After spending two months there, I can't say that I had as much fun as other foreigners with ample party opportunities would have, but I feel like I had a unique experience and managed to understand Dutch residents of Amsterdam to a deeper level than many passing tourists would.I was told that 30% of Amsterdam is foreigners; it's one of the strongest expat communities I've ever seen in almost a decade on the road. A large part of their history involves welcoming foreigners to the country and allowing them to continue living lives as they chose (in old times this being freedom in religion, and nowadays in cultural background, sexual orientation etc.) Such values surely inspired those who aspired for similar things in the new world as the first pilgrims for America sailed from Leiden, not far from Amsterdam, towards what is now New York, which was appropriately called (community / living together) has great respect for an individual's freedom to live life as he or she chooses; much more so than in other countries, including those that claim to be the freest in the world.I personally don't relate to a way of life that excludes being open to making new friends so easily, but it's not my place to judge others.While I can complain about this, and whine about the Dutch being “closed off”, I don't tend to travel to new countries to investigate reasons to complain about why they aren't like other ones (well, never…) I prefer to try to see the positive in everything, and I can indeed see that in the Dutch. They are encouraged to get out of the house and do things as much as possible.
When I arrived with the mission to learn Dutch, my priority was always to get to know the despite the vast numbers of other foreigners in the city has made my experience so much richer, while also creating new challenges in simply being able to socialise with any consistency.
There's a certain advantage to being organised in this way: it forces you to be more social and interact more than most of us in the western world do with TV nights in, hours wasting time online, and lack of coordination with those you want to see properly.
Although I also have a great love for serendipity and spontaneity, so I'll always try to leave my immediate calendar open now that I'll be living among other cultures again 😉 It was quite a struggle to have them squeeze me into these agendas; I even went as far as coming up with unique ideas to get some type of deep relationship with a Dutch person…
So much so that you can (and people do) live in the city for years, and learn no Dutch and even . But there is one consequence of this open mindedness; to allow people to do as they please, sometimes you should leave them to it.
The vast majority of other foreigners there were content in their English speaking “bubble” and had created full lives for themselves within that. And this other side of the respect coin seems to create a big divide between the Dutch and the foreigners in the city.