expat living in the netherlands

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,



The Last Queen's Day

Yesterday, we here in the Netherlands welcomed in our new monarchs. That's right, we now have a king, King Willem Alexander. I could go more into the monarchy, and maybe one day I will, but what is important for now is that yesterday was not only Queen's Day, next year we will have King's Day, but that it was the last one for the foreseeable future. Last year, the Verlo and I braved the trains and ventured up to Amsterdam. This year with the stepping down of the Queen taking place in Amsterdam, we decided to forgo the insane crowd and stay in Utrecht, after all, I have never celebrated Queen's Day in my home city. 

One thing I noticed is that in Amsterdam the crowds are everywhere, in Utrecht they are in a few key areas around the city. I also noticed a lot more performers in Utrecht that I did last year, but that could just be that I walked around and last year we found a great spot and stayed there. Either way, Queen's Day is awesome!

There was music everywhere!

These kids were playing Smoke on the Water, pretty impressive at their age!

And these girls were singing the Andrew's Sisters, I love how eclectic the city is. 

One of the things about Queen's Day is that it is the only day of the year where markets are free to have. Hence you get everyone sharing their junk! 

This little girl was dressed as Pippi Longstocking. Fun fact about me, the year I went as Pippi for Halloween was my favorite costume ever!

And of course, some people party a bit too hard. I have no idea where this guy thought he was going to climb to, but he was unsuccessful. 

Off course, you need to have lots of orange decorations!

The Dutch may love Willem's wife, the newly crowned Queen Maxima, even more than the king.

Have you ever been in the Netherlands for Queen's Day?


For the Love of Travel Series- Lily from Lily Wanderlust (Guest Post)

Lily in Ghent

Today, I bring you a post from one of my best friends, not just in my expat life, but in life in general. Lily of Lily Wanderlust. After all, it isn't many people you down two bottles of wine with over lunch the first time you meet them. I could go on and on about how awesome she is, but I think it might be best for me to just let her speak for herself. Here it goes. 

Tell us a bit about you.

Hi there, Georgia Peach Abroad readers! I’m Lily, an expat blogger and friend of Kaitlin’s here in the Netherlands. Amsterdam has been my home for the most part since 2009 when I moved here on the fly to work as an au pair and in that time, serendipity brought my Dutchman and I together and now we live along the canals.

Where are you right now?

Keying in tonight at home in Amsterdam.

Where did you grow up?

My early years were spent outside of Chicago, so my roots are Midwestern but my formative years were spent in Central Florida which explains my penchant for southern charm, bluegrass tunes and a constant craving for sunshine! My mom is a flight attendant, so it’s no surprise my first passport was issues at only a few months old and every holiday from school was spent in a different corner of the world! I’ve been to 35 countries so far and plan to keep that list growing. My mom definitely instilled an appreciation for cultures and globetrotting. 

What is your favorite destination and why?

My current favorite is South Africa! I honestly had no idea what to expect before spending three weeks trekking around on safari in Kruger Park and road tripping along the Garden Route with my mom. Aside from the friendly, interesting people of South Africa, learning about nature on safari and exploring a completely new side of the world, there's just so much to learn about yourself and others while traveling through new places! 

What is your least favorite destination and why?

You’ve got me racking my brain trying to think up a place that I’d probably never return to again and I can’t think of any! In my experience, every location has its perks and disappointments and every adventure comes with a lot of laughs and a few tears of frustration. Although, I will admit that studying abroad in China made me lose all appetite for their cuisine, sadly.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

In January, I spent a few weeks back home in Florida. It’s my current favorite for the great memories I made catching up with hometown friends. Most afternoons were spent relaxing in the sunshine so this wasn’t what I’d consider wild traveling, just a (well needed) holiday. Spending cozy, quality time with my amazingly sharp 95-year-old Granny was a big part of my trip home as well. 

What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?

I split my week between an English language preschool and working as the Lifestyle Editor a media platform for, you guessed it- internationals in the Netherlands. You could say I’m very immersed in the expat community here in Amsterdam, which makes sense since culture and creativity are two important aspects in both positions. Engaging with other’s who are living overseas is great and after going through so many up’s and down’s in my own expat experience it feels good to help other’s find new ways to settling into life abroad.  I’d love a job that requires more travel and still haven’t given up on my mom’s dream for me to join a flight crew! At the moment, any travel for work is within the Netherlands and usually related to international community events.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I’m definitely a light packer- that is, unless I’m heading back from America with a suitcase of my favorite bits from home (especially hot sauce, sour patch kids and beef jerky for my Dutchman). For trips two weeks and under day backpack and a purse fits enough. This backpack and sleeping bag have been to a few different continents with me and I recommend both!

Clothes always flex with location but I’m a casual traveler. Mix and match outfits work great and save space. In my experience, long skirts, a jean jacket and a multi purpose scarves can go a long way with the right clothing combinations. 

At least one camera is always on hand while traveling! I use the Cannon Powershot G series, my Iphone 4s and on occasion one of my 35mm cameras like an old Nikon or Holga or FishEye. Capturing special moments while traveling make the best souvenirs. 

My must-have list includes: an mask, q-tips, rosebud salve, baby wipes, mini first aid kit and a good book. Any favorite things usually end up staying tucked inside and ready for the next trip! You can read about how I packed for safari in Kruger Park here.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

One of my best friends from back home is visiting me in Amsterdam (this week!) and we’re heading off for a few days in Paris together! It’s her first time in Europe and I can’t wait to her around Amsterdam! Plus, I haven’t been in Paris in years so there’s a lot to look forward too.

How do you plan your trips?

Planning trips is one of my favorite hobbies! Not just for the anticipating and curiosity that comes with discovering a new place but also because I genuinely really, really, enjoy research and planning! I like to pick my top 5 - 10 spots to check out (museums, festivals, monuments, eateries, etc…) and the adventure comes along with trying to navigate your way there- I love maps and navigation, getting lost is half the adventure!

What is your dream vacation?

South East Asia  and India are both high on my list for my next big trip. My Dutchman has visited multiple times and a slight hint of envy always strikes when he talks about how amazing his adventures were! Visiting India has always been a dream and after this much time spent in Holland I’ll take as much sunshine and warmth as I can get!

What kind of traveler are you? 

Budget travel is definitely a preference, along with discovering places off the beaten path and supporting the local businesses and artisans. Growing up, my mom and I made it all over the world with a rental car and an overly examined map and that’s still how I tend to travel today. A lot of our favorite adventures came along whilst trying to get to ‘our final destination’ (isn’t that what they all say?) For suggestions, my travel favorites are Lonely PlanetSpotted by Locals and Couchsurfing. Of course, if you have any connection to a local (through friends or family) then it’s great to get in touch and hear tips from locals.

After finishing university I spent 6 weeks backpacking and couch surfing around Scandinavia with a childhood friend. We made it all the up to the Arctic Circle of Finland for a friend’s summer wedding and also celebrated Swedish midsummer in the countryside in an adorable farm house stuffed full of Couchsurfers! That was such a random and memorable travel moments!

My personal blog is,  a lifestyle blog about everyday adventures of life in Amsterdam. You can also find me on instagrampinteresttwitter!

Thanks so much Lily! Check out her awesome pictures below. If you love her pictures or have any questions/comments drop them below. Also if you want to help a student out and be part of the series, drop me a line at

South Africa

South Africa with a Cheetah

South Africa


Lily in China

Panda China

HollandDutch Canals


Midsummer Sweden


St MarksB



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