Today is my 1 year anniversary since coming to live in The Netherlands! A year in The Netherlands has taught me so much about myself and my world around me. It’s been an emotional ride but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
What have I accomplished?
I became a Dutch resident! While I have not learned the language yet, my permanent addresses is North Holland based! This happened back in November of last year but even now it’s something I like to think about. When we were at LAX checking our tickets in, people would ask when my return date was. My answer was “I’m not, I live there now.” So exciting to say!
Which brings me to my next accomplishment. Views to this blog have more than doubled in the past 6 months! I’m so excited and so thankful that enough people gave me a chance to at least read one or two posts. I’m always learning on how to better this space and I know I’ve got a long way to go. The support of the anonymous views gives me the strength to go on. I can always write for myself, but I want something to happen with this space. I want it to thrive.
What did I discover?
I missed my family more than I thought I would.
Dutch food is so strange sometimes.
I lived a more minimalist lifestyle. Not quite how most people describe it, but I cut back on a lot of things.
I also relearned how to ride a bike. I was 9 when I had last been on a bike. Now so comfortable on wheels but it wasn’t easy! It took us a few months before we found the perfect fit for me. Now that I have it, I love going out when it’s not raining. Now I need a sturdy basket for Booker to sit in and we’ll be all set!
What did I treasure?
Every moment with Sander is a moment in the sun. Dating internationally was difficult.
Booker came to live with us in November and we’ve never been happier.
What disappointed me?
The lack of exciting holidays here! Every month in America has at least one prominent holiday. I felt we had with fun events and delicious treats all year long. It could be the community here but it’s mellow when it comes to celebrations. The only time it gets crazy is New Year’s Day.
My final impressions
The lifestyle I lead right now is opposite of what I used to lead in America. It possesses a calmer and more environmental atmosphere. The simple beauty seems to outweigh many of the hard times I’ve been facing. More of that in the next section. I have Sander’s companionship and we take long walks with Booker every day. We rarely watch television (only during meals). Reading is a common discussion topic. Moving in with him has been the best decision I’ve made.
The language is hard to pronounce (those damn sch- words!). While I can make out a sentence here and there, it’s not much. When it comes to the lack of knowledge I have, I don’t blame anyone but myself. I have several books and lessons but I get busy working on this space. Not to mention I’m grinding out a secret project with a friend of mine. I find it hard to have down time to study.
No one likes to write about their struggles but it’s important to share them. Many young adults are curious and excited about the idea of leaving home for another country. But they never think about the challenges that come with it. This definition of hardship may vary from person to person so every experience is unique. I also believe in being honest. Lying about this past year and saying it was nothing but a bed of roses (or tulips) would give the wrong impression.
The summer of 2016 up until now has been a pretty emotional year for me and in many ways I’ve grown and shrunk at the same time. What makes me say that? It’s a difficult and emotional task to have to check your feelings and why you experience them.
When I’m with Sander or family/friends, I do fine. If I need to something alone, it takes me several days to build up the courage to do so. Half the time, I end up losing all that confidence and praying to go back home and curl up in a ball.
Examples? I got lost once when I believed a train station was close to home and had to walk several miles in heels. I had to meet Sander for an office party and arrived an hour late with blisters the size of eggs. Needless to say we did not attend the party.
Situations like this have been not common, but seem to happen after I’ve gotten over the traumas of the previous experience. I’m finding more comfort in hiding out all day (and working from home) or pining for the life I left behind. I miss the feeling of being in control of my circumstances. Here, I’m defenseless and often at the mercy of my feelings.
I hope someday I can overcome all my doubts and dark periods. Until then I need to brave through them and keep my spirits up. I’ll admit it gets harder with each passing disaster but I now have this life to lead. I steel myself and try again.
So here’s to the end of my first year in The Netherlands, and cheers to the next one! There are a thousand more things I want to do before the next anniversary rolls by. I’m both excited and terrified.