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American in Europe

Anne's Amsterdam

I was approached to write this review by The Anne Frank House. At this time, I do not accept money for reviews or anything of that nature on this blog. However, they thought I would be interested in their new app after reading my blog, and I am, especially since I am about to study tourism, I decided to tryout the app for myself. 

Anne's Amsterdam is a new smartphone app made in conjunction with the Anne Frank House.  The App is available in English, Dutch, and German. I have it on my iPhone. The App allows you to explore Anne Frank's life in the city before her family was forced into hiding. The way the app works is simple, it uses your location and shows you different monuments in town that were important to Anne's life. For example, you can see where Anne went to school, where her and Margot used to go skating, and other significant details of a young girls life. 

Visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is an incredibly humbling experience. I was required to read the Diary of Anne Frank when I was in High School. Visiting her house combined with seeing her life outside in the city really gives you even more of a sense as to how terrible things really were during the German Occupation. 

Whether you are an expat, a Nederlander, or a tourist to The Netherlands, I recommend that you download this free app. It is very well done, and you never know what you will discover in an unsuspecting corner of Amsterdam. 

 

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11 Things I Love About My New Home After 9 Months

I landed nine months ago. Nine months! That is long enough to have carried and given birth to a baby. Not that I'm pregnant or even thinking about having a baby for years, I mean I'm about to be in school for the next 4 years, but to give you an idea of the time I've been here, I chose that analogy. This post could not have come at a better time, I feel like I haven't really been present or sociable the last few weeks. I always do this, I have a lot to look forward to in August and July, so I forget to live in the present. I'm sorry, my friends, I am going to try to do better. But in the meantime, here are the 11 things I love about The Netherlands after 9 months!

1. I love how international it actually is here. Since I have been here, I have met so many people with so many different backgrounds. Where I grew up in The States, there were people from different backgrounds, but most of them are 3rd and 4th generation. It is really awesome to meet so many people who come from all over world. It is important to note that this isn't the case all over the country, mostly just in the larger cities to the west. 

2. I can actually stomach the milk. For those of you who know me well, you know how disgusting I find milk. I actually inherited this from my mother, even though she would think it in front of me when I was little because she thought it was important that I get the calcium I needed. It was years before I would even eat ice cream. While there is no way I would ever reach for milk as a beverage, the milk here does taste differently and I can stand to have it in my cereal and will even chug it when I have heartburn. I know, crazy talk!

3. Even though the weather in the summer is unpredictable and I haven't yet put away my jacket, I'm the tannest I have ever been. Okay, so this is probably only a Kaitlin thing. I have extremely sensitive skin, it burns extremely fast. Because of this, I tend to be an inside girl. Seriously, Nicole Kidman is my beauty icon. But, because the sun is less extreme here than in Georgia, I am definitely outside more. I'm probably three shades darker than normal.

4. Even though I complained the whole time, I know feel more at ease in communicating in Nederlands after inburgering. My last inburgering class for a month and a half, was a week ago. Even though I still don't really like the system, I do recognize that I am much more willing to try and communicate in Nederlands than I was before my classes started. I am also continuing my learning alone, because I have to switch into the evening class.

5. I'm totally obsessed with the baby birds. If you read the blog regularly you know this already, but seriously, they are so cute. Oh and the bunnies! I see wild bunnies at least once a week.

6. I'm becoming more thrifty. Going out is more expensive here, clothes are more expensive, pretty much everything but booze is more expensive here. I actually think this is a good thing, as it is ridding me of the disposable lifestyle many Americans have. Now when something breaks, I do the Dutch thing and see if I can fix it. Except for those shoes from a few posts ago, those things are toast!

7. It rains all the time. I know again this is probably a personal thing, but in coming from a place that is perpetually in a drought, the fact that I am frequently caught in afternoon is actually a great thing. 

8. The view on marriage here. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same sex marriage. This makes me incredibly proud of my newly adopted country. In order to stay with The Verlo-, I actually don't ever have to get married. To be clear, we are engaged, but there is not the societal pressure or contingency of my visa to walk down the aisle. 

9. I love the countryside. I am a big city girl, but I do love that just a little bit outside the major cities the country is ripe with cows, goats, sheep, and horses. Seriously look out the window next time you are on an Intercity.

10. I can't believe I have not mentioned this one before, but I love the bikes. I'm still amazed by all that people can do while on their bikes. I doubt that I will ever reach the level of mastery required to talk on the phone, or transport a tv on my handlebars while cycling, but it is nice to have a goal.

