Photo by Saffron Pape

Name: Alexandra
Occupation: Marketing and Communications Intern and Volunteer at International Almere
Nationality: Romanian
Moved to the Amsterdam Area in: November 2017

Living in: Almere

Why did you decide to move to the Netherlands?

After visiting Amsterdam and The Hague while on holiday and seeing so many happy people on their bikes, I decided to move to the country. Of course, I also did my research and found many reasons to move here, like good companies and very good transport, nature and opportunities. And its location, of course! 

Why did you decide to live in Almere over other parts of the region?

It’s a new and interesting city with a lot of potential. It’s cheaper than Amsterdam and quiet, with a lot of nature, separate infrastructure for bicycles and dog friendly. Its location makes it easy to travel by train to other cities and, of course, Schiphol airport.

When did you first feel like an Amsterdammer? (if you do). How does being based in Almere affect that?

I first felt like an Amsterdammer during my holiday here because I got that unique feeling of freedom. I really like the diversity here – people from all over the world, a huge range of activities like visiting museums and exhibitions, travelling by boat and celebrating King’s Day in a great way. Sometimes I enjoy visiting Amsterdam to feel the energy of a big and crowded city, but I also like to come home to Almere – where I feel safe and warm – to charge my batteries.

What has working and/or living in Amsterdam taught you?

If Dutch people speak their thoughts (good or bad) directly to you, don’t take it personally. The good thing about this is that they’re honest so other cultures can learn from them. It’s also very important for your personal and professional life to learn the Dutch language as soon as possible – I’m still struggling with it! 

How has the area changed since you’ve lived here?

I’m not sure if the area has changed much since I moved here, but I have noticed that usually they move very fast with every project they’re working on, including infrastructure. In Romania, these kinds of changes take a lot of time! I’m very curious about Floriade and I can’t wait to see how it will impact Almere.

Undiscovered gems in Amsterdam and Almere (food, drinks, bars, clubs, places to visit)?

In Amsterdam, I recommend the museums and Vondelpark, but also the Red Light District – you can’t visit Amsterdam without seeing it.

In Almere, I recommend Almere Centrum – the futuristic centre where you can find anything you need. From clothes and shoes to Greek food, books, make up and anything else you want, they have it! One of my favourite places is Café op 2 because they organise different events and is a great spot to sing and dance with friends. I also like to do my grocery shopping every Saturday at the market in Almere Centrum because I can find fresh bread, vegetables, fruits, almonds and fish.

Photo by Saffron Pape

How is Amsterdam unique to your country/other different cities you have lived in?

The feeling of freedom, the canals and bikes. Compared to the atmosphere of other cities, Amsterdam looks like it’s in a fairy tale. The architecture of the houses is also very interesting and different from those in Romania. And you don’t see so many boats in Romania! Bucharest is also a very beautiful city where you can find many gems like the parks and, for mountain or castle lovers, I highly recommend Brasov.

What’s your ideal day in and around Amsterdam?

Exploring the city by bike or by boat, drinking a cocktail with my friends on a terrace while admiring the houses and the canals, visiting new museums and going to cool events. Amsterdam is full of possibilities, but I just need more time to do it all.

Was there anything unexpected about living/moving here, including any challenges?

It was a little bit difficult to find a house and open a bank account. There were also other things like health insurance and finding a job, but that wasn’t really unexpected. The Dutch language is also very important!

Any advice for people thinking about moving here/just moved here, including settling in and making friends?

Do a lot of research online and through social media. Join groups and clubs focused on internationals living in the Amsterdam Area, such as International Almere, ask questions and go to different events. Try to create relationships with people you can trust because you’ll need some help in the first months. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll make very good friends at the events and even your Dutch neighbours will help you.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood/area and why?

Muziekwijk – there’s everything I need here, including shops, a train station and nature.

How do you like to spend your weekends?

I like to go to International Almere’s events like First Friday Night Drinks and the Dutch Language Café, but I also like to go bowling or for a cycle in Beatrixpark. Sometimes I explore other cities across the country like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Amstelveen.

What do you like and dislike most about living in the Amsterdam Area?

As well as the nature, bikes and canals, the work-life balance here is great! At first, the unpredictable weather was strange for me, but now I’m used to it and am usually prepared for rain.

What is special about living/working here?

Colleagues and managers are usually really friendly and helpful. The relationship is based on trust which makes your work so much easier.

Photos by Saffron Pape