Go Big or Go Dutch

7 Nov

Oh just slap me in the face right now. I haven’t updated this blog for what, 5 months? Dude, I suck! So here’s a recap of my traveling adventures since Coachella 5 months ago:

  • ‘Nawlins (New Orleans, Louisiana). Stuffed my face with Po Boys (juicy sandwiches made with roast beef drippings) and beignets (fancy french name for hole-less donut). It was humid, sticky and had a hard time breathing with all that food in my belly.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands. Interviewed w/ my current employer, rode bikes, ate lots of hotchpotch (hutspot), and almost died in a fire accident while riding in the canals because our boat caught on fire.
  • Truro, Cape Cod. Stayed at a lovely cottage called ‘The Wild Rose’ which made me feel like a giant. It was so tiny – a home for a hobbit. A typical yet cozy New England vacation where we basically ate, slept, drank, beached, and made S’mores.
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands. Dude, I totally moved here! Got a new job pushing that social media button and now I’m living the expat life in my big ol’ Dutch house.
  • Antwerp, Belgium. Such a beautiful city. Was taken here on a special surprise birthday trip (Thanks Davesaur)!

Wait whaaaat? Yeah. Letting it sink in. That’s right. I MOVED TO THE FRICKIN’ NETHERLANDS.

What is it like living in Holland Eindhoven as an American expat?

  • You’ll get sexy Dutch legs from all that biking.
  • You must focus on which arm is stronger and dedicate that arm to holding your umbrella while riding your bike. This is truly a Dutch skill.
  • You get traveling ADD because Europe is at your finger tips and you want to go somewhere new every weekend!
  • The Dutch proudly admit that they are direct & blunt. So I’ve learned to kill my inner human emotions in order to become more Dutch. And I’ve mastered the gutteral ‘gckkk’ sound.
  • Your English will deteriorate faster than Payless shoes. Say goodbye to knowing perfect English based off what ‘sounds right’ because you will be listening to questionable English 24/7 (not pointing fingers at the Dutch or any country in particular, JUST IN GENERAL).
  • Taxi cab drivers are allowed to yell at you. Your server will literally do their job title, and serve you food. Don’t expect anything greater than that in the customer service department. And if they go beyond that expectation, then you can tip them and it’s actually deserved, rather than out of obligation.
  • Planning errands is a must. On weeknights, shops close at or around 6PM. On Sundays, EVERYTHING IS CLOSED, except for coffee shops. The Dutch know how to take it easy that’s for sure.
  • As an expat, I’m constantly mourning these American luxuries: Trader Joe’s, cheap dry cleaning, dryer sheets, Amazon Prime, bank checks, NBA basketball, 24-hour stores, Target, delicious food in general, NETFLIX, not being banned from CBS, FOX and other tv channels online, bed sheets that don’t feel like paper, Pandora.com, cooking with a normal gas & stove oven, and El Palon burritos.
  • You’ll learn that biking everywhere is the best thing EVER. So much better than sitting in traffic!
  • As an expat you will be confused about EVERYTHING. ALL THE TIME. Just smile and nod.
  • Trash disposal is a puzzle to me. My cardboard boxes refuse to be picked up and are left to rot in the rain. Thus I have stored these cardboard boxes in my shed. Also, it appears that there’s no plastic recycling pick-up. Sadface.
  • It can be lonely moving to a foreign country all by yourself for a new job. Even if the city is teeming with expats and people who have gone through your experience, it doesn’t make it any easier.
  • Anti-perspirant doesn’t really exist here, or maybe people just don’t use it – I know this because everytime I go to the gym I want to vomit from the mixture of human stenches. Also, to destroy my capacity to breathe further, the B.O. is pathetically masked by 5 gallons of cologne from Abercrombie & Fitch.
  • R.I.P. STARBUCKS. It doesn’t exist in Eindhoven and I hear there’s only 2 in the entire country. The best coffee you can get is from Dowe Egberts, which opens at 1PM (wtf?!) on Mondays. *SOB*
  • As an expat you will end up with a lot of junk-mail. Everything that can’t be deciphered in English (99.9% of the mail) ends up going into the trash.
  • I AM CONSTANTLY THIRSTY. The beverage portions are the size of my thumb and cost as much as a 6-pack in the U.S. –  Like, 6-pack of 2-liter sodas! The only exception to this rule is BEER. 

Ok, perhaps I’m being a big baby and ranting (but I’m American damn it and I need my goods and convenience!). My experience as an expat in Holland has been very mixed so far, leaning towards extremely homesick for the US. But I know I have to give it time, and to be positive, blah blah blah. It’s amazing – I’ve traveled all over the world and have moved to different cities countless times – but backpacking, studying abroad, and vagabonding/couchsurfing have all been walks in the park compared to this experience of moving abroad for work and becoming an expat.

6 Responses to “Go Big or Go Dutch”

  1. expatriatetaxreturns November 7, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    You have been so busy!

  2. EmilyBiocchi November 8, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    love you and your adventurous spirit Chang now and FOREVERRRRR

    • ChangChaang November 10, 2011 at 5:33 am #

      Thanks Emily! I have to tip my hat to you because you’re one of the people that contributed to my free-spiritedness. Love ya!

  3. jenny November 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    it’s ok, we don’t have NBA right now either. haha :)

    • ChangChaang November 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      I know, it’s so depressing. I don’t understand soccer or rugby. I’m never gonna fit in. Sigh

  4. of rhyme & reason February 27, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    This post was from a long time ago but I’m grateful for it! I felt the same exact things around November, i.e. having to strategically plan errands, everything closed on Sundays, missing American luxuries (CHIPOTLE *sobs*), figuring out trash, deteriorating English, etc etc.. Basically a big ball of culture shock!! But it’s nice to look back and see how much easier it has gotten now that a few months have passed!

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