11. I feel really safe here. I'm not naive enough to believe that there is no crime here, however, it is night and day between sketch parts of The Netherlands and sketch parts of The States.

Want a recap of the other things I love here? Check out:

What do you love about where you live?

 

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When Your Friends Leave, Reality in Expat Friendships.

Looking at the friends I have made so far in The Netherlands, most of them are fellow Americans. This was never my intention, but it makes sense, my only passable language at the moment is English, and we are all going through a lot of the same things. However, having your main friend group tied to another country besides the one you are planning to live in long term presents its a whole new set of problems. Being an expat for many is a very transient period, it is something they are trying on and eventually, most will probably move on. Either back to their home country or the will move elsewhere abroad. 

A few weeks ago, I had my first of what I am sure is many goodbyes to a friend who moved back to The States. To be fair, when I met her she told me that her and her husband were not looking to stay here long term. Neither of us expected her to leave as soon as she did. I am very thankful for the warning because I feel like I knew going in that the living in the same country part of our friendship had an expiration date. Not our friendship itself, just the both living in Utrecht part. I miss you Amanda!

Knowing that your friends might leave is just part of the living life abroad. Sure it is painful, but does that mean that you shouldn't make friends with anyone? My advice is to cherish the relationships you are able to make at any point in your life. If a friend does end up leaving, do your best to keep in touch, and look forward to the places you will now get to go visit. Speaking of keeping in touch, I owe some people some skype dates. Let's make them happen people!

Have you had friends leave? How did you deal with it?

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Baby Swans, A Cemetery, and Major Wardrobe Malfunctions

I've decided to quit This Week in Instagram. Judging by the numbers, you guys weren't really reading them anyway. Instead, I am still going to wrap up the week on Sundays, I think it is important to remain consistent. But now with catchier titles!

This week started off pretty normal, I went to class and my tutoring gigs. I complained about Inburgering and developed a study plan for the summer. Fun fact- I have one class left until September. But then, I caught this terrible stomach bug which had me at home on Thursday and Friday. Things just got weirder on Saturday. On my way to Amsterdam, my shoe broke on the train, like not able to walk right with it, broke. I was wearing fancy flip flops and one of the sides came out and the whole bottom came apart. Luckily, I managed to buy some super glue at the Bruna in the station and was able to fix my shoe while hanging out with some friends in the Vondel Park. I ended up heading home to Utrecht super late. While waiting at the bus stop for a ride to Amsterdam Centraal, you will never believe what happened, the other shoe broke! Not as bad as the first one, this time just the side came out. However, while walking down the stairs of the train the whole damn shoe broke! Every step I took the whole bottom would spin around in a circle on the thong.

Since it was 2am and the train was late, I had to wait 40 minutes for the next night bus. I got some Julia's and then tried to repair my destitute shoe. This time however, it did not work. I did manage to accidently glue my foot to the shoe, so at least I could walk. I then proceeded to try and get on the night bus with my OV Chipkaart. Apparently, at night you have to buy a ticket for the bus. SERIOUSLY! And you can't buy it on the bus, you have to go to the overnight counter. As soon as, I stepped off the bus, my foot came unglued, so I limped towards the desk. Then they wanted 5 EUROS! 5 Euros for what in less than four hours would cost me 1.22. Then, I would have to limp the ten minutes home with my busted-ass shoe. I decided at this point  it was time to take a taxi home. 

Yep, it was a fun night! 

But on to the better parts! 

The photo above is a path in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, it is really interesting as it runs along side the Beth Haim Jewish Cemetery. The Beth Haim is the oldest Jewish Cemetery in The Netherlands. It is trying to become a 2012 World Heritage Site. It has my vote! 

Take a gander at these baby swans! 

If you are wondering, I did in fact throw out the shoes! How was your week?

 

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Dutch for Dummies: Or How I am Going to Bump My Dutch Up a Level or Two This Summer

My Inburgering classes break for the Summer starting on July 7th, and I have recently learned that despite of being as honest as possible about my intentions to surrender my free time starting in September to be able to take both my degree program classes and inburgering classes, and was told that switching to evening classes would be as easy as saying that I want to switch, I was once again misinformed. Turns out, there is only one evening class offered, and whilst it does move at a much slower pace than my morning class, it is at a completely different level than I am at with my Nederlands. I was told however, that since I would have so many classes between now and then I might maybe be able to switch into it. Ummm, with the summer break I have exactly 7 classes left, two of which are computer labs, they don't count. So basically, because bureaucracies don't talk to each other, I am on my own.

