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.
“This friend of mine, we have really different views on a lot of things — but we just don’t talk about politics!” Sound familiar?
Or what about this one? “This is not the place to discuss politics. This is a travel blog/make-up channel/fashion account. I don’t follow you/read your posts to hear about your ~causes~!”
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.
I am aware there are many, many things that people Do Not Understand about my home country, the United States. Some of them I can explain (tax rates are different everywhere! that’s why we add the tax at point of sale and don’t include it in listed prices!); some of them I can’t (but that’s a post for another time).
As a foreigner in the Netherlands, I’m asked quite frequently what I think of this country — often by people who don’t seem to like it all that much themselves.
In fact, the question I probably get more than any other is, “Why would you want to live here?” (Usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and that generally unimpressed tone the Dutch have when they speak in English.)