Today I want to tell you why we chose Amsterdam as the country that would host our expat adventure.
In the grand scheme of things (over a 6 month period of trying to make this happen) we had a total of four prospects: Warsaw, Cambridge, Prague, and Amsterdam. It really came down to 1) wanting a completely different cultural experience and 2) a place where a majority of the population spoke English.
I am not a linguist. My husband is not a linguist. Our daughter is okay at linguistics. She is young enough that she can catch on fairly quickly if she uses it enough. But the hubby and I were going to need some serious support.
Through research we decided England was too familar, Poland wasn't it because pay wasn't even close to what we had been making, location wasn't central, and we'd pretty much be stuck there, hubby wasn't sold on Prague because he didn't encounter a single person in his travels that spoke enough English to get by for us, so we finally settled on Holland. Through much research we learned that 90% of the population of Holland can carry on a conversation in English, coupled with a drastic culture change..it was just what we wanted.
But, in addition to having a well educated population that spoke English we chose Amsterdam for the following reasons:
- Culture: they have an open and supportive culture. Everyone looks out for one another and we wanted our daugther to experience that.
- Freedom: to be yourself and accepted by others regardless of sexual orientation, religion, or background.
- Outspoken truth: this is a very outspoken society, they always tell the truth even though you may not want to hear it. They are never mean, just truthful, I felt that was an important virtue for the teenager to learn at this point in life.
- Location: central Europe with an airport and train station where you can get anywhere in the world at the blink of an eye.
- Language: the home language of the country was Dutch so we knew that over time and in school she would learn Dutch and it would add a little flair to our everyday experiences, yet everyone within the city is educated enough that they can speak English quite well so if we get stuck we ask, "uw sprek Engles" and they switch over to English for us (although within the city when they hear our accent usually they will automatically switch to English, a bit frustrating)
- Easy to get around...we knew when we moved to Europe we wouldn't be investing in a car so a place that uses bikes and mass transportation as their main mode of getting around was right up our ally. I will say with all the extra exercise from riding our bikes everyday we are happier people.
All-in-all moving to Amsterdam has truly been everything we thought it would be. We have seen a lot of Europe and really enjoy all the people we've met throughout our travels. We've met people from all over the world and have learned so much about their backgrounds. Every day I am so thankful for this experience and that it has been everything we thought it would be.
I know my teenagers view on the world-understanding her friends home culture, learning about different political systems, and hands on history-has made an impact and broadened her personal knowledge and made her a deep thinker. Which is actually everything I wanted her to get out of this experience to carry with her in the future.
I'm not sure what the next year will bring but given that it has started with a trip to Berlin and then London, I can only imagine how it shall pan out.