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365 Amsterdam

Alex (27) is een heuse urban nomad. Als copywriter bij reclamebureaus all around the globe streek hij afgelopen jaar neer in Amsterdam. Genoten heeft hij, van het expat leven. Hij trotseerde fietspaden en bitterballen en vond dit allemaal reuze spannend. Toch verlaat hij ons binnenkort. Lees hier een beknopt verslag van zijn 365 daagse Mokumse avontuur.

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It’s exactly one year today that I stepped off the train at Centraal and carried my trolleys on the 24 tram all the way to Olympiaplein, the first Dutch neighborhood I resided in. Many different rooms, roommates and neighborhoods followed during my year here, but looking back, here’s how my first day looked like and what I take away with me on my last.

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I have never found it more difficult to adjust to a new language, as Dutch seems to have a constant cold and you need to cough your words out. Yes, it was because of the G and for an expat it will never get old.

My first tram conductor laughed at me when I asked him how to get to “Oudezijds Achterburgwal”. I suppose it was quite embarrassing, since the whole tram giggled like an 8-year-old girl. Also, I learned how to pronounce dankjewel and it took 4 individuals, 3 LOLs and some humiliating shoulder pats until I got it just right. I think there is a Vine of my excruciating attempts somewhere out there.

My first official Amsterdam hash joint was canal-side and not in a coffee shop. I’m sure that means something and I’m proud of that.

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I realized that same day that being a Romanian in Amsterdam meant having to work twice as hard to let people know that going after Rolexes, expensive bikes and owning questionable smoky BMWs was not among my goals.

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Jumping one year ahead – after meeting plenty of Dutchies, enjoying a job as a copywriter and eating too many pancakes at Bakers & Roasters – on my last days here, before I move to the land of sausage and unbelievably annoying organizational skills, here’s what I take with me:

Dutch and Romanians are a far better match than you think: both equally disorganized, creatively all over the place and both in possession of an infectious desire for a fun weekend. If we were on Tinder, we would definitely swipe each other to the right.

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Roest, Pllek and Hiding in Plain Sight are the coolest bars in the world. I managed to get away from the tourist crowd and discovered two beachy bars with an unbelievable vibe, very friendly crew and affordable fancy drinks and the most amazing whisky bar that couldn’t be better hidden. It only serves Scottish brands and the crew is a walking, talking encyclopedia of whiskey and scotch. It’s better if you have a set of wheels to reach all three and what’s even more obvious is that there will be a huge amount of jokes at your expense for not biking as fast as your fellow Dutch riders. That’s cool though, us expats can take it by now.

No one has eaten at the Bird as much as I have. I made those great people cook twice as much and I couldn’t be less sorry for that. The food is amazing.

My fanciest restaurant: Americano. I still can’t believe I had dinner there and I still can’t believe how tiny the pretentious portions were. You’ll totally be hungry after you leave but it’s so, so worth it.

My worst: Rembrandtplein. No matter the day, no matter the hour, you’ll want to die.

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Finally, after 365 days of living here, it feels great to have this city in the back of my pocket. I’m coming back for sure to check off the following: living in the Jordaan, understand bitterballen, which I still think are kind of gross, locking my bikes better and trying to pass along the following Dutch phrases in English: “I fell with the door in the house” and “Unfortunately peanut butter.”

It’s been grrreat. Dankjewel.

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