My First Visit to Expatland

Hello ExpatlandEven though I’ve been living in Europe for over 3 years, this is the first time I’ve ever felt like an expat. It is a hodgepodge of complicated feelings, but the one that permeates right now is the constant reminder that I’m an outsider – peering through the looking glass, so close and yet so far from the local culture.

Prior to coming to Amsterdam, I read a lot of articles about how easy it is to make friends and meet new people. What a drastic change from the last country I was living in! I was ecstatic to delve into the Dutch culture. Unfortunately, I hit a couple of road blocks pretty quickly. I asked people to have lunch with me at work and they declined. Since I don’t work in Amsterdam, there isn’t time (or a location) to socialize outside of work. With the exception of people that I knew before, I didn’t even have access to meet other Dutch people in my daily interactions that live in Amsterdam.

This is having an unexpected impact: it made me appreciate my experience in Germany so much more. Not only did I move with a local, but I already had my own network since I was working for a German company three years prior. I was already integrated into the culture and its inner workings, which is unique.Expatland is isolating

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve met some really nice expats recently. But being in Expatland is also extremely isolating and lonely. Even though there’s a shared experience with other expats, it’s not the same and in my opinion, not as much fun as being an integral part of the local culture.

I’m still not really sure how to remedy the situation. The information that is available to me is mostly expat related events. I’ve asked other expats how they met Dutch people and they told me either at school or at work. I’ll definitely keep you posted, but I am determined to visit the Netherlands again and check out of Expatland.

Do you have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

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6 thoughts on “My First Visit to Expatland

  • March 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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    Move to Istanbul. :) <3

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    • March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am
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      Good point… I already have local friends :). Who knows what the future holds?!

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  • April 21, 2014 at 6:29 pm
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    Having lived in Germany myself, I have to say, if you can feel integrated there, you can do it anywhere! :) I’m new to your blog but it sounds like you had an “in” in Germany, which makes things so much easier because you start on the inside. I don’t know the Netherlands as well as Germany, but here are a couple suggestions for starting on the outside. 1) Get involved in an activity that you enjoy where you can organically meet people who are interested in the same thing (dancing, hiking, wine tasting, etc). 2) Ask a cultural insider for tips on how to get to know people in and outside of work. You may already be doing these things…it may just take a while for people to warm up and respond. Good luck and enjoy the Netherlands! :)

    Thanks for participating in the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up!

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    • April 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm
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      Hi Cate, I really underestimated the insider advantage that I gained over the years in Germany. Another challenge here that I didn’t mention is that I don’t work in Amsterdam. The commute really affects my ability to attend meetups and gatherings during the week. I’m sure after King’s Day this weekend, I’ll be better acclimated into the Dutch culture. Bring on the orange!

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  • October 22, 2014 at 11:09 am
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    Hi Kim, what about a language tandem? That a sure-fire way to meet a local! I live in Germany and it took me a really long time to make German friends here, so I agree with Cate–if you can do it in Germany, you can do it anywhere 😀

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    • October 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm
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      I like that Germany is the new NYC, Dana and Cate (if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere)! I’ve made some progress since I originally posted this, via some writing and transmedia courses, but we are all at different stages in our lives. I really just need one partner in crime… is that too much to ask?

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