Moving countries is rated as one of the biggest stress events you can go through however I can safely say that moving to Amsterdam (from South Africa), although not a walk in the park, was really not as bad as it could have been. I think this was partially due to all the wonderfully friendly people I came across and partly as its such an amazing city. After quickly finding out that the tourists and central was definitely not the place we wanted to be, we ventured out the canal rings and found what this beautiful and vibrant city has to offer.
Before moving here I knew it would be really different to South Africa and I was excited to experience all of it. Despite trying to not have any expectations or preconceptions coming here, they invariably creep in. Many were way off, but most of them were actually pretty accurate. Moving from Johannesburg where your houses don’t open onto the streets, where everything is far apart and requires time in traffic to get anywhere and where the temperatures were often over 30°C, it sounds like the polar opposite of Amsterdam. We however found the culture and society easy to adapt into. Below is some of my observations and experiences thus far.
Firstly, and one of my favourite things about living in a city like Amsterdam is the fact that you can (safely) cycle everywhere and the freedom that this brings. Coming from Johannesburg where driving was the only form of transport and where it was not uncommon to take over an hour to get to work, my bike ride to and from work every day has become the best part of my day and something I rely look forward to, even in the cold and in many instances the rain. I even managed to cycle in snow once!!!. Being able to spend that time outside as opposed to in car in traffic is really amazing.
I must say it wasn’t always smooth sailing and my first few days cycling were absolutely terrifying! Between the pedestrians, scooters (my arch nemesis), cars, buses, and trams, coupled with the fact that I’m rather short so putting my feet on the floor is sometimes difficult, I spent a large portion of my first few rides in an utter state of panic! I remember wondering, what on earth I have gotten myself into and that I will have to take public transport as I will surely die a horrible death riding my bike.
But after about 2 weeks, I felt a lot better and now, between the hand signals, mastering the bike tracks, and ringing my bell at tourists in the bike lanes, I feel like I can blend in with my fellow cyclists.
I cant speak about Amsterdam without mentioning the beautiful parks scattered all over the city. I live very close to Vondel Park and I love going for walks, runs and cycles through the park whenever I get the opportunity. As there are not many parks in Johannesburg, experiencing the parks in Amsterdam has been amazing, between the children playing, dog walkers, joggers, chilllers, cyclists, beautiful lawns, old trees and rivers, I always leave the park with smile. I do wonder how people can run when its -7°C and snowing but maybe I will get there one day.
One of the most famous Dutch treats are Stroop waffles and I understand why… these little round pieces of heaven are simply delicious and I have, on more than one occasion, eaten the entire packet by myself (I like to blame busy season stress).
A few of the other delicious things I have tasted for the first time since arriving are bitterballen, kaassoufflé, krokets and poffertjes!! It really amazes me that the Dutch people are so fit and in shape when they have all of these delicious things available!
Working at Deloitte Amsterdam
Walking into the Edge on my first day of work was both exciting and daunting. Despite having read about the building and all it offers, it really didn’t disappoint. I remember thinking to myself – I can’t believe this is where I work now. Going up to the third floor, a more familiar scene awaited for me, the scene of the auditor in its natural habitat - hard at work in front of a laptop, looking very serious. Here in this familiar work environment I felt more at home. It may be an auditor comment but having the huge computer screens at each desk was definitely a game changer for me.
I did arrive in busy season and have had some really late lights on deadline, but this was expected. Moving from the Johannesburg office meant I was already familiar with EMS, SAP etc which definitely helped on the work front. On some of the finer points and the structure of the working papers, I did find a difference, but nothing life changing and I was able to adapt.
Overall my first two months living in Amsterdam have been incredible. I have met so many new people in the few weeks of working and everyone has been friendly and always willing to help or give advice, which is amazing. I have had great experiences with the teams I have worked with thus for and have met and worked with people from all over the world and have even been to Madrid for a week (even though I was working). There are also so many things to get involved with and I am really looking forward to Koningsdag, Ski weekend and all the other things the city has to offer. So that basically sums up my first 2 months in Amsterdam – bike riding, eating, and auditing. The move to Amsterdam has been an incredible experience thus far and I am looking forward to what is to come!
I am 25 years old, and have recenlty moved to Amsterdam from Johannesburg, South Africa. I am currently a senior staff in audit at the Amsterdam office. I love running, cycling, gyming and living a healthy active life style. I also enjoy going out with friends and trying new resturants and bars.