amsterdam, anniversary, expat life


Some people think I’m silly slash ridiculous for counting the milestones I do, but what can I say? For one, I like to celebrate, and for two, I’m a hopeful romantic who will take any chance I can to reminisce, reflect on the good times, and count my blessings.

Yesterday marked a year and a half of marriage with Corey. The last six months in particular have been some of the happiest, most magical, but also most trying times of our relationship. Our move to Europe has brought us so much closer. It’s hard to describe how  your marriage changes when it’s just you and your spouse. No family. No best friends. Just us. It’s been incredible. It’s been hard at times, but most off all it has been so rewarding and it gives me such pride in the man I married and the relationship we share.
And speaking of that big move…Sunday marked six months since we moved to Amsterdam. We made it half a year! Holy crap. Are you proud? Some days it feels like we’ve been here for years, and other days it feels like we blinked and six months flew by. Looking back on all our amazing travels so far (London, Paris, French Riviera, Dublin, Berlin, OH MY!) and everything we’ve learned about living in a foreign country, I am truly in awe of our life. Inspired by this post, I thought I’d share the top 10 things we love about living in Amsterdam and the top 10 things we don’t love so much.
10 Things We Love About Living in Amsterdam
+Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: A rarity in the States, but in Amsterdam you can be sure if you’re ordering orange juice it will be freshly squeezed. Yum!
+The Canals: The sight of them never gets old.
+Being able to jet off to amazing European cities so easily: Next up, Seville!
+Biking: We’re on a little biking hiatus due to the snow and freezing temps, but it remains my favorite way to get around here!
+Dinners that last hours and hours: In the US you are greeted promptly, sat promptly, and the wait staff expects you to get in and out of their restaurant as quickly as possible so as to shuffle their next guests in ASAP. Totally different story in Amsterdam. You can sit for hours and you practically have to beg for your check so you can pay and leave!
+Fashion: Everyone looks effortlessly chic in Amsterdam. I love looking at all the great style that surrounds me every day. I also feel way more comfortable taking fashion “risks” here (read: I can wear something that isn’t mainstream without getting confused stares. Yes, Portland, I’m talking to you!)
+The number of expats: Amsterdam is known for its expat community. It has made meeting new friends so much easier, and having the opportunity to relate to another American living in Amsterdam makes me feel more at home.
+Dining Al Fresco: It doesn’t matter the weather, there are always tables and chairs outside cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a good meal. They even set up an outdoor dining area on an icy canal recently!
+The Corner Market: It feels like there’s a tiny grocer /deli on every corner, and we happen to love ours. It serves up fresh croissants in the morning and delicious take-away dinners, amazing cheeses, olives, wine…I just feel so European whenever I pop (which is often).
+Schipol Airport: Okay, yeah, it’s a little weird that one of my favorite things about Amsterdam is the airport, but trust me, Schipol is amazing. When you spend as much time in and out of airports as we have in the last six months you really start to appreciate the good ones. Somehow whenever I walk through Schipol it feels like home.
10 Things We Don’t Love So Much About Living in Amsterdam
+The Service (or lack thereof)
+Washer/dryers, microwave ovens. Don’t Europeans want anything done quickly and efficiently? Why must they combine such vital appliances? (and why must my oven be so.dang.small?!)
+Trains/Trams/Buses: It’s actually a love/hate relationship.
+Cheek kisses. The customary thing to do when greeting someone in Europe is to give those air/cheek kisses. In the Netherlands you give three, in most other parts of Europe you give two. I am just so awkward when I do this (and so is Corey!). I always hesitate – which side do I start with? How many kisses are they going to do? I’m just waiting to mess it up and give someone a smackeroo right on the lips! AH!
+Commuting: I miss hopping in my car and being at work in 15 minutes. And not having to work around train schedules!
+The Metric System: I spend more time converting kilometers to miles, kilos to pounds, centimeters to inches, grams to cups (it goes on and on) than I care to admit.
+Weird (to me) Food Combinations: Like Tuna on pizza and in pasta. Huh? I got on board with the fries dipped in mayo, but this? I just can’t.
+How Expensive Everything Is: Everything is more expensive here, add the conversion on top of that and a dinner bill can bring me close to tears. I miss Portland where the restaurants are incredible and cheap!
+Being Far Away From Family: I’m just now starting to feel really far away from everyone back home. At first it felt a little like we were just on an extended vacation, but now that we know we won’t be going home until August I feel really distant (and if I’m honest, I’m afraid my friends will forget all about me).
+Shopping Hours: Stores, banks, pharmacies, pretty much everything except the grocery store (and thank goodness for that!) close at 5PM here. I’m still at work with an hour commute ahead of me at 5PM, how does anyone get anything done around here?! 

