I can hardly believe it has been two years since we moved from Australia to The Netherlands. We flew from Brisbane to Amsterdam on the 8th July 2012. On the plane with me were my husband and our two daughters, who were then aged 3 and 5 years. I’ve flown across the world many times in my life, but this time was different. I’d just said a tearful goodbye to my family and was mentally just trying to prepare myself not just for a long plane journey with two little ones, but a new life in another country.
I recently re-discovered this video where they predicted how long the flight would take. It makes me smile – 5 and 11 minutes seems pretty long when you’re that age!
That particular flight was long and emotional for me. When we landed in Amsterdam, I cried. Many close friends and even strangers have asked on a consistent basis since that day why we moved from Australia to The Netherlands. There are so many ways to answer that question. At first, I couldn’t. Even when trying to form an answer to the question in my mind, the only thing that would come were tears. Now, two years later, the most simple answer is that in 2001, I met and later fell in love with a Dutch man, who I married in 2005. As you’ll read in other parts of this blog, our plan was to first live in The Netherlands, and then to live long term in Australia. However after he tried life there for a few years, it just didn’t work out the way he expected. He missed his family and country and the major decision factor was his career – the opportunities in his field were simply much better in The Netherlands.
For the first three weeks we were here, I wrote a daily blog post which helped me cope with the overwhelm of what we had to do to start our new lives here.
If you’d like to, you can read them here:
However I can’t. Yet. Why? Since I wrote them, I have worked daily on creating a new life here in The Netherlands and accepting that, at least not in the near future, I will no longer really have a “Life in in Australia“. That has been the hardest thing I have ever done. So even after two years, I have not been able to make myself go back and “relive” those first few weeks. I will one day, but not yet. I’ve also found it really hard to write personal blog posts over the last 2 years….even writing this one has been a stop/start process over a few weeks. It’s just such a huge thing to not only move to another country, but to deal with, process and come to terms with all the emotions that come with it. Sometimes writing helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
Now, our life here is very close to what I’d called “settled”. So if you were to ask, how long does it take to settle in a new country, though factors and people can vary dramatically, I’d say about 2 years. We’ve bought a house, I’ve made friends, found work, have a drivers licence and car, managed to get through all the initial challenges of connecting internet, sorting back accounts, finding places to buy my favourite products, have the girls settled into school and more. Overall, our life here is pretty much settled and stable. It’s taken a massive daily effort though.
I still desperately miss Australia and my family and friends there on a daily basis. But I am coming to accept that our life is here now. For about the first year, I just wanted to pack up and go back. However now I realise that even if that opportunity presented itself tomorrow, that upheaval would actually be more difficult than staying put. I guess that’s the tipping point – that after 2 years, if we were to go back now – our “old” life there is gone. I can’t say with any conviction that to build a new one there in Australia now would be any “better” than the one we have here. I guess I could guarantee that the weather would be better in Queensland though!
So all in all, perhaps not an incredibly positive post, but one of acceptance. I feel I made the right decision for our family to come here, though it may not have been the same decision I would have made if it was just me. I don’t know if I will ever be completely “happy” here in The Netherlands, but don’t know if I would have been in Australia either. I still hold that hope that one day, we may return….but not for some time.
Like many of you reading this, I am coming to accept that probably for the rest of my life, I will live between two worlds, either physically (another Christmas trip to Australia coming up!) or in my mind (I’ll never be 100% “Dutch”).
How long did it take you to “settle” after moving across the world if you’ve done that?