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May 2013

June's Expat Blogger Brunch is Just Around the Corner

Expat Blogger Brunch June

Hello lovelies! 

Can you believe it will be June tomorrow, craziness right? I wanted to let you guys know that the June Edition of the Expat Blogger Brunch will be held in Leiden on June 16th. Lily and I look forward to these brunches so much each month and can not wait to see you guys there! If you want to attend  please RSVP by June 14th to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com. We try to keep the number around 15. 

Can't wait to connect/reconnect with you guys!

Just a reminder, the expat brunches are open to anyone with a blog! And our goals are to:

  • Generate a creative, social form
  • Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
  • Cultivate Social Media contacts into real life connections
  • Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
  • Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events

Hope to see you there or at the one in July! 

Until next time,

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I'm in Pain, So I Finally Went to the Doctor Abroad

I have never liked doctors. I hated everything about going to the doctor in the States and would avoid it until it was absolutely necessary. I think that perhaps my resentment stems from the time I had an infected ovary at the age of 14 and the doctor came in and announced to my mom and I that I was pregnant. Umm, don't think so and don't you have to ask the parent to leave the room even if that were true. I think my mom called him an idiot. 

I took this resentment with me to the Netherlands, combined with a fear of not being able to communicate what was wrong with me, and if there was something wrong with me this news being issued to me with Dutch bluntness. Plus, I wasn't sure about costs and such although insurance is a legal requirement here in the Netherlands. Yep, occasionally I am ridiculously stubborn. 

I did manage to find a doctor though and register online just in case I ever needed one in an emergency. Today, it was necessary to go to the doctor for the first time. Right before I moved to the Netherlands, I had massive pain in my right shoulder. I went to a doc in the box because my insurance had expired when I left my job. I was told it was nothing and sent home with some heavy duty Ibuprofen. It took care of the pain for awhile, but in this last year the pain has come back with a vengeance. 

The pain normally horrible for a few days each month and normal things like getting undressed are not an option without assistance. But then the pain would be a lot less and I didn't want to go to the doctor and be like, oh yeah I had pain last week, but now it is okay. However, the pain has been pretty much constant this whole month and I haven't been able to sleep for the past two days, due to the pain. So finally I took the plunge and called yesterday to make an appointment for today. Of course today was not a terrible day pain wise, but I am still in pain. My doctor is a fifteen minute walk from my house, which is awesome. 

I got to the appointment 30 minutes early because I was expecting to have to fill out all sorts of forms. Not at all the case, I was just told to go wait in the waiting room, they didn't even want to see my insurance card or anything. I was then called back by my doctor therefore there was no more awkward waiting in the room alone.(My least favorite part about going to the doctor in the States). After a few tests on my shoulder and a talk about what was wrong, It was decided that I should take some major pain meds for the next week, 3 times a day! And a stomach med because the pain meds are known to mess with stomachs. This is amazing as I have a weak stomach. The doctor sent the prescription online to the pharmacy which was in the same complex. 

I was then asked to make an appointment next week as they are hoping the inflammation will go down a bit and I will see my doctor and a physical therapist to help figure out what the problem is since this has been off and on for two years now. She ruled out a lot and I will see a specialist. 

I was so surprised that in the two minutes I had to walk over to the pharmacy, my prescription was ready, but they come in boxes not bottles.So that is also more efficient. Overall, it was incredibly cheap and time efficient in compared to going to the doctor in the States. I don't know if this is just my doctor or if my experience is typical of the Dutch system, but so far I think it is sooooooo much better than the American system. 

Please forgive me if this post is a little ramblely, the meds are making me a bit loopy. What do you think is good/bad about the healthcare system in your country?

Until next time,

 

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Still Boat-o-phobic!

I have told you guys a ton about my fear of boats. I don't know if I have ever told you why. It started when my mom and her friend took me on a harmless canoe ride in the Wakulla River when I was 7. For those of you who don't know, this swampy river is filled with gators and water moccasins and all other forms of Florida nasties. The canoe got flipped over because they were laughing so hard. They then couldn't flip back over the boat and there were GATORS! This was traumatizing.

If that were not enough, the first time  a boy showed me his penis was when I was 6 or so and we were on a boat with a guy my mom was friends with and his son the same age as me. I don't think he was trying to be a sicko or anything just more of I have one of these do you? But still, not the best thing that has ever happened to someone on a boat. I later learned that I was named after my mom's childhood friend who was killed in a tragic boating accident, sometimes as irrational as I know this is, I think that this fact haunts me. 

