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.
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.”)
Photo by Aaron Burden
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.
Amsterdam: I’ve always known it’s the most popular Dutch city by far.
But until I moved to the Netherlands, I didn’t realize just how often it manages to eclipse the rest of the country. I live 1.5 hours away in a completely different province — but people hear “I live in the Netherlands” and they assume my kitchen window overlooks the Herengracht. (Because, yes: in addition to residing in Amsterdam, I’m also a millionare. Did I not mention that before?)
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.