Amsterdam is usually associated with a cult night life and an open policy towards light vices and extreme ways of entertainment. But what exactly lies behind our superficial view of this progressive, eccentric and unique city, and what makes intelligent young people want to stay?
By Asen Nedyalkov
Do you remember the last time you were searching for a free seat in the tram and by the time you’ve reached its end, you’ve already heard more than five foreign languages? I doubt you do, unless you live in a cosmopolitan city. Talking about international environment, few European cities can match Amsterdam, which shelters a mere 180 nationalities. Surely this will be the first shock you will experience when you arrive at the famous Central Station – one of the most beautiful historical monuments right in the heart of the city. Undoubtedly, this multinational environment attracts many students. Which 20-year-old person does not want to develop his life with open doors to the whole world? This is quite possible here. The charm of Amsterdam hides in its amazing parks, small narrow streets, extravagant and yet classy architecture, complemented by lovely canals which seem to be painted by an artist. Wherever you are from, you will find a way to feel at home.
Life of Culture
Behind the attractive exterior lies a rich cultural life. The majestic Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank’s House, the Museum of Cinema and the Maritime Museum… along with these popular places, there are numerous small art galleries, jazz clubs with live music, cinemas for alternative movies – a palette of artistic possibilities for every taste. The colour of the city is complemented by the world-famous tulips and their countless varieties. Each year in the Keukenhof park near Amsterdam, called the Garden of Europe, around 7 million bulb flowers are planted on an area of 32 hectares. This beautiful place attracts guests from all over the world. Amsterdam is the city that overfeeds you with huge doses of everything your soul and mind desire.
The fairy tale gets slightly darker with all the challenges awaiting young people arriving in Amsterdam. Every year there are over 10,000 new students from all over the world and the compact scale of the city definitely does not help. Housing competition is tremendous. Living alone is an almost impossible luxury. If you want to succeed, start looking for shared apartments early, use licensed websites and also look in all student facebook groups, but cautiously because they often hide both answers and scammers. Look for a home with the option to register, rather than a sublet, because it gives you the official status of citizen with all of the privileges. For example, the chance to find a legal job.
You cannot go far downtown without seeing a job advert at a small hotel, restaurant or shop. Naturally, there are scammers, but they can be found in all major cities. The huge plus of Amsterdam is the well developed market for food delivery. There are several companies engaged in this business, constantly looking for people. This is one of the most popular options for local students because of the convenient working time and flexibility in selecting working areas. Health care is also accessible to everyone. Social systems work well and one is relatively easily oriented through the different administrative levels. The truth is that everything will seem like a child’s game once you find your home – the biggest challenge in Amsterdam.
But the efforts are worthwhile. Student, working expat or tourist, everyone feels the charm of this city full of challenges and creativity.
As a true fan of club culture, I think I would not choose to spend my weekends anywhere else than in Amsterdam. The enormous cultural diversity contributes to the rich nightlife. Night parties in museums, live music every night in almost all clubs, places for alternative music, popular music, hip hop, techno, reggae, music from the world, theatres, musicals – there is no unsatisfied desire. Nightlife never stops in Amsterdam. Naturally, the city has a “night mayor” – Shamiro Van der Geld – an artist with a complex background whose only goal for his three year mandate is to “make nightlife better, more beneficial and interesting to people from all over the world”. This includes the legalisation of prostitution and marijuana, which was legalised in the distant 1970s. The progressive leadership makes it possible to turn these otherwise shady businesses into controlled activities which also benefit the city’s economy. Today in the Netherlands 24% of the population uses marijuana, whereas in France, for example, where it is officially banned, 40% are “Green smokers”.
The freedom and opportunities of the city nourish and develop the overall cohesion, creativity and culture of this colourful mass of people and nationalities. That’s what attracts so many young, curious and intelligent people. Everything that happens in Amsterdam sticks to this logic.