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  • Gemma Fottles

The Ups and Downs of Living Abroad

So as my last post a long, long time ago stated, I have moved to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one of those places that as soon as I visited, I fell in love with. As soon as my obligatory education was over and I had the chance to, therefore, it made perfect sense for me to just go and live exactly where I wanted to be. What is the use in wasting your time in a place where you just do not want to be? It’s completely illogical to me.

Many people (probably much more sensible and with a few less minus signs in their bank account than me…) would instantly argue: money. Money makes the world go round, after all, and of course we all need money to live. But how much money do we need to live? With a disgusting percentage of the world living on a dollar a day or less, I think it’s been proven that the excess of the Western world is somewhat unwarranted, unfounded, and unnecessary. For me, as long as I got a job whilst in Amsterdam that gave me enough money for rent, food and a beer every now and then, then it was out of the question to stay in Mansfield under my parents roof with my life on hold, just for the possibility of making more money.


With this ideal firmly set in place, I set off for our lovely house boat on the canals of Amsterdam. And I feel like I’ve found myself again. I seem to get a little bit lost when I haven’t got a plan to anywhere but the UK, and coming to the Netherlands made everything exciting again. It’s nearly 4 weeks in and I’m currently holding down three jobs which all work around me, money is – as ever – tight, but okay, I’ve managed to learn how to ride a bike in the city without killing myself. The sun has been shining of late, which always helps, and it’s everything I wanted it to be.

However, living abroad is not travelling. It is not strapping a rucksack to your back, going to a million different places, finding amazing places to drink, eat and visit every single day and living a wondrous life that you’ve always dreamed of, and that is because of that key word there. Life. This is life. The boring bits of life (work, money, rent, food shopping) follow you anywhere, they’re kind of inescapable. At least when you’re settled for a certain period of time.

So what are the ups and downs of living abroad? Well the ups speak for themselves. You’re in a place that you desperately want to be. You are doing something ‘out of the box’, you’re not just existing. You get to experience a new culture, new food, a new language. It’s bloody exciting. But the downs… well the downs are something that aren’t really talked about a lot. Even my blog on living in Amsterdam, there is a selective montage of all the best bits and a distinct lack of the not so fun bits. These include the aforementioned bore of work, but also the things that come with this. Working very little thus having no money = a lot of free time and no money to be able to enjoy some of city. Working a lot and having substantial amounts of money = having no time to enjoy the country that you so desperately wanted to explore.

The boat!

So it’s not all sunshine and roses, and I’m not skipping my way from bar to museum to coffee shop to bar. I am, however, living a version of life exactly as I want to live it. How long I’ll be here, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am happy and this is where I want to be, and really, what else matters?



#Amsterdam #Happiness #Europe #Reality #Expectation #Life #Expat #Netherlands

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