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living in Holland

In Memoriam of the Victims of MH17

It is National Mourning Day here in the Netherlands. Words are failing me as I try to describe the shock, heartbreak, rage, fear, loathing, and finally the microscope ping of relief now that some of the bodies have been brought home to Holland. My beloved adoptive country is small, only roughly the size of Maryland, almost everyone I know here has some sort of connection to at least one of the 193 Dutch victims on MH17. I am so proud of how the country has responded to this unthinkable tragedy. If you have a spare moment today please think some positive thoughts to all those affected by this horrible event. Thank you.

 
 

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10 Great Things About Life in Holland

rijksmuseum love

Hello Dear Ones,

So as it turns out, I am actually a bit late with this post. My brain was convinced that I moved here on the 9th of October, but it turns out it was the 5th! Whoops! I guess time really does fly when you are having fun! As I have said before, picking Loek and moving here are the two best decisions I've ever made.

I think the Netherlands is an amazing place to live, I'm so glad this is where we chose to make our life. And although it takes time no matter if you move across town or across the world to adjust, I am home. 

So, here it is the reasons I love the Netherlands!

1. My love is here, okay this one is a gimmie, but there are so many people with partners of a different culture who don't like the culture. Sure there are somethings that I find baffling about the Dutch, but to be fair, I find just as many things baffling about Americans as a group.

2. The international community is thriving. It is so amazing to me that my friends and co-workers are from all over the world, from so many different cultures, it helps me learn something new everyday.

3. Each city has a distinctive and very cool feel. Amsterdam is not Utrecht, Den Haag is not Amsterdam, Maastricht is not Groningen. Actually, I have never been to the last two cities, I need to rectify this ASAP. It is a small country, only about the size of Maryland, but there is a ton to do.

4.  No dubbing of tv shows. If a show is in English, then it is presented in English. Same with German or any other language. They just add Dutch subtitles! This is amazing and I think it is part of the reason the Dutch have an extended English vocabulary.

5. Drugs are well treated differently here. I'm not going to go into the whole drug debate, but coming from a place that is investing a ton of money into the war on drugs, and the crime rate associated with it, to a place where the whole attitude is different and the crime rate is much lower. 

6. Stroopwafels and oliebollen: My favorite Dutch treats, the latter of which is only available in Winter. But in the words of the Starks, "Winter is coming!"

7. I do not need a car: They are completely redoing the train and bus station here in Utrecht, and while it is driving me bonkers, I am glad that I do not have to drive a car. I hate driving!

8. I have great friends: Seriously, you just have to reach out and people are there to hang out with you. And, they make the days that you have expat blues so much better.

9. Living here is fun. There is always something to do or some new place to explore. Plus, the work/life balance ain't bad!

10. It's Europe. If my contract is renewed at work I will have 5 weeks of vacation. There are lots of places to explore and inter-europe travel is pretty cheap. I've got trips planned in my head. Here's hoping my contract is renewed.

Can you guys believe it has been two years already? What do you love most about where you live?

Until next time,

 

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Are You There Blog? It's Me Kaitlin

Oh my dears, I have missed you so much! I now know why people schedule guest posts when they travel, it is just too darn hard to find the time to post when you are not home. There is so much I want to tell you! I feel like my I've been going non-stop for the last month. I have some big things on the horizon like posting more regularly and finding my blogging passion again. I mean, I have to tell you guys about the States right?

I love you guys for sticking around, and if you are new, welcome I do actually post here. 

What have I missed in your lives? 

P.S Don't you guys love my hat, I stole it from my Nana. 

 

Until next time!

 

 

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Big GIANT Changes are Coming!

The blog's been a little lack luster lately. Which is actually on par with my personal moods as of late. After much naval gazing, I have decided that it is time to make some major changes in my life. Before you get all worried, I am not moving away from the Netherlands. 

While I love living here in the NL, I sometimes feel like my professional life took a few steps back, when I moved. I have always been someone who prides themselves on being a great employee, and a lot of my self worth comes from my job performance. I have also discovered that I am not cut out for student life. I despise almost everything about it. Its not that I don't love to learn, because I do, but it needs to be on my terms. I also hate the working nights and weekends, because I can't live without money, and the no free time. 

It got so bad that I realized that I haven't spent one whole weekend with my love in a year. A year, and he is the whole reason I moved over here! I can't see anything being worth that sacrifice, but it would help if I was in love with my program, which I wasn't. It was a lot of this is how you improve your English, and this is how you act professionally. Which is great, if English is not your native tongue and you haven't been working for the last ten years. Plus, having the Spanish requirement was making my Dutch go down the toilet. What I'm trying to tell you is, I'm done with it! 

That's right, I am no longer a student. Although, I will miss my girls! One good thing that came out of the past year is that I found a company that I like a lot, and I am thrilled to say that I am being promoted. That means that I'm going to have a regular schedule, a salary, and a position that is more like what I am professionally accustomed to.

