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expat life

Fluidity of Goals as an Expat

To do list

Preceding a big move, chances are you are going to have certain expectations about what life will be like in your new home. These are important to have because they allow you to start forming goals about your new life. After you land, you will probably find that some of your ideas of how life would go are just not plausible in your new place or, they are going to require a lot more effort than you originally thought. I am of a firm belief that goals and dreams should be fluid as different circumstances change. You can probably surmise that after living here for half a year, I have very different goals and expectations for my new life here than before I moved. Below I am going to illustrate some old goals and how they have now changed, since I am actually living here. 

 

Career: I had this idea that since I worked in a growing field in The States, I would have no problem translating that into a job here. Well, six months later and I haven't had so much as an interview. This is for a variety of reasons: I don't speak Dutch, and even though I have work experience that is solid for a 25 year old, I didn't finish University and that is a huge deal here. ( I mean, tuition is less than 2,000 Euros a year, and students get grants as long as they are under 30, so everyone holds a degree of some kind). A funny thing happened though after being unemployed and receiving several not nice rejection letters, I realized how much I don't want to work in the field I was in for the long term. So instead of wallowing on my limited career prospects, I am taking advantage of this life changing time and I am currently looking into my Higher Education options here, which is why I haven't written a post in a week. More on this later. 

Dutch: I have written before about how my old job told me that they couldn't keep me a week before I moved here. Because of this, I am of course not in the financial situation I had imagined. The good news is that I might get to freelance for them, so hopefully this will improve slightly. But, before I was planning on being able to pay for Dutch lessons. I was going to take a super expensive and intensive Dutch class at the University here so I could get a head start. This hasn't worked out, but I am currently waiting on the results of my Inburgering Placement Exam, so hopefully I will begin classes soon! 

Fitness:  I thought that sans car, the pounds would fly off of me. This was partially true, I have lost two pants sizes! But I also thought I would pick up bike riding again with ease. This was not the case, I found that I was quite uncomfortable on the old spare bike that we had, and I am the Queen of freaking myself out! The seat has since been lowered and after being pushed to ride in Amsterdam by my dear friend, I am now much more comfortable on my own bike. Although, I am still really slow. This week, I kept thinking that I would go for a long walk, but the weather has not been cooperating. I have given myself a firm goal of health and a deadline, as opposed to leaving it open ended and I have a support system. 

Apartment: It is going to take some time to get it perfect. It feels like home, but it isn't gezellig yet. We need some art! And pictures of friends! Oh and we should probably do something about the cursed wall that is now terrible looking. 

Friends: This is actually going better than expected, I have had an explosion in this category and couldn't be happier! 

The Verlo-: Honestly, they don't come better than what I got. 

 

The point is, being an expat is really hard. If you hold on to your preconceived notions about what life is going to be like, you miss out on the good stuff it actually has to offer! You should always be in flux, because life is anything but constant. That's my little piece of advice to those who venture out into the unknown.

What goals of yours have you changed?

 

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Curried Beef, Leek, and Potatoes

Leeks are one of the most underused vegetables in the United States. Which is a real shame, because it is one of my favorites, and one of the only veggies Loek and I can agree on. I think perhaps leeks are intimidating to most Americans because we never learn to cook them properly. In another post, I will have to show you how I clean and cut leeks, but for this recipe I cheated and used pre-cut leeks. This recipe has special meaning for me because it is the first meal my future mother-in-law made for me. Here is what you need:

Ingredients: Yields 4 servings.

  • 2 cups of chopped leeks. Conventional wisdom will say only the light green and white parts, but if you get a few leaves in there it is okay.

 

  • 500g or 1lb of lean ground beef

 

  • 1tbsp plus 1tsp curry powder

 

  • 1 beef bouillon cup. I use Maggi brand

 

  • 3 cups of peeled boiled potatoes. Pre-cooked is fine

Directions:

Place your ground beef is a large, deep skillet. Brown on medium high heat until almost all done and drain. Move all meat to one side of the pan and add in the leeks. Cook for 4 minutes, moving the leeks around on their side.

Mix the meat and leeks together. Add curry powder and mix. Cook for 2 mins.

 

Add in the bouillon cup, stir around to distribute the flavor. Add in 1 ½ cups of water and simmer for about 10 minutes.


 

 

Place on top of cooked potatoes. Then mash with a fork and voila!

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Peanuts, Get Your Peanuts Here!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have some pretty strange dietary habits. I have a lot of food rules: I hate blank but not if it is prepared like blank. For example, I hate coconut, but love Thai coconut chicken soup. I know, I am an anomaly. But really, I have got much more adventurous in the past few years. My favorite foods, however have been my favoritea, since I could eat solid food. A true G.R.I.T( hey get it?) or girl raised in the south, I love macaroni and cheese and boiled peanuts. 

One of these is fairly easy to make here in The Netherlands. You can get almost all the ingredients for my go to recipe in the local grocery stores here. I will post the recipe later. But boiled peanuts, that was what I was concerned was going to be a toughy. I mean come on, you can't even get them North of the Mason-Dixon line! So, I was ecstatic that in my latest care package from my mom contained three cans of Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts . While these are not as good as pulling off the road and buying bags of the stuff from a man with no shirt, no shoes, and no teeth. I would buy them in the states during the off season and they are a fine substitute when you can't get the real thing.I tried to ration myself, I really did. But I have very little impulse control, so soon I was down to one can left. 

But then yesterday, something amazing happened! I went to the Center to do some shopping with my friend Alison. ( You can check out here blog- A Flamingo in Utrecht, she has lived here a lot longer than me. It is interesting the difference in writing between a newbie like me and someone who has been here 3 years. ) After I dragged her to several stores on the lookout for baskets, I need to organize some stuff before my mom comes next Thursday, she wanted to go into TOKO. I've walked past this Asian Food Store every time I go to the Center, but since I am always on a mission when I go there, I hadn't popped in. What I found was part restaurant supply store, part Asian grocer and part expat shop. Alison had needed to buy baking soda. Yes, you have to go to a special store to find it. And I wondered around amazed at all the sauces and spices. I looked on a shelf and there was the most surprising thing I think I could have found, about 12 cans of Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts! I think it was the only time I have been in deep shock since I have been here. I now know where to come to get my fix! 

It was a great way to celebrate my 3 month Hollandversairy. The moral to this story is that what you need can be found in unexpected places, so never be afraid to look, and TOKO will have a frequent visitor from this Georgia Girl.  

flickr image by: cotye 

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