Expat Gone Wild: Choosing life in La La Land

Expat Gone Wild: Choosing life in La La Land

Jan 22, 2012 |  by  |  Art
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

They ride their trashy Dutch bikes like die-hard rickshaw cyclists in India, they know that going Dutch is synonymous for “baby, pay your own bill” and they stalk their naked neighbour in his curtainless flat just like he is stalking them. They are expats gone wild in Amsterdam and I am one of them! Let me share my stories about a foreigner’s life in this glorious town. You’re in La La Land before you know it.

Part 1: Introduction

I am still not sure whether it’s the sparkling lights of Leidseplein on a Saturday night at 4am, the charmingly squeaking sound of my crappy bike or the uncountable amount of tall and handsome Dutch men treating their hair with a jar of weatherproof aloe vera gel that leaves me left with such a deep affection for Amsterdam. Let me clarify the gravity of the situation up front: I suffer from radical amsterdiction.

Ever since I moved to Amsterdam two years ago, my mother has tried several times to make me come back home and she failed miserably. It’s like she wanted me to go to rehab, but I did the no, no, no thing on her. She tried to lure me with all kinds of goodies, going as far as to offer me to save up and buy me a house, but all I would ever do is deny. Instead, I would check out the next big thing coming up in Amsterdam and click on “attending” with an insatiable feeling of excitement. One click, insatiable feeling of excitement? You got the memo. I am seriously damaged.

Sorry mum, but I’m staying.

La La Land

I’m often wondering about what made me become so hooked on Amsterdam. Especially since I could scream at the perpetual rain in this town and taking care of my taxes makes me want to give myself a horse tranquillizer. And I know a lot of expats would agree on that. However, every time my train rolls into Central Station when I come back from abroad, I catch myself having this uber-cheesy feeling of coming home. And that’s why there is one thing I know for sure: Amsterdam’s highly addictive.

It’s like La La Land. The land of handsome well-combed giants, strange deep fried eating habits and unexpected afterparties. A place synonymous with Hollywood: “out of touch with reality, focussed on dreams, fantasies or frivolous endeavours”, as they say. Being out of touch with reality means asking the notorious “Where the hell is my bike?” question on Leidseplein after a good night out, while focusing on dreams, fantasies or frivolous endeavours is waking up on a Sunday afternoon and thinking to yourself “Did yesterday really happen?”. For what it’s worth, one cannot leave La La Land without serious withdrawal symptoms. So again. Sorry mum, but I’m staying. And if it’s only to finally understand the magic of a Dutch man’s shiny hairdo.

Talk of the town

I asked a few fellow expats what makes Amsterdam unique for them. Here is what they said:

Alvaro (23), graphic designer from Aveiro, Portugal:

The most unique thing about Amsterdam is the high amount of hotties per m2.

Megan (27), PR agent from Austin, Texas:

Hair gel dispenser.

Ibtisam (24), junior marketing manager from Stockholm, Sweden:

Amsterdam to me is about loads of expats falling in love with a beautiful city and its pulse, but forever struggling with the awkwardness that is Dutch culture. It’s f*cking great.

Amadeus (26), copywriter from Salzburg, Austria:

Amsterdam is the only city in the world where I would ever bike in the rain. Not that you have a choice…

Lisya (24), graduate student from Istanbul, Turkey:

I learned how to ride a bike in Amsterdam a year ago and I’m like Rambo on that thing now.

Aeneas (24), community manager from Hong Kong:

The unique thing about Amsterdam is that Dutch people don’t have taste buds.

Sarah (27), Content Producer from Austin, Texas:

Just wear stilts at concerts and you’ll be fine!

Next time on ‘Expat Gone Wild': Part 2: Broken Dutch survival kit

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