47 thoughts on “{Milestones}”

  1. When my husband (fiance at the time) and I went to Amsterdam I resisted the fries and mayo for most of the trip. I just couldn't imagine using mayo as a dip! On the last day I tried, and it was way different than American mayo and was actually pretty good. In general their “frites” were awesome 🙂

  2. Love this post! My husband and I have been living in Germany for almost 7 months now (we totally celebrated at our 6 month mark too!) and all the things you like and dislike about Amsterdam are very similar to my likes and dislikes about Germany! I will NEVER get used to seeing Tuna on pizza. Accidentally ate a bite of a slice the other night and proceeded to gag accordingly. BLECH. I also dislike spending an entire day just trying to bake 5 dozen cookies in my tiny German oven. Explain to me how that's saving their precious energy? Efficiency my ass!

    Hubs and I are planning a trip to Amsterdam in April to see the tulips and, of course, explore the city. Any secret gems or “must-see's” off the beaten path that we should look out for? Congrats on your 6 months! Definitely something to celebrate! 🙂

  3. I love your “fashion” comment. I will NEVER forget when you wore jeans, a blazer and a flower pin. People at work asked if it was your birthday because you looked nice. Haha. Oooo Portland indeed.

    On that note, I wore a dress and tights Monday because it was sunny and a few people whispered to me “do you have a job interview?”

    Congrats on it all. You DO have a beautiful life.

  4. I can relate to some many of the more challenging aspects of living in Europe that you mentioned. At least you have a dryer – no one has them here in Italy.

    Happy 6 and 18 months!

  5. Congrats on both of your milestones! I'm a big fan of celebrating every little thing 🙂

    Enjoy Sevilla – it's a gorgeous city and there is so much to see!

  6. Aw, congrats on such big milestones. I am just like you and I like to celebrate every occasion. It sounds like you are having a wonderful and enjoyable time there.

  7. I love celebrating milestones as well! It's kind of nice to be able to keep track of everything! I know that I love to celebrate anything and everything! I hope you're having an amazing time in Amsterdam! I know you're away from family, but it's such a blessing and a curse all in one!

  8. This is such a wonderful post! Your life has certainly changed with your big move. I can imagine living abroad is so exciting but missing the conveniences of the US must also be hard at times!

  9. Congrats on a year and a half and here's to so many more wonderful memories you two will have together! 🙂

    It's so funny, but your likes and dislikes list is almost identical to mine for South Africa. Dinner out is a 3 hour affair, there's outdoor seating everywhere, service is terrible, and we have no indoor heating, dryers and dishwashers. Who would have though, ha!


  10. I totally forgot that we got married on the SAME day!! My husband and I celebrated our 1 1/2 year anniversary yesterday too! Time flies, doesn't it?

    And congrats on 6 months in Amsterdam! How exciting!

  11. Congrats on a year and half of marriage and on 6 months in Amsterdam! Those are milestones that SHOULD be celebrated! I laughed when I read your statement about the kisses.. my soon to be in laws are from Europe and they do two kisses. It took me so long to catch on that now I have a hard time only doing one kiss on the cheek – its all very confusing!

  12. This sounds all too familiar. When I lived in Chile, I had most of those pros and cons. The food combination was hard too. Fries in mayo, avocado and tomatoes on a hot dog, and a few more are things I never was on board with.

    Cheek kisses were custom there too. I didn't mind it until I did that to my boss and realized I probably cross some major boundaries. I guess I was just trying to fit in, right?

