California to Amsterdam - Expat Interview With Teresa

Published: 13 Nov at 11 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Netherlands
Teresa Hulst met her husband on a blind date at her front door in California, Nov 1994. It was not intended to be a date actually, just a friend of a friend coming for a "coffee" because he was in town for the weekend. She had traveled to Amsterdam on a 3 month European tour a few years before and when she had stepped onto the platform at the Central Station, she had a premonition that she would live in Amsterdam one day. So, when he asked Teresa to move to Amsterdam with him, she gave him a very enthusiastic YES! Teresa blogs at AMSTERDAMP (see listing here)

De Pijp, Copyright California Girl (CG).

Here's the interview with Teresa...

Where are you originally from?
SF Bay Area: Sausalito, California

In which country and city are you living now?
Amsterdam, NL

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived in Amsterdam since May 1998 and have no plans to leave any time soon.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved here because my husband is Dutch. I am a Photographer/Writer, Zumba Instructor and I give workshops in Alternative & Holistic Health.

Did you bring family with you?
My two siamese cats.

De Pijp, Copyright California Girl (CG).How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Extremely difficult because of the rain in Holland as compared to sunny California, and the language has a totally different structure than my native English & Spanish.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
No, it was not easy. I find the Dutch natives keep to themselves. I was working at Chello UPC in my first year, so I had a lot of contact with expats and I tend to be drawn to people who are native English speakers.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Ride a bike! It is a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, there is nothing finer than zipping around town on your bike. Amsterdam is very quaint and there are bike paths everywhere. Cafe society is also huge. The Dutch take their coffee seriously and they often have quick social meetings over a coffee. If there is even a hint of sunlight, no matter what the weather, they can be found on the terraces.

De Pijp, Copyright California Girl (CG).What do you enjoy most about living here?
I like how safe and small the city is compared to other places I have lived like L.A., SF, London. There is a sense that it is a small sweet world.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Many things are more expensive, like driving a car, but you can't beat the price of groceries and fresh flowers. Of course, I do live near the Albert Cuyp Market.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I would be great if the people in Amsterdam had better manners.

De Pijp, Copyright California Girl (CG).If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn the language and get a bike. Your life will be instantly better and you will be taken seriously.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The coldness of the weather and the people.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I have this every summer when I go home to California for 6 weeks. The people in California are very friendly, but flakey with their appointments compared to the hardcore Dutch promptness. The word for appointment in Dutch (afspraak) means commitment. In the beginning, I found appointments to be too rigid, but now I love the reliability.

De Pijp, Copyright California Girl (CG).What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
Learn the language, get a bike, join classes to meet new people, enjoy the European culture of shopping in specialty food shops, like the butcher, the baker etc. and be yourself no matter what.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog has been an exercise in training myself to write every day as I am contemplating a screenplay and need to do something with the approximately 100 photos I make every day. I needed an outlet to talk about the things that interest me as an artist.
When I had my practice (, I wrote a newsletter and was often a source of local information for my expat clients. The blog kind of grew out of that idea.
Now AMSTERDAMP is growing steadily it is receiving a lot of attention, which I LOVE. I have mountains of ideas for blogposts!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
All of my links on the web are on the front page of AMSTERDAMP. I will answer any comments on the blog or respond to emails: teresa(at)californiagirl(.)nl

Teresa blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. She can be found on Twitter @TCaliforniaGirl. AMSTERDAMP has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Teresa, please also drop her a quick note below.
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