(Wikipedia) ‘An Expatriate (often shortened to Expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).
This blog aims to discover people who are adventurers like me, venturing out in a new place to call home and creating memories. I have previously lived with my parents and siblings in the Saudi Arabia when I was in high school. I have enjoyed and cherished my memories in the beautiful Sandbox I once called my home. Now, I am in a new adventure with my husband and son here in Singapore.
I am featuring Expats in different countries every two weeks to share their experiences and adventures with you and me.
Today’s featured expat is one of my favourite bloggers. I am so excited to be featuring her! I have included her in my list of 5 Inspiring Blogs. She also take beautiful photos. Meet Deepa, the person behind Currystrumpet Blog.
1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are originally from?
I’m a freelance copywriter and content producer from Manila, the Philippines. I live in Amsterdam with my husband of eight years Marlon, our two year-old daughter Tala, and our cat Rogue, who is about the same age as our marriage.
- What made you decide to move to Amsterdam? How long have you been there?
We’ll be celebrating our fifth year in Amsterdam this coming January 2016. The story of how we got to Amsterdam is something people always find interesting. Marlon and I were living in Singapore, but I started getting restless after about two years. I wanted to do some long term travel as a last hurrah before trying to start a family, or try to move somewhere totally different from both Singapore and Manila where we could also see ourselves raising children. So we listed cities we wanted to live in and companies based in those cities, and started looking for work. Someone gave Marlon the email address of a VP in Philips, a Dutch multinational headquartered in Amsterdam. Marlon just went for it – he emailed this total stranger out of the blue with his CV and a killer cover letter. He got an offer, we quit our jobs in Singapore, and nine months later we moved to Amsterdam.
- Previously you lived in Singapore too, what are the things you miss living in Singapore?
I miss the FOOD most of all! Singapore is an incredible foodie culture, with an amazing variety of the best and most affordable Asian cuisines practically on every street corner. I used to work next to Maxwell Market, and enjoyed superb lunches everyday. I miss black pepper crab, kaya toast, cereal prawns, roti prata… if I start thinking about all the food I miss, I’m just going to get hungry and depressed! I also miss being just three hours away from Manila, and being able to go swimming outdoors every day.
- What are the wonderful discoveries and things you like about Amsterdam?
Where do I begin?! In general, I love the Dutch obsession with gezelligheid, or coziness. It’s hard to explain, but they are experts at making their homes and shared spaces cozy, warm and cocooning.
I love the cycling culture, even if I only really learned to ride a bicycle because I knew we were moving here.
About Amsterdam specifically, I love carrying out my ordinary errands and living daily life against the picturesque backdrop of the 17th century canals. It’s so pretty, sometimes I can’t believe I really live here. I love how laid-back, compact and casual it is compared to most major capital cities, yet it is still forward-thinking and vibrant, full of art, culture, design and so many things to do. Finally, I love the work-life balance here. It has been great for our young family. It’s really about working to live, not living to work.
- What are the 3 advices or tips you can give to fellow expats in Amsterdam?
Make an effort to learn the language, even if it’s difficult. The city and its personality really opened up to me when I started learning Dutch. It felt less rude and more welcoming when I could understand the little neighborly jokes the locals make to each other, instead of just tuning out conversations around me.
Invest in good rain gear. It rains constantly, and umbrellas are useless in the wind. I waited so long before buying a good, functional rain coat and boots because I was so picky about how things looked on me. My raincoat is not the prettiest, but I go everywhere on my bike in it and my daughter and I can go out and play in the rain instead of being stuck at home. You can have fun even in crappy weather.
Get sunshine in a bottle. I underestimated how much the lack of sun would affect me. I started taking Vitamin D supplements during my third winter here, when I noticed a severe drop in my mood, productivity and energy. It makes such a huge difference, trust me! And go out and get some sun every chance you can.
- The LITTLE MISS HONEY community gets inspired through travel, food and books. Can you tell us your current FAVORITE TRAVEL SPOT, current FOOD/RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES and current FAVORITE BOOK?