    And, yes, store hours. Everything, I mean everything was closed on Sundays. I literally had nothing to do but grocery shop and sit it a park (which was fine by me) but there were never plans for Sundays because the whole place was shut down.

    BUT, I miss that abroad life oh so much. I would go back in a heart beat. Soak it in while you can!!

    And, happy anniversary! Cheers to many more!

  13. I LOVED this post Liz!

    As an expat myself (albeit in a 3rd world country and not beautiful Amsterdam) I really related to a lot of the things you said. I also agree that the overseas move has done wonders for my marriage and think that we've grown so much as a couple.

    By the way, the cheek kissing will get easier. I blogged our awkwardness at it in the beginning as well and my husband really struggled with it… especially at the beach with the bosses wife in a bikini! Now we're so used to it that it doesn't phase either of us!

  14. The tuna made me laugh out loud, I'm an expat in southern Europe and it's the same here. And I totally agree on eating outside – you would NEVER see that in North America during the winter, but the Europeans seem to always brave the cold and it's great. Food tastes better outside.

  15. The tuna made me laugh out loud, I'm an expat in southern Europe and it's the same here. And I totally agree on eating outside – you would NEVER see that in North America during the winter, but the Europeans seem to always brave the cold and it's great. Food tastes better outside.

  16. Oh continue to celebrate all the milestones friend, any reason to celebrate life. Congrats on a year and a half of marriage and 6 months in Amsterdam!
    PS: Love your dress, you guys are such a beautiful couple 🙂

  17. Great post! A lot of people think moving to England from the States should be a breeze, but it's a totally different culture- hence my blog being “English as a Second Language”! I've had the opposite with the oven thing, though- we've got a different type of cooker, one that is also the heat source and stays on all the time at a set temp- I hated it, but once I got used to it I dread not having one when we move back Stateside! The shopping hours are a doozy, especially in the winter. When there are only 8-9 hours of daylight I've got to squeeze walking my dogs into those short hours, too- which means errands are often put off until they're absolutely necessary. Congrats on your anniversaries, and here's to another six months of Amsterdam for you!

  18. milestones are always important! any reason to celebrate is a good one, if you ask me. i can't ever let december go by without celebrating our half-iversary! and 6 months in amsterdam! that is huge!

  19. Congrats on a year and a half of marriage, and yay for six months of living in Amsterdam, that's awesome! I have really enjoyed all your posts from Europe, it seems like you're having an amazing time! I know what you mean about how moving can totally strengthen your relationship–my hubby and I have moved 3 times in the past year and a half and when you're not near family and friends it can be really tough and you really have to lean on each other! I also thought it was funny that you feel that you can be so much more adventurous in Amsterdam because I feel like Portland is so much more artsy and adventurous when it comes to fashion in comparison to other parts of the country! 🙂

  20. First, that looks terrifying dining on the frozen canal. How do they know it won't break?!?

    Second, a year and a half in and I still cannot get used to the “dos besos” or two kisses in Spain. And I actually did have an awkward near miss moment with the mom of a high school boy that I tutor. She was wishing me a merry christmas and while it wasn't smack dab on the lips, it was close. AWKKKWARD.

    Happy double anniversaries 🙂

  21. Hihi,
    I'm from Germany, pretty close to the Netherland and I used to spend some month in the USA. Not everything is the same in Germany (no cheek kisses or washer/dryer e.g. :D) buuut still it's very funny to hear those experiences from the other point of view 🙂

  22. An outdoor dining area on an icy canal? ahhh scary!

    & I kinda know how you feel about not wanting your friends to forget all about you. When I lived in Seattle (although only three hours away from Portland) I felt the same way. I did find that the good ones will never forget 🙂

  23. I am exactly the same about milestones – just wait until you have a baby – EVERYTHING is a milestone and EVERYTHING has to be documented accordingly! I say if you have the slightest reason to celebrate something, do it!

