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March Photo Challenge: Day 14: Clouds

Dutch Light

I briefly touched on how much I love the Dutch sky in my post 10 Things I Still Love About My New Home After 3 Months. There is something so breathtaking about the way the sunshine passes through the clouds here, that it paints the landscape in a beautiful golden sheen. Dutch light has long been a phenomenon in the art world. If you want to see what I am referring you have only to look at the work one of the most famous Dutch artists, Johannes Vermeer.  Pictures hardly do it justice, but here are some of the best ones I have.

Museumplein Amsterdam

Museumplein, Amsterdam

Street view Delft

Leiden

Street view Leiden

 

 

A few have asked where this Photo Challenge comes from. It comes from fat mum slim. You can still sign up for the rest of the month.

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 13: Signs

In the United States, it is not uncommon to see "NO PARKING" or "TOW ZONE" signs. Here in The Netherlands, it is not uncommon to see "No bike parking" signs. The sign above translates to bicycles are removed. As you can see, this sign like almost all others is completely ignored. I think there is something uniquely Dutch about this. 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 12: Fork

Utrecht

Utrecht has a diverse history. The Romans even had a settlement here! When you are walking through the Center, you can not help but feel taken back in time. Like most cities who had their heyday in the Middle Ages, the city is a maze of side streets and alleyways. There is always more than one way to get to where you want to go. Part of what I love about the city is discovering all the forks in the road.

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 11: Someone I Talked to Today

All friendships take work. But, when you move across the planet and leave behind a great group of friends, you make sure you make it work. You need a good support system behind you. While I was not naive enough to think that I would continue to be as close to everyone I left behind, I do have a group of people that I work hard to talk to be it Skype, g chat, Facebook chat, whathaveyou, that I make sure and talk to on a regular basis.  

One such friend is Katie. I met Katie through my old job. The one great thing about that job was that it allowed me to meet some really awesome and talented people. Katie is a very opinionated person with a love for animals. She even has a blog called Life with Arie, in which she blogs about different pet related things and her adorable white German Shepard. 

The last time I saw Katie, she pretty much threatened my life if I didn't keep in touch. I'm glad to say my life is not in danger. If you are thinking about becoming an expat, I suggest you hang on to your support system back home. They are a bright light on the lonely days you are going to have! 

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 10: Loud

Ostrich

Let me tell you about one of the weirdest days I have had here in The Netherlands. It was back in January when my mom was visiting my new home for the first time. She had been here a few days when a Monday rolled around. For those of you in the know, Mondays can be a little boring around here. Shops have odd opening hours and museums all take this as their day off. Stuck finding something to do, my mom, Loek, and I set off for Utrecht's Center to open up my Dutch bank account. ( This really has nothing to do with the weirdness of the day, I just want you to understand why the following happened at the time of day that it did.) After our trip to the bank, we decided to check out a local area castle. So, we loaded the bus we would have to take to get back to my house and road it all the way to the end of the line in Vleuten. From there, we loaded another bus to Haarzuilens, so that we could go and visit Kasteel de Haar. 

When we got off the bus, I pointed out that I believed the Kasteel was to our left, however, we spotted signs with a castle on them to our right so we decided to follow them. It was about 3:06 at this time. The last guided tour for the kasteel is at 4pm and to go inside you have to be on the tour. So, we started walking through Haarzuilens, which is really a lovely little town, all the windows of the buildings have red and white shutters to match Kasteel de Haar. So, we are walking and the whole time I am sure that we are going in the wrong direction, when we stumble upon an ostrich. In the middle of The Netherlands. Apparently, there is some kind of town community bird and goat park. There were signs all around specifying what to feed the animals in the fence. The ostrich for some reason decided that it needed to protect me. Anywhere I would walk around the encampment, she would follow. It was pretty cool actually. Then a goat came what it deemed too close to me. The ostrich decided to charge it, full on wings up in the air. It was awesome! But it happened so fast that none of us got a photo. Needless to say, I think I made a friend.

Birds are really common in The Netherlands, in fact there is hardly a minute that goes by when I don't hear any squawks. It suprised me that so many stayed all winter long!  But I never thought I would see an ostrich just hanging out in the middle of a small town. Oh and Kasteel de Haar, it was in fact the way I thought it was, but we didn't make it inside so no tour for us. Because it was Monday, everything in the entire town was closed. The bus only comes once an hour and I really had to pee. So, we walked back to Vleuten and thankfully on the way I got to have another first experience, a dutch port-a-potty. 

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 9: Red

Swan

You probably guessed that for Red, I would post pictures from the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Good guess, but I bet you weren't anticipating seeing a bunch of photos of swans. When I was walking around the Red Light District in January, I was overtaken by the juxtaposition of resting swans against the sextastic streets. Cleary beauty is all around us. You just have to look. 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 8: Windows

There is nothing like windows in The Netherlands. They open different from American one's and people are in the habit of leaving their curtains open. Part of the fun for me walking around is taking a look in and seeing how people decorate and live their lives here. It's pretty awesome. 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 7: Something That I Wore

"What do you mean, you are bringing 12 pairs of shoes?" Loek said, when I told him what I was packing to bring to live in The Netherlands. 

