As a volunteer in ministry in Amsterdam, there are some things you should know about the city. Your ‘Need To Know’-guide to thriving during your time in Amsterdam.
1. Cafes, not coffee shops
First of all big misunderstandings in Amsterdam. So, one is actually selling coffee, and it isn’t the one with the word ‘coffee’ in it.
2. Don’t confuse sidewalks with roads
What is a vague formality in other countries is a truly important distinction in Amsterdam. Sidewalks are for people; roads are for bikes and cars. DON’T confuse the two!
3. The first floor is actually floor zero
Especially relevant for the Americans among us. Just get used to it…
4. Seed shops are not selling flowers
Amsterdam’s legal marijuana use is a well-known fact and even a tourist draw to the city, but one’s first walk through the different streets can be a rather surprising experience for the average non-Dutchie.
5. Crosswalks matter
In Amsterdam, crosswalks are not there to look nice. They help you stay alive in the crazy streets full of cars, bikes, and pedestrians!
6. Don’t use canals as a landmark – they all look the same!
They’re all long, filled with water, and have a lot of bridges. It’ll be tempting to use the canals as a meeting place. Don’t! Unless you’ve truly studied your chosen canal and know how to distinguish it from many others. Rather we would like to advice you to take the advice of number 7.
7. The tall church with the blue crown is your new North Star
Really, though – you can see it anywhere. The Dutchies call it “Westerkerk” – everyone else calls it “The Tall Church.”
8. Pedestrians are the lowest form of man
To hear Amsterdam called the Cyclist City and to actually witness it are two different things. When going for a walk, just remember that pedestrians don’t truly have the right of way. Be careful and look both ways!
9. When seeing the Anne Frank House, bring a folding chair, not a watch
Please do be prepared to wait a minimum of two hours in line to see the Anne Frank House. Going at odd hours of the day won’t help – the line is always crazy!
10. You’ll leave the Netherlands telling people what you actually think, instead of what you think they want to hear
The Dutch truly are the most direct people in the world. It’ll start to rub off on you – and that’s a good thing!