How did you end up in the Netherlands?
Thanks to my parents, travel has always been a huge part of my life. When I was 12 years old I travelled to England for the first time and I remember telling my mom ‘I’m going to move here’. Every other European country I visited over the years, I repeated the same thing. She told me ‘if you want it, make it happen’, and that’s what I did.
A few months after finishing university I applied for jobs in Amsterdam and London, and after I met my Dutch boyfriend a few months later, the decision was easy.
How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc?
Most of the time I use the term expat. But I’m half German, half Polish, 100% American, and living in the Netherlands, so I also really like the term ‘global citizen’. I feel like I’m a citizen of the world.
How long do you plan to stay?
I have no immediate plans to leave the Netherlands, and I’m really happy where I am right now. I just published my first book and want to see that through, and I really enjoy the Amsterdam lifestyle. You can’t beat Amsterdam on a sunny day.
Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
I do! I’ve been taking Dutch lessons since March 2011. I have one-on-one lessons over Skype with a Dutch woman living in Mexico. We have a great connection and she’s helped me pass the state exams. I can definitely hold conversations, but I wouldn’t consider myself fluent.
What’s your favourite Dutch food?
I’m going to have to go with the Stroopwafel, it’s dessert heaven. If you can’t get the fresh ones, the next best thing is to warm up a packet one and make it extra gooey.
How Dutch have you become?
I’m somewhere in the middle. I love scheduling appointments in advance and biking everywhere. In my humble opinion, I feel like I blend right in with the other Amsterdammers speeding around the city. On the other hand, I definitely don’t eat as much bread as the Dutch, and sometimes I go in for the hug instead of shaking hands or the three kisses.
Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
I’d definitely love to meet Anne Frank, even though she’s technically German. I read her diary as a young girl and visited the house a couple of times and still can’t comprehend what she went through.
Then I’d like to meet the Amsterdam food critic, Johannes van Dam. I thought about contacting him to write the foreword for my book, but unfortunately he passed away before I could ask. I’d love to share a meal with him and get a glimpse inside his reviewing process.
For number three, I would love to have been on the voyage with Abel Tasman, when he discovered Tasmania. To be there when they arrived and to see that pristine nature would be amazing.
I’d like to add a bonus. Snollebollekes has so much energy and sings crazy carnival songs. I’d like to meet him and see what he’s like in a normal conversation.
What’s your top tourist tip?
I’d go to the Doubletree hotel by central station for the best view of Amsterdam. The 11th floor sky lounge is great for a coffee or beer and watching the sun set. I’d say bring good walking shoes too, as walking is still one of the best ways to explore Amsterdam.
Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands.
I’ve recently learned that after the Scandinavians, the Dutch are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. They drink no less than 140 litres of coffee a year on average. That’s 3.2 cups of coffee per person per day!
If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
I’d head out on a boat and sail through the canals of Amsterdam. I love seeing the city from the water. I’d definitely pack a picnic and a bottle of white wine, stop somewhere for bitterballen, and just enjoy the sights.
Jessica’s first book, Flavors of Life, is a collection of biographies about 62 people from around the world who all own restaurants in Amsterdam and has just been published. Find out more via her website.