Goodbye, Amsterdam

Thomas Schoffelen

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be leaving Amsterdam at the end of November and moving back to London. That is, of course, if Boris doesn’t screw it all up in October... But let’s be optimistic and expect that EU citizens will still be free to work and live in the UK after October 31.

I’ll be leaving Amsterdam after having lived here for three years. Although my love for London continues to grow, I’ve also definitely developed a special place in my heart for Amsterdam.

Why? This is why:

Nope, not those things!

If you’ve never visited the city before (or only ever visited a small subsection of the city center), the first thing that might spring to mind is the legal prostitution and legal weed. Although the latter is great, it’s definitely not wat defines this city, and as a resident of the city you won’t really get in contact with the former usually, thankfully.

Also, forget about tulips, wooden clogs or windmills. The only places where you will find those things in the capital is in the form of cheap keychains and postcards in tourist shops.

A world village

Enough about what this city isn’t. What it is, is a very centrally located transportation hub that easily connects you with most of the world. We have Schiphol, the 11th biggest airport in the world, with roughly 80 million passengers per year, record tourism numbers, and a rich culture of trade with every part of the earth.

At the same time, being in Amsterdam usually doesn’t feel like being in a world city. With less than a million citizens, cozy neighbourhoods, and people with a super relaxed attitude, Amsterdam can often feel more like a large village. That’s why our old mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who sadly passed away in 2017, used to call Amsterdam a “world village”.

Diverse and open

I love how this city celebrates its citizens. An important part of that is the Canal Pride Parade that takes place yearly, and that has grown from a LBTQ-thing into a general Amsterdam thing, where not only all sorts of people from the city come out to take part or watch from the bridges across the canals, but people from all over the world come to enjoy our day of pride and freedom.

Tourism

Many Dutch people complain about the amount of tourists in the capital, and it creates real problems in certain circumstances. For me, however, the fact that there’s so much tourism has helped me put things into perspective and enjoy the city more.

Every morning on my way to work and every evening coming back home, I cross over a bridge just around the corner from my apartment. The bridge gives an amazing view over the canal, so you’ll always find people snapping photos there, sometimes just of the canal, but more often of themselves or their family members, with the canals as their backdrop. Every time I see that it makes me smile: I never have to take pictures to remember what a beautiful place it is, I live right next door to the things that tourists from other parts of the world come here to see.


Of course that’s far from an exhaustive list; public transport is pretty good, people are friendly and helpful, it’s a growing hub for startups, and so much more.

Thanks Amsterdam, I’ve really enjoyed being here!

Thomas Schoffelen

Written by

Entrepreneur tech kid, co-founder of NearSt, Londoner, open source enthusiast and aspiring spare time literature geek.

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