Cobblestones? Say Goodbye to Your Heels.

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Written by  October 2, 2018

After over a year abroad, my life has changed in lots of little ways. 

We are halfway into our second year in Amsterdam, and after a few trips back to Canada, I am starting to really realize the changes in myself.

I’m not necessarily talking about growing more independent, getting over culture shock or learning how to understand Dutch on a menu. I’m talking full-on personal habits that changed organically, without forcing it on myself.

Beauty routine be gone

There was a time in the not so distant past when I would not leave our house without a full face of makeup: cover-up, foundation, eyeliner, the works. This, coupled with a full blow-out and straighten session, was part of my morning routine seven days a week.

Nowadays? I really have no qualms if I’m recognized on the street bare-faced. In fact, my skin has improved since I stopped piling on the chemicals. As for my hair, it's basic math. One hour spent perfecting those flyaways, minus one hour spent commuting in the rain equals ruined hair. So what's the point? 

Now don’t get me wrong: I do fancy-up on weekends when heading out, but I now have an extra five hours a week to use elsewhere.

This is also translated to how I dress. I still accessorize (I could never give up my vintage jewellery collection), but it's more minimal here. And while shoes are one of the loves of my life, biking or hobbling across cobblestones (on the edge of a canal, no less) is not an environment for stilettos. Add some booze and you're head for trouble. Here, chunky heels or flats work best. 

I no longer one-stop-shop

In many places in North America, it’s pretty common to grab your groceries once a week, usually at one-stop shops like Costco, Walmart, or other large grocery store chains. They have grocery stores here of course; however, I find the norm for us has drifted to more frequent stops and smaller loads. This could be since lots of Amsterdamers do not have cars and are likely travelling by bike or foot. Or since a lot of apartments here have smaller kitchens and fridges, with less cupboard room. (Personally, we do not like the multiple trips; one and done is better.) 

Indulging means something different

I may, or may not, drink a bit more. I’m not talking bar hopping on nightly bases until 3 am. But most meals will include a hearty glass of wine. It’s not tough in Amsterdam as wine is incredibly cheap. And pretty much anytime the sun is out everyone flocks to a patio. No matter what month it is, they may even provide blankets for you if it's chilly. 

In Toronto my morning, afternoon, and often late-night commute included a stop at Tim Hortons, Starbucks or Second Cup for a comforting cup of java. Half the time I was still asleep and managed to order my usual and finish it before I even realized it. The koffie here is great (a coffee shop with a C can mean something else entirely in Amsterdam), and the lattes are endless. You can even find the odd Starbucks, although unfortunately no Tims. However, now I make my own morning cup of Joe in a thermos. I’m not sure what the European thing to do is, but most people have their own coffee machines at home. Maybe subconsciously I just do it to save money for travel, but I am quite content brewing my own cup every morning and taking some time to actually enjoy it sitting down (with no makeup or heels on of course).

Have you experienced any of these changes? What has transformed in your daily routine since moving abroad? 

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Melissa Verwey

Melissa Verwey is a Canadian performer who has been residing in Amsterdam for the last year. Her career has included acting in over 20 plays, coupled with over a decade of working behind the scenes in TV and Theatre Production.

Website: www.melissaverwey.actor

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