Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Every story needs plot development...

To add to Chad's summary of our move to Europe, I can help to give a little glimpse into what it was like moving to Holland, and what life has been like since we've arrived. After the two month wait due to delays with visas, work permits, marriage certificates, etc (in typical Dutch fashion), we were finally packed and ready to go. Our journey here was not easy, but it went as smoothly as can be expected. Think for a minute about trying to fit everything you'll need or want for two years into three bags that you have to carry through an airport, on and off trains, and across a foreign city to your new house at an unknown location. I wouldn't want to do it again, but with the help of family and friends on both sides of the globe we were able to make it happen.
A portion of our luggage that
we were happy to finally unpack.

We settled in quickly, and I think we both did a good job of adjusting to life in Rotterdam. As I write this, we are sitting on our balcony, drinking Belgium beer, and looking at the city; the people sitting at tables outside the cafes, the bikers riding by holding a bag of groceries while on their cell phone at the same time, the trams going down the street, the conversations all around us that we don't understand, the horns of impatient and aggressive Dutch drivers, and all of the other little things that we've become accustomed to so quickly in the last couple months here.

On the top of the Euromast

We are used to seeing all of these things in our daily lives now, and it's sometimes easy to forget where we are. We often have to remind ourselves that we're in Europe. I guess it's good that we have become so comfortable in our new city. It finally feels like home. But, thinking back to when we first arrived, it's easy to forget how many things were new and difficult. The simplest of tasks could take hours or even days to figure out. It can really test your patience. Imagine with me, again, going to the grocery store and not being able to read any of the labels on the food. To start, you can only buy what your recognize through the container or by a picture (milk, bread, salad, chicken, eggs, etc). Slowly, you start to sneak out your Dutch to English dictionary (with your back turned so you don't look like a total tourist), and decipher some of the unrecognizable or packaged food. After a couple trips, you get more and more comfortable with what you like and, more importantly, what to avoid (here's a tip, Filet American is a raw meat spread, don't find out the hard way like we did... ugghhhh).

With every challenge, there's always a positive flip side to keep in mind. The advantage to living in a new city and a new country, is that there are unlimited places to explore. I love walking around the neighborhoods and looking at the buildings and houses overflowing with flowers, and the beautiful canals lined with willow trees and filled with families of ducks and swans. The larger canals and harbors in the city also have some interesting ships and things to look at. Did you know that it is common for people to live on boats here?

The neighborhood in Capella aan Den Ijssel, where we stayed our first month.

At times it's been frustrating trying to deal with things in a foreign language, but we can easily remind ourselves of the advantages of living here. We've already taken advantage of our close location to several cool cities. We'll recap some of our early trips in the upcoming posts, and then get up to date so we can keep things current, because there's always more to come...


Some more pics of Rotterdam:

And of Dick's house that we stayed in for 3 weeks:

And of putting together our apartment:

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