Now, instead of doing my typical American thing of screaming about how UNFAIR it all is, (okay, I did do that for a few hours the day I found this out, let's be honest) I am devising a plan to learn on my own. I am posting it here because I figure the more people who know about it and are there to hold me accountable, the more likely I am to do it. Also, sorry for all the language posts, but it has kind of taken over my life. I promise this is the last one for a week!

So the plan! 

  • I'm going to keep up the class schedule I have right now, plus add Mondays. So from 9 to 12 every weekday will be hitting the books hard. Then another two hours later in the day for additional homework.
  • Complete immersion, besides my Sunday night tv schedule, if I do watch tv, it is going to be in Dutch. This is going to be hard to do, as Dutchies don't dub, and at night it is mostly English programs. So, maybe if The Verlo-and I do watch something I will make a major effort to read the Nederlands subtitles.
  • Find a partner to speak Nederlands to, other than my partner, because we go for about 5 minutes before switching back to our old habits and talking English. 

Jamie Oliver telling all about the dangers of non-free ranged eggs, subtitled in Nederlands.

In all seriousness though, I have probably looked through 50 different books to try and learn Dutch, and Dutch for Dummies is the best for beginners. 

Do you have any tips for going up a level? Also, please, please, please ask me how it is going this summer. I won't lie to my readers and it will help keep me on track. 

 

 

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The New (Not Really) Blog Title Plus This Week in Instagram Vol 8

So, you may have noticed a little redesign including a title change here at the blog. Instead of being A Georgia Peach in Utrecht, it is now A Georgia Peach Abroad. The change happened for two reasons, the first is that everything else was already branded A Georgia Peach Abroad, and the other is that while I love living in Utrecht, for the next four years I will be enrolled in an International Tourism Management program at a Hogeschool that requires me to go to Amsterdam at least 4 days a week. During this program, I will also be required to spend one quarter studying abroad outside of The Netherlands. Plus a bunch of travel, so the name change felt appropriate.

But, now on to the photos! I can't believe how many I took this week!

Up first we have the houseboats or woonboten that I pass when walking home from inburgering. I think that woonboten are really fascinating. Maybe it is because I have a huge phobia of boats. Which I know is ridiculous when you live in The Netherlands. Trust me, I am doing my best to slowly get over it.

I feel like I have been seeing a ton of flowering vines over doorways lately. I love these pink roses at this art studio. The studio also offers classes which I will take, one day...

I'm obsessed with birds, but especially baby ducks! So, here are 3 pictures!

And here is a picture of a heron, you just have to look really close!

During the longest day of the year, The Netherlands was experiencing a mega storm. I know surprise, surprise. But there were some pretty awesome clouds!

My two main guys love to cuddle. Yep, they are pretty cute!

Here are my good friends just before and while they went for a nighttime canoe ride in Utrecht, I didn't join them, because again this fear of boats. But I did play photographer. If only I remembered that my iPhone has a flash! What makes me uber sad is that Amanda is moving back to the States tomorrow! Her husband is joining her at the end of July after he wraps some stuff up here. I'm going to miss her so much! 

Last but not least, I passed this sign in a window on the Oudegracht. For me it has two meanings, sometimes it has hard to believe that I'm not just visiting here, this is now my real life. On the other hand, since I have been here for 3/4 of a year, it is frustrating to be thought of as a tourist, when I ask a question in Nederlands and I am answered in English.

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Happy 1st Birthday Little Blog!

I wrote my first post for this blog one year ago, I feel like time has really flown by! So much has happened since that very first post: I moved to The Netherlands, got my residence permit, applied and got rejected for a ton of jobs, decided to go back and get my bachelors' degree, started my inburgering lessons, and most importantly, I made some great friends. I couldn't be happier with my decision to leave everything I knew behind and live with the Verlo- here in Utrecht. 

I thought in honor of the blog's verjaardag (birthday, for those non-Nederlands speakers) I would revisit my very first post and see what has changed. So here is Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How Redux.