When I was a teenager, I decided to get over this fear, because my best friends stepdad had a boat and I didn't want to be left behind. I was fine for a few summers, but then her grandmother tripped on the dock and busted her knee wide open, and I went vertical after hitting a rogue wave. And then there was that time I sunk a jetski and Christy and I were stuck floating in the middle of the lake for an hour. Me and boats not meant to be friends.

I thought that I should get over this fear now that I live in the land of canals. And that is how after the blogger brunch, I ended up on Lily's dutchman's boat. Which was really sweet of them. To be fair, I totally warned them before we even got on that I have a fear of boats that I am trying to get over. The first obstacle was that you have to climb down from the canal wall into the boat, for someone with ubershort legs, this is hard! 

The boat stalled a few times, which made me a bit nervous. Then these ladies in a pedalboat decided to stop in the middle of a bridge. There was lots of yelling at them to get out of the way, but one pedalled forwards and the other backwards, so we had to slow the boat down significantly, we hit them but not hard, and to be clear, it was their fault. Because we had to slow the boat down so fast, the engine stalled. Lily's dutchman managed to pull off to the side and Lily had to climb under a sailboat to hold the boat from hitting the canal wall. I really didn't see anyway for me to help and where I was, was completely in the way and remember-fear of boats here just got in a very small boating accident, so I thought the best thing to do was to get myself out of the way and to try and calm myself down, because I was shaking.

So, I got out of the way and went into the cabin. The ladies pedaled back over, presumably to offer some assistance, but they just ended up hitting our boat again! Needless to say, fear of boats not over and apparently I am never invited back on the boat again. You know what, I am totally fine with this, I'm just glad I didn't breakdown into hysterics. Does this make me a wimp? Yes, but I don't really care. My name is Kaitlin Hawthorne and I will always be super uncomfortable on boats. Now here are some pictures. 

 

So tell me, what are you most afraid of? Or have you ever conquered your fears?

Until next time,

 

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Links I Love Vol.6

Links I Love

Yesterday I promised that I would introduce you to the lovely ladies of our May's expat brunch.Some of these ladies you have met before, some are going to be new. Go follow them, I love them all. I especially love that unlike some other groups I have been apart of, this group has yet to turn into a negative complaining place. I want it to stay this way forever. 

First up is my co-host, Lily of Lily Wanderlust. I feel like all my crazy stories here in the Netherlands have her in a co-starring role. We are trouble when we get together. But the best kind of trouble. Go forth and read about my bestie. 

Amanda of Poppies and Ice Cream is just one of the sweetest girls on the planet. She is also incredibly smart, as someone who has never been particularly good at science, I am in awe over her scientific knowledge. And she is an awesome baker, which is the key to my heart. 

Gaby of Holland Daze is my sunny ray of California sunshine. She is just so warm and caring. She is one of the first expats I met here and I am so glad that we are still friends! Somehow I never get to talk to her as much as I want. We need to fix this Gaby!

Emily of Dutch Tales is a Southern girl like me. I am uber impressed by how much she has been able to do in just her few short months of being here. She's bought a car and learned how to drive a stick shift. And, she landed a job that can actually turn into a career, virtually unheard of for an expat here because she married a Dutch guy! I'm also excited because we have discovered she lives even closer to me than we thought! 

And now for the new introductions:

Shoshannah of Awesome Amsterdam is one of those people who can make friends anywhere she goes. Her blog highlights some of the awesome places and things to do in Amsterdam. There are so many cool things to discover on her blog.

Mary of Pick the Wild Card is Scottish and a teaching assistant. Sadly, she is leaving the Netherlands for Germany, but with a stopover back in Scotland for a bit. She is a very sweet girl and you should take the time to read about her adventures. 

Christa of the daily pin is an awesome lady and mother who lives in Eindhoven. I love that we have some mom's in the group to answer all of our burning questions about raising a family abroad if/when the rest of us reach that phase in our lives. You can also find her here.

Candi of Candiland is a recent transplant to the North near Groningen, which lamely I still haven't been to. Candi is awesome and so fun and crafty. Maybe one day I can even get her to teach me how to sew, which I have been wanting to learn for years. Go check out her fun blog.

There you are, some of my favorite ladies who call the same rich country that is the size of Maryland that I do. Go check them out! 

Who are your favorite expat bloggers?

Until next time!

 

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Thanks Ladies for an Awesome May Expat Brunch

Expat bloggers

Our second expat brunch took place last Sunday. I look forward to these brunches all month long. For me, it is a much needed girl's day in a hectic, hectic schedule. What I love the most is the fact that I have a standing date to reconnect with old friends and to meet some great new ladies. I am amazed that so far everyone has meshed so seamlessly together. It is truly a highlight in my life each month.

