Moving to Amsterdam from anywhere else in the world can be quite a culture shock. First comes apartment hunting (UGH) and a battle with bureaucracy to obtain the appropriate papers, then a first attempt at speaking Dutch. After all, Amsterdam’s a metropolitan city and people move here from around the world to experience Amsterdam life but it’s not all plain sailing (or cycling). So what skills do you need to live in lovely Amsterdam?
1. Figuring out how to park your car near the canal without driving into the water.
It’s true, there is literally nothing separating the car from the water and nothing to delineate where the canal starts and the parking space stops.
2. Remembering birthday etiquette and congratulating the whole family!
If you’re not saying to ‘gefeliciteerd’ to absolutely everyone then you’re not doing it right.
3. Watching out for people on bikes.
If you come from a city with fewer cyclists (basically any other city) then your first few weeks will be a blur of learning how to navigate streets filled with bikes.
4. Getting used to Amsterdam humour.
As a foreigner, it can often feel like nothing is off bounds when it comes to Dutch humour, which is decidedly more direct than in a lot of other countries.
5. Learning patience when waiting to be served.
Amsterdam is often full of tourists and if you’re waiting to be served in one of the tourist traps then you’ll often we waiting a long time. Don’t leave the house hungry in De Pijp!
6. Speaking Dutch.
Actually, this one isn’t unique to Amsterdam or even the Netherlands (shout out to Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Aruba and Suriname) but it’s true that Dutch isn’t as widely spoken as some other European languages. You can get around in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch but everyone loves a trier!
7. Walking downstairs when the stairs are designed to make you fall.
Walking up the stairs is equally as dangerous, especially if you’re drunk. We have great respect for any student who still manages to drink a skinful of alcohol and navigate the stairs successfully in their first year.
8. Making peace with having mice.
We don’t know why there are so many mice in Amsterdam but it’s probably got something to do with the canals, densely packed accommodation and old houses. Wherever you live you’re likely to be sharing your home with one of these little furry guys.
9. Eating that first bitterball without burning your tongue.
Ahh, yes. We’ve all had our mouths burnt by bitterballen hotter than the sun.
10. Scaring tourists with your cycling skills!
Once you’ve mastered biking etiquette it’s time to terrify some tourists who are probably not used to dodging cyclists.