Maria was working in Florianopolis, Brazil doing some amazing UX work when we first got in touch. We helped her to move over to Amsterdam in August 2014 to start designing amazing things in Europe! She had the chance to go back home to Brazil to get married, but she's really enjoying life in Amsterdam. Read her story and tips on life in The Netherlands below!
How was the process of moving from Brazil to the Netherlands?
In many ways moving to such a different country is a difficult and complicated decision. You have to be ready for everything that might come up and be sure of your choice, because it will be hard sometimes, and if you’re not sure about it, your experience might be a lot harder than you thought.
I’ve lived abroad before, but this was the first time I moved because of work, so I didn’t know what to expect. Booking.com has a wonderful relocation program, and made the process of moving a lot less complicated. I felt secure because they helped me with whatever I needed. The most important insight about the process was understanding that things weren’t going to happen the way I was used to, the food I liked, the type of places I used to go to, the weather, the culture and the people are different. Once you have that in mind, I suppose things are easier to absorb, and you realize everything is different in a good way, so that instead of having culture shock with each barrier you encounter, you actually learn to love the country you chose to live in :)
As an expat how much do you feel at home in the city of Amsterdam?
I adapted quite quickly to Amsterdam. It’s a city that has a lot of expats and it’s very friendly to new people. I have never had any problems with speaking english in stores and at the market, and even though I did take some Dutch classes provided by Booking.com I never really had to use it. People are very friendly, in their own way and unusual sense of humor, and anytime I had a problem people were very helpful and nice. During summer there are around 200 festivals, when Amsterdam comes to life and people fill the streets. The Dutch people love the sun, which is different to what I was used to in Brazil. Usually we avoid the sun, because it’s very strong and can be harmful, but in the Netherlands there isn’t much sunshine, so anytime the sun comes out people go to the parks and open spaces to enjoy it. The parks get crowded with parties, barbecues and sports. It really is a great time to be in Amsterdam! I can say, after one year living here that the city has a cozy environment that makes you feel at home in no time.
Are you able to make the most of your spare time? What activities do you like doing in Amsterdam?
Definitely the biggest change coming from Brazil was the improvement in my life quality. It was common for me to work extra hours and spend a long time in traffic, and here we are encouraged to have a very balanced life between work and personal time. Also cycling to work has completely changed my life, I feel I’m healthier and that my view of the city changed drastically. Amsterdam has hundreds of museums, and you can get a 50 euro card to have unlimited access to most of them for 1 year, which gives you plenty to do on the weekends! There’s also plenty of nightlife, and it’s very common for people to go to pubs after work for drinks!
What still surprises you about Amsterdam?
After more than one year living here, I am still amazed at how unbelievably beautiful this city is. I walk around the canals and it still takes my breath away!
What tips and advice would you give someone who's moving to the Netherlands?
To keep your mind open and to enjoy what the country has to offer. What I love most about this country is that most things that are still taboo in other places are just part of Dutch life and everyone not only lives with it, but also respects it. I think that’s truly amazing. I’d also recommend you download the following apps: Buienalarm, to know exactly when the rain is starting/ending, and 9292, so you know where and which train/tram to get.