Moving to Amsterdam

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Monday, April 7, 2003

After 4 months of paperwork and negotiation, Melanie arrived in Amsterdam on April 6 with 2 cats, a cello and FAR too much luggage. The Chicago airport was relatively easy to navigate due to the availability of porters, but I quickly learned that in the Amsterdam airport (Schiphol) there are no porters. Lesson learned: A person should never carry more luggage than can be managed without assistance. Milo did pretty well on the flight, but Venus mewed a lot once the tranquilizers wore off.

April 6 was a Sunday and, after a nap to combat the jet lag, Melanie quickly learned that the rumors that everything is closed on Sunday in the Netherlands is really true outside of the center of Amsterdam. The corporate housing (which is very nice -- HUGE and very comfortable), is located on the edge of Amsterdam in a quiet neighborhood. There is a shopping center 2 blocks away, but everything was closed.  A driver had met Melanie at the airport and drove her to temporary housing, but there was no map or explanation of where she actually is!  All she knows for sure is that she is within walking distance of the ABN AMRO head office and that from there a tram goes to Central Amsterdam, where SURELY there's a grocery store available. Luckily, upon walking to the main street she sees head office and can walk to it. From there it's an easy tram ride to the Center and Albert Heijn (the local grocery chain). This really is a lucky break because Melanie later learned that had she walked to the main street in the other direction she would not have been able to see head office.  Once back in the Center Melanie was much more comfortable as everything was familiar again.

After falling off the luggage cart in the Schiphol Airport, Venus spent the entire first 2 days behind the couch. After the 2nd night Milo persuaded her to come out and explore and she quickly returned to normal.  Meanwhile Melanie bought 50 tulips for 8 euro at the flower market and started to settle in as well. A coworker suggested a very detailed map, which she bought.  That has really helped Melanie to figure out where she was actually living and how to get from one place to the other. A huge help!

Work is interesting. Everybody is very nice and helpful, but we're all a bit amazed at how much information and how many forms are in Dutch. 30 minutes of Melanie's first meeting with her boss was spent getting the mobile phone working properly because the instructions were all in Dutch. In America this is something Melanie would be able to handle by herself. Thus, the first taste of the simple things that are much more difficult because the instructions are all in Dutch. Although the people all speak English, the telephone prompts and written instructions are all in Dutch. It is good that the bank will pay for Dutch lessons. They just need to be scheduled! Another lesson learned: It is a waste of time to try to figure things out on our own. It's much faster and more efficient to just ask a Dutch person and get a more complete answer in 1/10th of the time!

Melanie has also learned that she has no sense of how long it will take to do something here.  After opening all of our bank accounts, it seems impossible to deposit money into them until it is transferred from the U.S. Opening all of the accounts took 2 hours -- and still no money! We can use our American ATM cards at any ATM here to get cash, but the whole way that bills get paid is different. Everything is a direct debit. When signing up for the phone or the gym, an account number is given and then they simply debit the account each month. So, Melanie has been giving out this number a lot without any money there. This is something she would never do in the U.S., but there really is no choice here. The bank guy says it's ok for now. Meanwhile, other tasks that Melanie thought would take 30-60 minutes only took 5! Just part of the adjustment.

It is beautiful here right now. The daffodils are in bloom and the trees are all blossoming. It is amazing how there is farm land right in Amsterdam.  Melanie takes the Metro train to work every day and passes a field with sheep and cows. One day there was a beautiful pheasant right beside the railroad track. It's amazing!

We've included some photos taken during an earlier trip to Amsterdam...perhaps some of these subjects encouraged us to consider moving here.

Click here to jump to more info on Amsterdam (feel free to come back though)
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Paul on

I am looking for a few pictures about moving to Amsterdam for

Brigitte on

This is funny =) You moved to Amsterdam, I can't wait to get out of this country.. I wish I could live in Chicago. I visited it this year and I loved it, such a pretty city!

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