American Expat Living in Amsterdam - Interview With Juliet

Published: 9 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Netherlands
Juliet is a type-A, over-educated, frantically organized American who hails from both the Pacific Northwest and New England. Although she worked in Africa in her early 20s, her first expat experience with a family is in Amsterdam. Thrilled with living amongst the world's tallest people, Juliet (5'10" and fair) relishes everyone's assumption that she is Dutch but wonders how these giants can have such small bathroom sinks. A recently crowned bicycle warrior, Juliet spends her Amsterdam days exploring the city by bike and by boat through her rowing club. With her youngest son in tow, Juliet plans travel itineraries around the availability of tall mountains and caves but sneaks in as much history and good food as possible in between. Please read her blog to learn the latest! Juliet's expat blog is called Hochmans in Holland (see listing here)

Meet Juliet - US expat living in Amsterdam
Meet Juliet - US expat living in Amsterdam

Here's the interview with Juliet...

Where are you originally from?
Most recently from Oregon, but I grew up in New England and consider myself a Yankee.

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

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved here in June 2012 and we expect to stay until the summer of 2014. Hopefully longer.

Why did you move and what do you do?
My husband works for Nike; I am the notorious "trailing spouse."

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, 2 boys, ages 12 and 14.

In Northwest Slovenia with husband, Steve.
In Northwest Slovenia with husband, Steve.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Very easy. My parents are British and South African and I lived in South Africa briefly in my early 20s. Living in Amsterdam is really easy - we love it here.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It is always easiest making friends through your children's school. I also joined a rowing club where I am the only expat and most of the training is conducted in Dutch, so that offers me a different experience from my expat friends.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Read my blog! There is so much to do in Amsterdam and the vicinity. When you tire of Amsterdam, hop on the train to Leiden, Haarlem, Delft, The Hague and Utrecht. The possibilities are endless!

At summer camp with two sons
At summer camp with two sons
What do you enjoy most about living here?
Riding my bike everywhere. The cafe culture. Traveling and exploring. There is not a day I don't ride my bike through the canals and reflect on how lucky I am to live here.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Definitely more expensive than in the U.S., with the exception of a few items like bread and wine! Haircuts are especially outrageous.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I miss my sister a lot. We're not close enough to the mountains. That's about it.

How do you spend your days in Amsterdam?
A lot of the day is spent keeping the wheels on the bus: errands, cooking, cleaning, organizing the boys' activities, and taking everything I can off my husband's plate as he is so busy at work. I also spend endless hours researching and planning trips as we are trying to capitalize on every moment we have here in Europe. I continue to explore Amsterdam. I teach an English class and take Dutch lessons. I work out every day. I volunteer at my son's school. As a former Olympic rower, I am also hoping to help out with the World Rowing Championships which will take place in Amsterdam in the summer of 2014.

On top of Mt. Mulhacen in Spain with younger son
On top of Mt. Mulhacen in Spain with younger son
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Keep your U.S. home phone number by contracting with Vonage which runs your number through the internet. Then you can keep in touch with family and friends and make all those pesky 800-number calls (insurance company, airlines, credit cards) just as you would in the U.S. You just have to remember to unplug it at night so callers confused by the time change don't wake you up.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
There really isn't a hard part. I suppose there are a lot more family logistics and administration, especially with one son at boarding school in the U.S., than ever before. But this is easily outweighed by the thrill of living here.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think I will miss doing everything on my bike. I dread going back to a car culture.

Cross country skiing in Austria.
Cross country skiing in Austria.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. As above, get an internet-based phone line and keep your home number.
  2. If possible, take measurements in your new home before you move. Then buy everything you need, right down to shelves, towel racks and hooks, at Home Depot before you come. It will make moving in so much faster.
  3. Stock up on all your favorite over the counter medicines before you move. Even simple things like neosporin, cough syrup and claritin are not available without prescription here.
  4. In addition to your expat friends, find some way to plug into the local community, through a sports club, volunteer activity or even language classes.
  5. Expect that things will be different. Maybe even better. Embrace it.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
"Hochmans in Holland" is an even split between travel-related blogs describing my various travels around the Netherlands and Europe and reflections on parenting and the differences between Dutch and American culture. Use it to research your next trip, laugh at an expat's observations of a different culture, or seek solace in another mother's perspective on parenting teenagers.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via my blog.

Juliet blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Hochmans in Holland has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Juliet, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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