Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Journey to Amsterdam

Yesterday I jumped on a couple planes that took me across the world and became a resident of the Netherlands. The journey here was an adventure in itself. 

When I found out I was moving to Amsterdam my friend Kim offered me one of her buddy passes with Delta. One-way flights were around $1,700 so I was grateful. Flying standby means you find the flight with the most open seats and take a chance one will be available after everyone has boarded. 

Our original plan was for me to fly out Friday from SJC > MSP > AMS. But after talking to Kim on Wednesday evening there weren't many seats available on those routes and she asked if I could leave on Thursday around 1pm through SJC. I thought "Why not?" 

At 8am, while I was in meetings, Kim messaged me that the best flight options were to leave from SFO at noon. It takes an hour to get to SFO. It felt impossible to finish up what I needed to do for work, get myself to SFO, and get on a 12:05 flight. I finished up my meeting, saw it was 9am, and told Kim "Let's do it!" I called for a Lyft, finished packing my bags, and was on the curb in ten minutes. My stress level was 42 on a scale of 1-10. I am not a “fly by the seat of your pants” person when it comes to arriving at the airport. I like to be there three hours early, grab a drink at the lounge, and be at the gate well before I need to. 

My driver was Andre' from Ecuador. Andre' and I spent the entire hour sharing our life stories. I was so grateful for the diversion from worrying if I would make the flight and he had killer skills at navigating an accident on our way to SFO so I didn't lose my shit. We hugged upon my departure I was so grateful for the conversation (and he was a smokin' hot Latino). 

I never check a bag. Never. Today I had two bags to check (45.5 lbs & 41.5 lbs to be exact). It was the first time I had ever rented a cart at an airport. Everything I own is in those four bags. Crazy. 

I was told I needed to check in one hour before the flight and I made it by three minutes. No stress, right? I made my way to TSA and realized I didn't get pre-check. I have not gone ‘with the commoners’ in years. The TSA guy was yelling instructions and I could not understand him. I was asking the guy in front of me what he was saying and he said “I don’t know. I think they change the rules every day just to fuck with us". We were instant friends. 

I arrived at the gate 30 minutes before the fight was departing, which is not my norm. It was 8 minutes later I was assigned a seat. In Comfort+! Woohoo. 

It was an uneventful flight. I got myself an eSIM for when I landed in Amsterdam, grabbed an extra night in my hostel as I was arriving early, and updated my work email notifications that I was moving across the world and would be slow to respond the next couple of days. Ya, I'm not taking time off for this move because why not add a bit more crazy to the fun? 

When I landed in Detroit I called Henry. Kim reassured me my chances of getting on the final flight to AMS were looking good. My stress level went to an 8 out of 10. But it wasn't until I was seated on that flight that I thought, "Holy shit, I am moving to Amsterdam!" 

During the flight I made the decision to take the following day off so I worked all night preparing my colleagues for the day. It was a super productive flight and my adrenaline was sky high. I landed in AMS after a great flight and was SO happy to see my IKEA duffel bags survived. I would 100% recommend them. I will fold them up and use for my next move. 

I grabbed an Uber and made my way to the hostel where I will stay three nights until I get the keys to my flat. After checking in I showered and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was asleep. It felt good to sleep for a couple hours. I am staying in the neighborhood where my apartment is located. I found an uber-cute cafe and grabbed some dinner. On my way, I walked through Oosterpark. It was surreal to think this was my new home.

Overall, it was a wonderful 24 hour journey. Although my stress level was off the charts in the morning I am so glad I went with my gut and so grateful for not only Kim's Delta Buddy Pass but her support along the way. I fucking live in Amsterdam!


Sunday, September 10, 2023

I'm Moving to Amsterdam!

Two years ago I wrote a post I'm Moving to California and today I can hardly believe I'm writing I'm moving to Amsterdam! Although I found out seven weeks ago and will get on a plane in 18 days I cannot believe it is happening. In 1992 I went to Europe for the first time. My sister Rhonda was living there for a year through an exchange program with her employer and on the flight home my dream of working in Europe began. It may have taken me thirty years to fulfill that dream but in a few days, I will head to the Netherlands where I am starting a new role as Engagement Manager for ServiceNow. 

Why Amsterdam? I have been telling everyone at ServiceNow my story since I started here two years ago. I would have moved anywhere but Europe is the easiest for Americans without any language skills. When I accepted the job on the EMEA team they said I could live in any western or northern country within Europe. I considered London and Amsterdam and chose Amsterdam because it is located in the EU, has a great airport, only requires five years before you can apply for Dutch citizenship, and the government gives highly skilled employees a 30% discount on taxes. That is huge considering their tax rate is 52%! Plus, it is an uber-cool city with a very high quality of life.