    And loved your lists – I've only been to Amsterdam once but lived abroad for many years so it's nice to know a bit more about this foreign place. Some weird food combos will never seem normal (tuna belongs in a sandwich or salad IMHO) but you'll find yourself starting to like things you never thought you would. I remember the first time I had a fried egg on a pizza and thought it was so weird… Now when I see that on a menu, I almost always order it 🙂


  24. congrats on your milestones! I can't imagine moving somewhere neither of you have a support system – I think you're incredibly brave. (And I love the idea of skating across the canals! Makes me think of 18thc paintings.)

  25. congrats on your milestones! I can't imagine moving somewhere neither of you have a support system – I think you're incredibly brave. (And I love the idea of skating across the canals! Makes me think of 18thc paintings.)

  26. congrats on your milestones! I can't imagine moving somewhere neither of you have a support system – I think you're incredibly brave. (And I love the idea of skating across the canals! Makes me think of 18thc paintings.)

  27. I just discovered your blog. I am also an American living in Amsterdam and have to say I relate! Especially the cheek kissing. I never know where to start and have given some “cheekbone bunts” a few times… ouch! Oh well, maybe one day you get the hang of it.. 🙂 Enjoy A'dam!

  28. I think the cheek kissing is everywhere but the US! You'll get used to the metric system. I've been living abroad for over two years now and I'm finding it easier now. I still have problems with length, but I like using grams at the store, you get exactly what you need!

  29. I really love reading about your adventures in Europe! I lived in England a few years ago, and even that was a huge culture shock from America. (Although no cheek kissing – thank goodness!) And my husband and I would like to move to Europe someday, just for a few years – you're making me want to put Amsterdam on our list of potential future homes!

  30. that outdoor dining on the ice is just incredible! so jealous of your travels and life abroad – my boyfriend and I hope one day to do the same for a few years. Happy Anniversary(s)!

  31. I am in awe of you and your husband!! I think it is amazing that you two are living out a dream in Europe!! I would give anything to pack up and go on an adventure. And it definitely sounds like the pros out weigh the cons on your lists.

    I think it's crazy they set-up tables even on the icy canals!! Crazy.

  32. Congrats! Life in Amsterdam sounds awesome! Although I do have to admit that stores closing so early was such a pet peeve of mine too when I was living in Greece. I'm glad I lived close to a 24 hour convenience store. 🙂

  33. i mean, really…i could not agree more with this post. if i had to come up with 10 things i like/hate, i think it would be pretty much identical.

    my favorites: nevermind. i can't even pick. they are all so true!!

    ps excited for tonight – hooray for expats! 🙂

    and of course, congratulations!

  34. I can totally relate, having spent over a year in Norway with my husband. On the food part, same here, some of the things I liked a lot and didn't question and some of the things (like sour cream on pizza) was just too weird. I know it's more expensive than US, but when we visited Amsterdam everything seemed SO cheap in comparison to Oslo!

  35. congrats on making it! that photo on the canal is awesome. what cool experiences you're having. we certainly down dine on frozen water in atlanta 🙂

  36. congrats on your “double” blessings! so glad you like to celebrate all those little milestones like i do 🙂 john and i still celebrate our dating anniversary (which was yesterday!), even though we've been married 4 years! we're moving to Princeton in the summer (very far from fam/friends) and i'm so looking forward to growing in our marriage like you and c. xoxo

  37. All I'm going to say is your friends could NEVER forget you! Despite the distance you remain an amazing friend and not a day goes by I don't think about you, talk about you, or stalk you! Miss you all!

    Also, I totally laughed out loud about the kisses. I mess up every time. Ha ha.

    P.S. This is my first post on your blog.

  38. I mess up the cheek kisses each & every time. I mean, England isn't exactly European but some people still do that, when you least expect it… Woah.
    And we only got a tumble drier the other year. Before that, we hung our washing outside or used the radiators & a clothes horse indoors. We only use the drier for bedding.
    And you don't have tuna on anything in the states? I love tuna with my pasta, yum!
    And Schiphol is heaven. When we went to Amsterdam, I was really not feeling good on our last morning, and it was tipping it down outside with rain, so we arrived at the airport really early. And there's so much to do there! It's crazy.

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