As a foreign resident of the Netherlands, I occupy a kind of sweet spot. I’m enough of an insider to know what’s what, but enough of an outsider to guess what other foreigners might find unusual or confusing when they visit — and, in case it’s not already clear, enough of a blogger to write it down and put it on the internet.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Overijssel before. Anyone?
Well, it’s a good thing I’m here.
Overijssel is a province in the east of the Netherlands, and it’s been my adopted home for the last two and half years. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share this part of the Netherlands with the rest of the world; and it’s high time I gave a proper introduction.
There are a lot of challenges one must tackle when moving abroad. My life in the Netherlands comes with its own specific set, like trying not to get run over by bicycles, or eating a stroopwafel without half of it ending up in my hair.
Also on the list? Baking.
Yes friends, it’s time again for the official, rarely-imitated-so-accordingly-rarely-duplicated annual check-up. Actually, it was time a few weeks ago, but I mean: what is time, really? Think about that for a minute.
Anyway, I moved to the Netherlands back in September of 2014, which means we’ve just celebrated our second anniversary. (Gefeliciteerd, Nederland!) Let’s take a look at how things went this past year.
This past “summer” in the Netherlands was pretty much what I’ve come to expect after two years.
It was cold. It was cloudy. It was wet. I grumbled and pouted and questioned nearly every day why I had chosen to live in such a godforsaken place, which I can only assume means I should get my Dutch passport in the mail any day now. (“Je bent één van ons. Veel sterkte.”)
When you’ve been living abroad for as long as I have, the idea of “going home” starts to become a bit fuzzy.
Though I use the word frequently — referring to either my current mailing address here in the Netherlands, or my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota — if someone were to straight up ask me what I consider home, I wouldn’t be able to answer. At least, not without an explanation.
It goes without saying that, for many countries, the biggest city is the star of the show, the one everyone’s heard of and sometimes, the only place they want to talk about.
But until I moved to the Netherlands, I didn’t realize the extent to which Amsterdam steals the spotlight from everywhere else around here. The amount of people who assume I live there is kind of staggering. (In case you’re new around here: I definitely don’t.)
On Sunday, the first of May, I will turn 28. This will be the second birthday I’ve spent here in the Netherlands, and the sixth that I’ve spent abroad. In what is perhaps an odd personality twist (given how much I like celebrating certain other holidays), I’m not really that into my birthday — aside from using it as an excuse for a night out and/or to eat a tower of bitterballen, anyway.
Though I am rapidly approaching my 28th birthday and can manage to change my sheets on an (almost) weekly basis, there are a few “not a girl, not yet a women” era traits I find myself clinging to. You know, holdovers from the university and backpacking years of my late teens and early twenties that I just can’t seem to shake.