 

The WhoMy name is Kaitlin, I am in my mid twenties and newly engaged. I rock at jeopardy and I love beautiful things. I also have quite a snarky sense of humor, so you know if you are easily offended or you just don't like snark, this might not be the place for you. Well, my name is in fact, Kaitlin, I am still in my mid-twenties and I have been engaged for over a year, please don't ask when I am getting married, you will know when I know! I haven't played Jeopardy since October, but I do still like beautiful things. I am still full of snark. I am about to be an International Tourism Management student at Inholland University of Applied Sciences.  I am an avid reader and budding polyglot. Right now, I am learning Nederlands and my degree program requires me to take Spanish. 

The What: This blog chronicles my journey; both preparing to move to Europe and the adjustments I will make after I am there. It is a way to keep my friends and family up to date on my life. As well as, a chance to make new friends. Drop me a line I would love to hear from you. I have moved to Europe! So, mostly this blog chronicles my adventures making my way in this crazy country. Blogging has been a great way to both keep up with people and make new friends. Seriously though, nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers

The Where: Right now, I am based out of Atlanta, this fall I will be moving to Utrecht, Netherlands. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands. It has a beautiful city center, and most importantly, it is where my love is. WOOHOO! I made it to Utrecht! More specifically, I live in Leidsche Rijn, an upandcoming suburb. I do in fact live here with my love, and our cute kitty Atticus. 

The When: A month that ends in a -ber, that is all you are getting for now. I moved on October 5th. 

The Why: People have been asking why it is that I am moving there and he is not moving to the States. That's simple here are the reasons: Emigration to the States is tough for people in love. The Euro is stronger than the dollar. Loek can't drive a car and I don't particularly like it. I was an Art History Major in College so where is better than Europe. I am obsessed with travel; as is Loek and most of where we want to explore is in Eurasia. So why is it called a Georgia Peach Abroad with the title being called Georgia Peach in Utrecht? Well, I was raised in Georgia and though I may not always like to admit it, I am a Southern Lady. I went a little crazy with this explanation. I am really bad about re-reading my posts to make sure they make sense. These reasons are valid for why I moved. So, instead I'll talk about why I blog. I blog because I love interacting with people and having a place to share my stories and hear the stories of others. I also blog because I have questions about my new life all the time, sometimes there doesn't seem to be an answer on the internet, so I blog my experiences and answers so that transitioning abroad/ living in The Netherlands might be easier for those who come after me.

The How: Loek built this blog for me so that is how you are getting content. As far as the whole how am I getting to move to Europe thing? You will just have to wait and read! I like to think that I have done a decent job of describing the how of moving abroad. Now, the blog is all about how I am living my life here.

Also, here is a look back at the 10 most read posts of this year.

Last, but not least, I wish to share my gratitude and appreciation for you dear readers! Thank you so much for all your encouragement and interactions! I am at a loss as to how to describe just how much I love you all! 

 

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7 Habits Adult Language Learners Can Learn from Bilingual Children

Here in The Netherlands, I pick up the occasional tutoring gig for young children who are bilingual, and who are too young to learn English in school. These are normally the children of Nederlanders who moved to English speaking countries and have since moved back here. Since I have started becoming serious about learning Nederlands, I can´t help but compare the relative ease of being bilingual in my charges, to the struggles I face everyday as an adult. I have pinpointed 7 habits that I see in my young bilingual students that I think will help me, and other adult language learners in their strife to become bilingual.

