a year after the activation date and pays for itself on your fourth museum visit. 
The Bibliotheek at the Rijksmuseum, one of my favorite places in Amsterdam.
The husband and I have always enjoyed going to museums, but now with this card we can go whenever we want and not have to worry about the cost (goodness gracious I sound like an advertisement). Plus, you can just pop into any old museum you happen to pass by if you have extra time. I've found that having this card not only gives me a productive way to spend extra time but also more insight to the Dutch culture.

I'm trying out new hobbies. 
Sewing - I'm attempting to improve my sewing skills. I already tackled one couch cover, and now I'm on to a more difficult one. But first, I have to find the perfect fabric. Cooking - the husband and I cook dinner just about every evening. It's been a fun challenge to try out new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. 
The couple that chops together stays together.
Language - I'm learning French. Writing - I started this blog and have (recently) been doing my best to post regularly. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so this endeavor has been very worthwhile. Plus, it's a great way to update my friends and family back home. Yoga - I'm mustering up the courage to go to yoga more often. Yoga is something that I've always enjoyed and, with a studio a block away, something I should do more often. The reason I've been slacking is because when I attend a class, they often have to conduct it in English only for me which can be a bit uncomfortable. I think I just need to get over it though...

I know I have a long way to go before I feel that Amsterdam is really my home, but I believe that I'm making progress (and that's really what counts, right?). I'd also love advice! If you've ever struggled with finding your place and have some suggestions, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Another great read. You seem to be settling in quite well :) Can't wait for the book club get-together!

  2. Love reading these posts! As I am about to do the same thing as you have been doing - moving to a new (or sort of new) place for a short time, I'm planning to to some other things to keep me busy (and I bet they will work in Amsterdam too).
    1. You have these Meet-ups on a lot of different subjects everywhere (google meet up amsterdam). I'm hoping to meet some new people that way.
    2. I'm planning to look for a choir project in New York. Sometimes you have short projects, and since I love to sing that would be nice. Also a lovely way to meet new people.
    3. Write/work in cafe's. Instead of staying at home (which I also love by the way), I'm going to spend at least one day a week in a coffeeshop, and be outside. Just start talking to people that seems nice. You never know what might happen!
    4. In your case: you should come to the opening party that me and my friends are organizing in our new place: November 30 - Pretoriusstraat 68D (in Oost). I won't invite Philippe, so it can be your thing :) But you are welcome to bring who-ever you'd like!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Miriam. I definitely need to try some more meet-ups. I've done one and it was definitely beneficial because I met and made a good friend there. I'll also plan on coming to your party on the 30th!