This time, we all met in Amsterdam and had brunch at the cute Le Pain Quotidien. I had an amazing Goat Cheese Tartine and they serve their coffee in bowls. Personally, I think every place should do so. After brunch, we went out for a few beers before the ladies started heading home. Tomorrow's Links I Love will introduce you to the ladies who attended, you are going to love them!

After everyone left, Lily and I had an adventure on her Dutchman's boat, but that is such a long story it deserves its own post. Finally, we met back up with one of the girl's from brunch for the IAMEXPAT party and dinner at Va pianos. Va pianos is by far my favorite pizza place in the Netherlands, too bad they don't have them in Utrecht!

June's blogger brunch is going to be at a Mexican restaurant in Leiden, suggested by our own resident Mexican expat Amanda! We would love to see you there! If you want to get on the mailing list for our expat blogger brunches, send an email to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

Warm Goat Cheese Tartine

My brunch

Friends be warned, I take weird photos

My pizza!

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Links I Love Vol. 5 Why You Should Visit Holland.

Links I Love

In the year and a half that I have lived in the Netherlands, the Verlo and I have had two guests. My mom and my godmother. This makes me really sad, because I miss my friends and family and I love it here so much, I want to show everyone my life. I understand though, if I would have followed a traditional path in life, I would have graduated with the rest of my friends at the height of the recession. We are all trying to figure out how to bounce back from entering the job market at a terrible time. I also come from the South, where compared to other places in the Western World, people get married and have babies at a much younger age. I'm so proud of the lives my friends are carving out for themselves. And, I know that how eventually I will have money to make it back to visit them more often (I'm going back for the first time in August) they too will eventually save and make it over here as well. 

A little incentive never hurts though right? Here is this great video on why Holland is awesome. I hope that this video will not only inspire those of you who are my friends to come visit, but also those of you I don't actually know, who want to learn more about the Netherlands.

 

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Summer Bucket List

It's funny how much a place can change you. When I lived in Georgia, I used to avoid going out in the Summer. I have really, really, really sensitive skin and the weather was just too harsh. Now, that I live in the land of cold winters and perpetual rain, I covet my summery days. 

In just a few short, and incredibly busy weeks, I'll be finished with my first year of school. While I do plan on relaxing a whole bunch during the few short weeks, I wouldn't be me if I didn't make some sort of a plan to get things done during a time when I have a bit more free time. Here's what I want to accomplish this summer.

  • Figure out what direction this blog of mine should go in. How do I want to handle possible advertisers, people asking to guest post, and most importantly, what do I want to do in this space?
  • Finally start that novel I have been planning in my head for the last few months. 
  • Get back to freelance writing part time. Can you tell what direction I want to go in here? I also need to figure out where I feel best writing. I want to put up a desk in the bedroom facing out of the windows. 
  • Rip the wallpaper off the walls and paint. I want to somehow make this apartment feel like home. I feel so at home and at peace with my expat life, but this apartment is so not gezellig. 
  • Go for runs along the canals, I want to pack healthy lunches and go on picnics, I want to read books in the park. I want to take full advantage of the few sunny day's we have here in the Netherlands, even though I am sunny days cursed, I'm almost always scheduled to work on the prettiest days. 
  • Use my discount cards. I have both a museumkaart and a pathe unlimited cards. I haven't used these to their full potential since I have work and school and almost no days off. When it rains this summer, these will be taken full advantage of. Museums, movies, and writing, perfect day. Now if only my free student transport didn't stop working in the summer.
  • Explore areas of the Netherlands other than the Randstad. I haven't been way up North, I haven't been down South, and I haven't been to the East. I've only been to the beach once. If you live in one of these areas and want to be my guide, I would love this.
  • Reconnect with my roots. I'm going to Georgia in August, I get to see all my friends and family that I have missed. Most people from back home haven't met the Verlo, so I am excited for more people to meet the man I picked up and moved countries for.
  • Learn to love my bike, or get a new one. Confession, I haven't drove a bike since last August. I have free public transport and it is faster to ride the bus to the train station. And, I hate riding my bike. I know, I know I need to fix this.
  • Try out new recipes and eat cleaner. Summer is the perfect time to try out new recipes with all the fresh fruits and veg available. 
  • Take more pictures. I am the world's worst blogger sometimes, I never take pictures of myself, my friends, or where I am. I just never think about it. I'm trying to make more of an effort. Especially since I just umbred my hair and I love it. 
  • Spend time with my godchildren! My godson Logan is going to have a baby sister, who is due when I am in Georgia. I view being a godmother as one of the greatest honors in the entire world, and I am so thrilled to be asked again! 