  1. Brush off mistakes/embarrassment: I am not quite sure when in our lives it becomes embarrassing to make a mistake, but it is really a terrible habit we develop. With my kids, if they make a mistake with their grammar or pronunciation, it doesn't phase them at all, they just keep going. In reverse, when my inburgering teacher calls upon people to read the text out loud, I don't think I could make myself smaller in my seat. The don't call on me because there is this word I am unsure of how to pronounce mentality is a real antagonist to my ability to learn. What I and other adults need to realize is that no one is perfect 100% of the time, if we were there would be no reason to be in a class because we would already be fluent. Be proud of your mistakes, they mean you are actually learning. 
  2. Set apart time to learn: While I think that you should be open to learning your new language whenever it presents itself, having a set time that you know is dedicated to learning is really helpful. For example, my students know that when they see me, we will be speaking in English. We try to make it at the same time each week, that way the kids are already in the mindset that on Thursdays at noon, they can not play with their friends, they have their lessons. Conversely, I know when I have my inburgering lessons each week, but when I get to my homework is anyone's guess. I think that next week, I will have set study times for my homework, that way all of it will actually get done.
  3. Have a  designated place to learn: Each time I see my kids, we go to the same spot in their house to have our lessons, this is the same place they do their homework. Most of the time it is a dining room table. When I was in high school, my space was on the floor of my best friend Christy's bedroom. In college it was a local coffee shop. I do not do well at home, too many distractions. Here in Utrecht, I think I will try the beautiful Utrecht Centraal Library, since I have a love affair with the building anyway. My point is, find a place free of distractions to make it easier to learn. 
  4. Just do it: Children have teachers and parents to hold them accountable for their learning. As adults, we are accountable to ourselves, but sometimes having a partner in our learning can help.If that is not possible, then you are going to have to just grin and do it. No excuses, you have already set apart this time to learn. But at the same time...
  5. Know when you have hit a wall: With my students it is easy to tell when they have hit a wall. It is when they suddenly lose all interest in what we are doing. If you have read the same page four times and still are not comprehending it, it is time to try a new tactic.
  6. Try something else: When we are learning our first language, we watch movies, we sing songs, we read stories. Why do we not utilize the tools when trying to learn our second? When you have hit a wall with your grammar books, try doing something fun with the language. Watch a movie in the language, listen to local artists, it is good to remind yourself why you wanted to learn it.
  7. Don't get discouraged: This goes along with the mistakes thing, think about how long it took you to become really proficient in your language. Now compare that to how long you have been trying to learn your second. See, you are doing better than you thought. Keep it up!

Do you have any language learning tips?

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This Week In Instagram Vol.7

This is my first week of dealing with school/work/life balance, since moving to The Netherlands. It was a challenge as my Nederlands classes are very fast paced and intensive. They require a lot of self study. Which is something I will need to keep in mind, especially in September when I add going to my Tourism Program fulltime as well.  It is really interesting because I only have 3 more weeks of class before we break for a month and a half. When I start my lessons back, I will be in a new class, because I have to switch to nighttime lessons. I did however, take some cool pictures. 

I am lucky enough to get to go to the beautiful village of Oudekerk aan de Amstel (Old church on the Amstel) twice a week. It is located on the Amstel River, in case you couldn't guess, just south of Amsterdam. This is one of the two churches in the town, but I believe this one is the Oudekerk. 

I pass a lot of swans out in the Dutch Countryside. I still think they are majestic, because they are not something you see in the wild where I am from. Hence, I snap lots of photos.

On my walk home from my inburgering classes, I sometimes get to pass by this building. It is actually the Dutch National Mint of Utrecht and has been around since 1567! 

Did I mention that weather this week has for the most part been dark and foreboding? This was especially true on Wednesday, when our football team lost to Germany. This was a bar in Bilthoven that was in the spirit before the game. Was the weather foreshadowing the results of the game?

In addition to be tourist season here, it is also baby bird season! Here are some swanlings that I have been watching grow for the last few weeks.

Speaking of cute babies, here is another unusual place Atti found to sleep.

I didn't blog a lot this week. This week I promise to do better! What did your week look like?

 

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Mijn Eerst Nederlands Les

This week has severely kicked my butt! This is the first week since I moved to The Netherlands that I have had something that I've had to do everyday of the week. On Tuesday, I finally began my Nederlands courses. You will remember that I had a minor freak out about these the week before. (Okay, let's be honest, huge freak out). I am happy to say that the first week was not as bad as it could have been. Yes, I am slightly far behind the class. But, not embarrassingly so. I must say that three classes a week, plus one mandatory computer lab day, all for 3 hours and 15 minutes, plus an additional two hours of homework before each class is a bit much. 

The way my class is organized, there is a lot of working together with a partner. This is okay, I have been partnered up with a very sweet guy from Turkey most of the week, but I can't help but feel that maybe learning our pronunciations of the words from other students is helping no one when communicating with actual Nederlanders. In fact, when I come home and tell The Verlo- what I have learned each day, he says he hasn't a clue what I am even trying to say. Another thing that I don't particularly like is the once a week computer labs. We have to sign in so it counts towards our 80% attendance.( Or else you have to pay 260 euros) However, there is nothing that we do that we in there that we don't have access to at home, and my computer is a whole lot faster! But, oh well. This also means that before we break for a month and a half in July, I will have significant less classes then I originally thought.

There is still no word about what will happen in September when I need to switch to evening classes in order to attend my Hogeschool. I've decided that I worry too much about things I can not control, things will work out one way or another. 

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