I’ve just realised that it’s two months today since we left our “old” life in Australia and began our “new” one in The Netherlands. It feels more like a year.
You can follow the earlier part of our journey on a day by day basis under Life in The Netherlands. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment, it’s been really lovely to have family, old friends and new friends following our journey. Apologies posts stopped rather abruptly once we moved into our new place and had to wait a month for the internet to be connected! But I’m pleased to say it is possible for me to survive (a short period of time!) without the internet and I’m happy to now be back online and blogging again.
Both my husband and I had just commented earlier today that we’re starting to feel a little “normal” again. Is quite a nice feeling – kind of like being lighter and able to think more clearly. I think it’s because the pieces of our life are now falling into place. Well…falling into place is perhaps the wrong expression, as that suggests things happening without too much effort. Settling into life in a new country takes a LOT of time, effort and money. Not to mention patience and courage. The last two months have been perhaps the hardest in my life – leaving family, friends, a great job, a growing business, a nice car, and much more behind….and starting almost from scratch.
Look around you, regardless of whether you have recently moved countries or have been in one place all your life. Every piece of your current life – from your house, car, job, friends, school for your children, cupboards, internet connection, pots, pans…EVERYTHING really takes time, effort and money to establish.
Apart from perhaps something you’ve bought recently, or new people you may have just met, most things are comfortable and familiar. In much of your day to day life you may even operate on auto pilot. You know which brands and products to choose for your favourite meals at the grocery store, you are in a routine with your family and/or job, you know how to get around, you feel your children are safe and happy. Now imagine that you are going to walk out of your life with pretty much just a suitcase and go to the other side of the world. Have you done this? Could you do this?
I’ve actually done this several times now. And I’m fortunate in many ways. The Netherlands isn’t a totally new country for me. I lived here from 2003-2007 and still have some friends here, a rapidly returning command of the Dutch language and my husband’s family is very supportive. Many of the things that are most special to me are still with me daily – and I appreciate them all the more. My husband (who was the one who drove this move – he was homesick for The Netherlands and wanted to pursue job opportunities), my children (aged 5 & 3 who are amazingly adaptable) and though I am almost embarrassed to put it in the same sentence with precious family relationships of this calibre….my iphone, iPad, MacBookPro and digital SLR as well!
However there is also a constant sense of loss. My family and many of my closest friends are far, far away and my old life simply doesn’t exist anymore. Our house in Australia has sold, my old role at work has been taken on by others, aspects of my business are in limbo. Mostly, I’ve just been trying to get through each day and not look too far ahead.
When I look back though, we’ve achieved an incredible amount in the last 2 months. I think it’s important for me to perhaps stop and reflect on this:
- We searched for, found and rented a lovely place I almost feel like I can call “home”
- My husband was successful in finding and starting a job he feels is a good career move and enjoys (and has already been on a work trip to the UK)
- We have a new (second hand) car
- Our 5 year old has started school, has just finished week 3 and is loving it
- Our 3 year old began “peuterspeelzaal” 3 mornings a week and also enjoying it
- Have managed to figure out how to book our 5 year old into TSO (staying over at school for lunch!).
- I’ve reconnected with old friends here and made some new ones
- We’ve organised our health care and insurances and other various paperwork!
- Have applied for, waited ages for, complained about this (in Dutch!) and finally been connected at home with the internet, tv & telephone
- My new moederfiets has done LOTS of kilometres already and despite a few falls (and even spraining my ankle and spending my birthday not able to walk!), I’m taking the kids to and from school daily on my bike.
- Though I’m not likely to be the best teacher, I’ve been out giving my girls daily bike riding lessons and they are getting lots better (though still have training wheels). I’ve also taught them to think twice before stepping out in front of other people’s bikes, in front of trams and traffic etc!
- I’ve introduced myself to neighbours and have some potential play dates
- Have found some awesome bargains via Marktplaats and also been a regular at IKEA and our house is almost fully furnishes
- Negotiated the process for importing our belongings and have our shipment from Australia unpacked (well it’s all in piles everywhere but it’s unpacked!)
- We’ve experienced and thoroughly enjoyed some lovely local events such as Biesland Dagen and Taptoe Delft
- I’ve started participating in some wonderful and very supportive expat groups such as Delft MaMa and Connecting Women
- We’ve celebrated mine, my daughters and other birthdays and events with friends and family and have spent quality time together.
- Have been searching for possible jobs that can fit around my family commitments and am looking into restarting my business here.
- I learnt how to lay vinyl flooring and did most of our new house myself!