What are you looking forward to this summer?

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Friday Links I Love Vol. 4

I love movies, in fact perhaps I should have gone to film school. Perhaps it is the escapism, but I think I just love to see the beauty in the films. In the Netherlands, we either get movies in theaters 3 days before they come out in the States, or months and months after. Which is why I got to see Hunger Games before all my friends back home, and why I just saw Silver Linings Playbook. Both of these star Jennifer Lawrence, and the later of which may qualify as one of my new favorite movies of all time. 
One of my favorite purchases I have made since living in the Netherlands is a Pathe Unlimited Cards. I have found that the Pathe's especially the one at Bijlmer Arena, which is on my way home from school is the nearest to an American theater. For less than 20 euros a month, I can go see unlimited movies. Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with links I love?
My love of movies also expands to posts about movies. Remember how I said, it was the beauty I loved? There are two blog series that take another look at movies. Design Sponge's Living in series and Hooked on Houses Movie and TV Houses. I love both of these series and get incredibly excited when they come up in my feed.
My favorites from the Living In series are:

My favorites from Hooked on Houses series are:

What is your favorite film set? 

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Part 3 of School Daze in Holland: Grades

Getting straight A's is not a thing here in the Netherlands. School's here give you grades on a 10 point scale. Anything above a 5.5 is passing, anything above a 7 is considered good. I was told to never expect a 9. This took some adjustment as my whole life until I moved, I was on a number system, and then A's were 4 points, B's were 3 and so forth. 

I remember when I received my first grade of the year. It was a respectable 7.5 on a group project. The problem was, I didn't know how to feel. My group of very hard workers were all congratulating each other on a job well done, I wasn't  sure how much I should celebrate. I wanted to make it fit on my letter grade scale. Then my brain went to a 75, which would be a C where I am from. Who celebrates a C? 

That was when I was explained the you should be proud of a 7 and think of it more like a B. Because no one every gets 9's. Well, I am happy to say that thus far, I have received four 9's and even a completely unheard of 9.5. 

It is all about adjusting your expectations. 7.5 is my happiness limit, if I get below, I am pretty upset. It is important to note that the only grades received are those at the end of the period. Each period has one project, perhaps a portfolio or two and a few final exams. 

My grades are something I am pretty proud of this year, however I have failed an exam. I could go on with excuses about what all was going on in my life, (I was pretty depressed about all the deaths of people I cared about) but really I didn't study as much as I know that I could have. Now, if I was pursuing a degree in the States, this would mean that I would have to take the class over. In the Netherlands, it just means that I have to retake the exam. You can retake the test up to 5 times. You have to reach a certain number of points to make it out of each year, but if you fail one class it is not going to impact you that much, If you don't have enough points to pass the first year, you can not continue with that major. 

How does this compare to when and where you were in Uni?

Don't forget to check out:

Part One of School Daze in Holland: MBO, HBO or WO, Higher Education Levels or TV Channels?

Part Two of School Daze in Holland Series: You Better Like Your Classmates, You See Them Everyday.

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Friday Links I Love Vol 3

I have officially turned into my mother. I don't know if it is homesickness or nostalgia, but lately I have been listening to a lot of bluegrass, folk and old school country. For years, I would bellyache on car trips when it was mom's turn to pick the music, my worst nightmares would be hearing Bonnie Raitt, Emmy Lou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt with my mom singing with her low, low singing voice. Yes, I was a pain in the ass, ungrateful teenager. Now I quite like my mom's singing. 

Lately, however I have found that my taste in music has ventured towards good ol' Americana. Mixed in with my Rilo Kiley, Decemberists, and Pixies playlists, Woody Guthrie, Dolly Parton, Old Crow Medicine Band, even Bonnie Ratt and Emmy Lou have found a place. My mother would be so proud. 

There are not a lot of links in this post, I basically just wanted to tell you that I joined the new Myspace, and I actually really like it there! Sure, it needs time to grow, but it is a really great space to discover new music. Won't you join me there? I'm hoping they can get more artists to join, because their influences section is spot on. 

What have you been listening to lately?

Oh and in case you are wondering, I only got to make one of the meals I was planning for this week. The Korean Beef, it was super yummy and incredibly easy to make. I highly recommend it, even though I only had two bites because I was a klutz and dumped all mine on the floor and broke a plate. 

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