Current favorite travel spots: It will always be India and Iceland. Both have amazing landscapes and complex, fascinating cultures. I could keep going back to both again and again for years. Both places have marked significant chapters in my life. Our honeymoon was in Rajasthan, India, and we did a road trip around Iceland without knowing that I was already pregnant with Tala. I thought I was exhausted because we did so much hiking, but when I got home I discovered I was carrying a little passenger. I’m so glad we did Iceland before having a baby!
Iceland Glacier Lake
Iceland Hallgrimskirka church
Current favorite foodie discovery: Croatian wine. We spent last summer in Croatia which has incredible (and affordable) food and wine. Croatian cuisine is heavily influenced by Italy, particularly along the Dalmatian coast, which was ruled by Venice for centuries.
Croatia is also a wine-growing country whose wines aren’t widely distributed abroad for many economic, historical and political reasons. On our last stop in Dubrovnik, we lived a few doors down from D’Vino, the best wine bar in town. We were there every night and hoarded five bottles of wine to take home. I fell in love with Dingac, a powerful, full-bodied red with a distinctive (and addictive) bouquet, or aroma. I could stick my nose in a glass of Dingac for hours. Prosec, a sweet dessert wine, is also delicious served over ice.
Croatia with Tala
Current favorite book: Mating in Captivity by psychotherapist Esther Perel. She’s a relationship therapist who explores the concepts of love, desire, freedom, independence and eroticism in modern committed relationships. Her TED talk on ‘rethinking infidelity’ that really got me thinking about things that are viewed as taboo in the context of marriage. My husband and I have had some wonderfully deep, eye-opening conversations after reading the book together.
- Where do you get your inspirations? Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by discovery. I’m constantly looking for new things to do and see. Steve Jobs once said that creativity is connecting the dots, and that creative people have diverse experiences thus more dots to connect. I’m constantly chasing new dots.
- I am a big fan of your blog! Share with my readers what your blog is about. Besides your blog, do you contribute for other magazine or online sites?
I am the author of a personal blog called Currystrumpet, which is a nickname my husband gave me when we started dating. I blog about my life in Amsterdam and travels around Europe (I am addicted to travel!), as well as about my family, home, and creative pursuits like watercolor, calligraphy, writing and photography. I occasionally give in to requests for guest posts on a handful of other blogs, and recently I became a contributor to Plump, the Philippines’ first magazine dedicated to plus size fashion and body positive lifestyle.
- I love love love your photos on your blog. What camera do you use? Indulge us with some photography tips for fellow bloggers.
I use a Canon 550D, but I’m looking for something smaller since it’s not really convenient to carry around a big camera when I’m with my daughter. I mostly use a 50mm prime lens because it’s small and discreet, but gives great sharpness and depth of field (that soft blurry background which makes portraits so nice). It’s been a great investment for me and my favorite photos are the ones I’ve taken with it.
For blogging, I find that photos with a vertical (portrait) orientation do better on my blog and are more frequently shared on Pinterest. Learning to tweak the exposure (brightness) and saturation of my photos has made a world of difference, especially in Amsterdam where it’s gloomy and grey most of the year. I use Photoshop actions to save time when editing on my desktop; there are many you can download for free. Just find a look that suits your blog and your style and use it consistently. On my phone I use Snapseed and VSCOcam to edit photos for Instagram. Instagram is an abundant source of inspiration; by following great photographers you can train your eye over time to recognize what makes a good photo.
- Lastly, can you share with us what is your inspirational mantra in life?
I don’t really have one, but my blogging philosophy is: Live now, write later. I believe in doing it now, making it fun, and keeping it real. Then writing all about it when I finally have a moment to myself. Go out and create; come home and capture. Each day, I try to wander a little bit further. Dream just a little bit bigger. Be just a little bit different. And doing that gives me just a few more stories to tell.
Thank you Deepa for sharing your Amsterdam story with us. It is definitely interesting to get to know an expat in Amsterdam. I wish my family and I can visit Amsterdam someday. Come visit Singapore soon and let’s have some kaya toast and kopi.
Deepa, you truly inspire us with your zest for adventure, your positive aura and your passion for life. For more of Deepa, check out her blog: Currystrumpet. and to see more of her beautiful snaps, here is her instagram account. I assure you’ll become a fan of her blog and instagram account in no time. She is pretty amazing!
If you are an expat or know any expats who are interested to be featured, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.”