" What do you mean, you are only bringing 12 pairs of shoes" My American friends would ask. 

Honestly, compared to most girls I know, 12 seemed like a small number. I wasn't sure what Loek was complaining about. But now that I live in the reality that is my life in The Netherlands, I do feel a bit silly about the 15 pairs of shoes that eventually made it into my suitcases. You see, I've worn the same shoes almost everyday this winter. My flat, pleater, combat boots. There is a perfectly logically explanation for this: Its cold here, people don't pick up after their dogs, it rains, like all the time! They are comfy, and I walk all the time. I can't walk in heels in the best circumstances, and there are cobblestones here. See, there are in fact several reasons! 

When it gets slightly warmer, I will try to wear my favorite brand of shoes, TOMS again. They are the most comfortable shoes in the world. But they are made out of canvas, so alas, I will only be wearing them on days that I check the weather forecast. If you don't like the look of traditional Toms, they just came out with a line of ballet flats for the Spring. I've owned 7 pairs of Toms and I am uber excited about this. So if anyone wants to supply me with a pair, size 7.5. I will love you forever. 

For those of you wondering, I am planning on going through my shoes. We have no shoe storage and some I will probably never wear with my new lifestyle. I do really need a pair of sneakers. Yep, you read that right. 15 pairs of shoes and none to exercise in! 

If you are coming to visit The NL, I suggest you invest in some good, waterproof walking shoes. 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 6: 5PM

It was a relatively nice day here today. The air was brisk but not unbearable. It was cloudy but the sun was out. And, the days have been getting longer for awhile now so that means that there is still plenty of sunlight out at 5pm. Which is why, I decided to take to the roof for my Nederlands lesson today. Since Loek and I live on the ground floor, we are not lucky enough to have a marvelous balcony to call our own. But, we do have access to our roof and this summer, that will be where you can find me. You know, on the like, 15 days it is not raining! I might even try to get a tan. Those of you who actually know me will know how funny this is. I got sunburned last year in April at the Keukenhof. I was even wearing sunscreen! But today was perfect for some studying up there.

I have become extremely diligent in my learning of Nederlands in the last two weeks. The language is Nederlands, not Dutch. Dutch is what foreigners called it because they got it confused with Duits.  I digress, after months of sparse attempts to learn and not wanting to turn into an expat who can’t communicate with the people who’s country she has invaded in their native tongue. I decided it was time to get serious. ( No offense to the expats who don’t feel the need to learn Nederlands, that is just not how I roll and I plan on being here for the long run.) Since my job feel through and we don’t have money for lessons, I have been treating learning Nederlands as my full-time job. Currently I am using The Rosetta Stone and Klare Taal in De Klas, a student’s grammar guide.

 

I actually really like Klare Taal in de Klas. Everything is in Nederlands, but since it is for school kids I can understand it. It does a really good job of explaining grammar and has exercises that I make Loek check. I realize that I can only get so far being my own teacher. Here in The Netherlands, they have a program called Inburgering. Basically, there are a lot of tests you have to take, a year’s worth of intense classes before those tests, that you have to take if you are a non- EU resident. Most people dread this like it is the black plague. You can either wait to be called or you can volunteer to start. Guess which one I did? Just waiting to hear back for my interview. Yes, I know I am crazy.

What are some of the most effective ways to learn a language you have in your arsenal?

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March Photo Challenge: Day 5: Smile

“ Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there”.  Old Saying

Look at those girls up there. Those are my soul-mates.

My cousin Ashley ( the blonde in the black shirt) who I have known my entire life, growing up we would spend our entire summer’s together. She married her high school sweetheart, and a year ago this month gave birth to my Godson! My best friends Hayley (red shirt) and Christy (white shirt dark hair) who I met in 6th grade. Growing up we spent more time in each others homes than our own. These are the sisters I got to choose. My other sister I got to choose is my cousin Alice, but she is not pictured.

I remember this particular day, like it was yesterday. It was over 10 years ago. It was at the last ever concert for Marvelous 3 before they broke up. Marvelous 3 was a great local Atlanta band, who’s lead singer was Butch Walker. It was the first concert we all got to go to without our parents. A few of us got fake tattoos, and a few of us flirted with boys. But the important thing was that we got to say goodbye to one of our collected favorite bands, together.

Since this moment captured in time, our lives have all changed. Three of us are married (hint, its not me yet), two of us have babies. We all live in different places, although coincidentally enough for at least a few months all three of them are going to live in South Georgia. We no longer have the same taste in music, but we still have our friendship. No matter how far away on of us might choose to move. And we always will.

Here is the song the Marvelous 3 is probably most famous for. They broke up because their record contract was ruining their friendship.

This is one of my favorite songs by M3, it is sung here by Butch Walker. I couldn’t find a good enough recording of it live from M3. And before you start, why yes, that does sound a lot like the Mott the Hopple, David Bowie written song all the young dudes. Mr. Bowie is listed as co-singwriter on the album.

I think that each of us has a band that takes us back to our formative years. For me it is M3 and Butch Walker. Who is it for you?

 

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