Ashley Howe is a freelance writer who blogs at Amsterdam Blog. Her favourite things are getting completely lost in Amsterdam, eating out and cooking up a storm in her kitchen. She grew up in the UK, and after five months of travelling around the world she found herself in Amsterdam.
When you’re travelling, sometimes there are places that you fall in love with in a heartbeat. You keep coming back, or you stay so long (because you can) until eventually you cross a line and switch from being a tourist, to being a local. But how can you tell when you’ve crossed this invisible line?
1. You’ve picked up enough of the language to understand what is going on around you. This can take a while. I’ve been living in Amsterdam for over two years now. My first Dutch lesson was a little unconventional - my teacher went through all of the swear words with us. Now I can understand what’s happening, if anyone is cheeky or rude to me in Dutch, these come out at an alarming rate.
2. You can tell a local something they don’t know about their own city. This has happened to me a few times, and it always makes me feel good when someone looks at me in astonishment and asks ‘how do you know that?’
3. You find yourself seeking out bars that only the locals go to, and now the bartender in your new local knows what you want to order before the words have even come out of your mouth.
4. You have made at least two friends who come from the city you’re in. This can take a while since being a local in a new city you are surrounded by people who have forged strong friendships over the years and you’re outside of their circle. Getting in can be difficult (I say this with experience).
5. You’ve bought a transport card to blend in. This was one of the first things I did. I don’t want people to start talking to me in English when I look a bit lost on the tram; I want to try out my Dutch.
6. You avoid speaking in your native language at all costs – you might attract some unwanted attention. This happened almost immediately on arrival, except with people I actually knew. In restaurants I just muddle through and hoped for the best! Even when they replied in English, I would keep on in Dutch.
7. You have ditched the guidebook completely. You know exactly where you’re going and how to get there.
8. You love the local delicacies, and order them at every available opportunity. My favourite things, especially in the winter are oliebollen. Bitterballen is my go-to bar snack.
9. You feel like you know your way around without a map. Now, I can usually find somewhere in the centre without a map, but in the beginning I was constantly lost. Navigating is not my strong point, so this felt like a real achievement.
10. You know about some of the unusual cultural traditions or celebrations, and have been to all of them. In the Netherlands, the strangest is Sinterklaas arriving in the Netherlands with his Zwarte Piet.
11. You’ve been to most of the tourist attractions in the city, and tell other travellers which ones to avoid, and which are worth it.
12. You hate it when people walk around wearing tacky souvenir hats or jumpers and would rather be seen dead than get caught wearing your Amsterdam bobble hat. Yes, it’s warm and cosy, no, I am not going to wear it.
13. You’ve stopped converting currency back to your native currency. You just know how much stuff costs. Maths is a thing of the past, but it was complicated. Now, I don’t care how much it is in pounds, I just accept the price in euros.
14. You’ve started using apps and websites aimed at the locals instead of tourists to find the best places to go. Iens is top of my list. I love finding good restaurants.
15. You’ve decided that you’re going to rent out an apartment for a while, and stay much longer than you had previously planned.
So, have you switched from a tourist to a local? What do you think? Are there any other warning signs you should be looking out for?
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Juliana Roes said
Manuela Ferrer said