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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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