This move has a few more complicated steps than my previous move from Minnesota to California

  1. Get a new job. I came to ServiceNow two years ago because I was looking for a company where I could transfer internationally. As an American, in order to stay in Europe longer than the 90 days allowed every 180 days you have to be sponsored by an employer. This is no small feat in this macro economy that has created tight hiring practices. But I set a goal to meet one or two new people every week and finally, someone said yes! 
  2. Apply for permanent residency in the Netherlands. ServiceNow hired a service to assist with the paperwork but I will say being organized and anal has helped with the process. I was so excited when I got the email last week that the Dutch government approved my application!
  3.  Secure housing. This will be my 7th move in 8 years and this has been by far the most challenging search for housing. Amsterdam is experiencing a significant housing shortage. I hired a broker, which is common in Amsterdam. She worked with me similar to how a real estate agent does in the States. In order to secure a rental you must attend viewings before applying so she was my "boots on the ground" as well as navigating the entire system in Dutch. I would attend these viewings via video which may not seem difficult but I am nine hours different than NL so they were between midnight and 6am! I burned both ends of the candle for a couple weeks before I was approved for a lovely flat near Oosterpark (see photos below). 
  4. Find a place to purge my stuff. My goal is to fly over with my best friend Briggs & Riley (aka carry-on) and two IKEA duffle bags thanks to my minimalism. Everything else in my current apartment has to go. I do not own much but the big stuff is what is hard to get rid of because I don't want to get rid of my bed until I no longer need it because sleeping on a hard floor at age 56 is no fun. 
  5. Say goodbye. I plan to write a post about my time in San Jose but in short, my time in California has been amazing. I have met some wonderful people who accepted me as a local and fell in love as well. But as I did with Minnesota I am not running away from a home as much as I am running toward a new one. 
  6. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself. This step was on my list for my previous move and it remains the same for this one. Of course, I am nervous but I am beyond excited as well. I simply focus on tackling one task at a time and soon I will find myself waking up on the other side of the world.
  7. Jump on an airplane that will take you to your new home. I am flying out September 29, or as the Europeans say "the 29th of September". 

Below are a few photos of my apartment and photos of Amsterdam that I am so excited to see in real life. Holy shit I am moving to Amsterdam! 

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I have a balcony!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

MSP: The Great Minnesota Get-Together

I visited my 'home state' of Minnesota over Labor Day weekend. It was filled with checking some things off my to-do list as well as having fun. I wanted to put some things into storage so I checked an IKEA duffle bag. It was awesome! I had considered it for my move to California but changed to using boxes at the last minute because I was worried it would not hold up but it was great. The best part is it collapses down to nothing for the return home.

When we arrived Henry helped me move my storage from Eagan to Coon Rapids. It was half the price and closer to Paradis' new home in Circle Pines. All of it fit in one load. Some nomads pride themselves on not having storage but when I touched all the items I confirmed these are things that are important for me to keep. It is basically three totes of collection jars, four totes of photo albums, and one tote of misc. memorabilia. Annelies also has a few totes. I love the Minneapolis skyline.

We stopped at Paradis and Parker's home, met their new feline child Fern, and checked out all the work they had done on their home. I am just so proud of the two of them and how they are adulting. My children are the reason I can do this nomad thing. They are independent and make me feel comfortable knowing they are killing life!

On Friday, Annelies drove up from Mankato State University, and Paradis and I met her at the bank to move my safe deposit box. Again, we discussed just getting rid of it but it gives me comfort knowing everything is organized for my girls upon my demise. 

My friend Lina was gracious enough to host us for the weekend and on Friday night cooked us an amazing Ethiopian meal. It was truly delicious. Henry was in heaven. 

On Saturday Henry and I went to the great Minnesota get-together with the kids. It was hot. I'm not talking 80 degrees and sunny hot but "that state nearly killed me with its humidity" hot. I miss so many things about Minnesota but the weather is not one of them. Yes, that is a fan around my neck and no it did not help much. 

On Sunday we drove to Lake Minnetonka and had brunch with Lori and Bob. It was fun showing Henry the boating life in Minnesota. 

We made our way to Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall because I wanted to try my luck at creating a rubbing of a sewer cover. I ordered more supplies because I would love to hang these in my home. The supplies are small enough to bring along on trips and I think they will look cool on my walls. Yes, another item I am collecting. Sigh. 

It was a great weekend. I'm not sure when I will return but Minneapolis will always be my "home" and MSP will always be my "home airport".