So, what does this mean for the blog.  It means that you will get an even happier less stressed out Kaitlin. It also means that I will have more time to pursue my passions. I don't know if you guys really know this, because I don't share it very often, but I love to  cook, bake and craft. We just bought a new full sized stove, which will be delivered this week, so I can start to share some of the recipes I love. I'm also quite thrifty so I might throw in some of those tips as well.

I hope you guys will like the new changes. I am just so happy with this new direction my life is moving in! How about you, tell me what is going on in your lives! 

Until next time,

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You are my Joy!

Happiness project, being happy as an expat, living abroad, living in holland

Hello dearies! 

I hope you are all having an amazing week! It is my last week of school, so I am knee deep in projects, papers, and exams. But I really missed you guys! One of my final assignments of the year is a reflection report of the year and whether or not I met my goals for the school year. At first, I thought this was a weird assignment, but now I kind of love it. It has inspired me to look at other areas of my life and realize how amazingly blessed I am. 

One of my favorite quotes is "Comparison is the thief of joy" I have seen this quote credited to both FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, it was on the internet so it really could have been said by Willy Nelson for all I know. (Completely off topic, I just watched Our Idiot Brother, and the dog is named Willy Nelson, best dog name ever!) Anyways, I think the saying is really true and something that I hold dear to my heart. After all, we all think the grass is greener on the other side, even when it is not. Which is why I am instead trying to think of the things that are amazing on my life, and holding them close. Such as:

I finally feel like I am home. It is kind of weird isn't it? I feel like I am exactly where I was meant to be and I am incredibly happy in a place so far from where I was born, and where I am still not entirely fluent in the language. Sure, I have had my fair share of wow this is strange, how am I going to adapt? moments that everyone has when they move to a new place. And I miss certain foods and traditions that I grew up with, and of course friends and family, but I have never felt really homesick, because I am home. 

I have amazing friends. From my blogger girls, to my amazingly funny colleagues, to my close group of school chums, to those friends back in the States who have been great about keeping in touch, and of course my readers. You guys are great! I learned long ago not to involve myself with people who love and create drama, and this is working out pretty great for me. Seriously, you don't need people in your life who give you a bad time or who make you feel bad about yourself. 

It is finally feeling like spring! Honestly, I don't mind the winter here that much. I mean it is cold and all, and having it get dark at 4pm can bum anyone out a bit. But the trade off is that it is light out from 6am until 11 during the spring and summer! It is finally warm enough for picnics, and reading outside, and my favorite thing of all going on long walks. Plus as a special bonus, it is baby bird season. Seriously, nothing makes me as instantly insanely happy as seeing ducklings, cygnet or goslings. (Did you know that a cygnet is a baby swan? Yeah, me either!) You can think it is weird that I get so happy about something so simple, but it really does work. 

My family is so supportive. When I told my family that I was moving abroad, they were nothing but supportive of my dreams. In fact most of them said they knew this day would come. So, even though I had keep my long distance love a secret while I figured things out, telling them I was moving abroad was not hard at all. I knew they would be behind me, like they have been behind me my whole life. 

I try not to gush about the verlo too much on here, but really I am incredibly lucky. I have someone who makes me laugh, finds me funny, and who is so supportive. He is incredibly calm and mellow, which helps me to be calm and mellow. This is a huge thing, I've been compared to Monica from friends a lot in my life and I am uber type A. And since I told the truth about how much my shoulder has actually been bothering me for the last year, he has stepped up incredibly. From making dinner, to chores and grocery shopping. He even has put my hair up in a ponytail for me a few times when I want it up, because I can't right now. Honey, I know you are going to read this and I love you. I'm also sure you are going to point out my grammar mistakes in this post, and I love you for that too. 

While it can be incredibly easy for me to focus on the less than perfect things in my life: I wish I had more money, worked less, and lost weight faster. This doesn't really help anyone.  After reflecting on some of the small things that bring my joy, I came to the realization, which was quite stunning. I am happy! 

What are some of the things in your life that are great? Share them here and pass the love!

Until next time!

look at that cute baby face hiding there!

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June's Expat Blogger Brunch is Just Around the Corner

Expat Blogger Brunch June

Hello lovelies! 

Can you believe it will be June tomorrow, craziness right? I wanted to let you guys know that the June Edition of the Expat Blogger Brunch will be held in Leiden on June 16th. Lily and I look forward to these brunches so much each month and can not wait to see you guys there! If you want to attend  please RSVP by June 14th to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com. We try to keep the number around 15. 

Can't wait to connect/reconnect with you guys!

Just a reminder, the expat brunches are open to anyone with a blog! And our goals are to:

  • Generate a creative, social form
  • Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
  • Cultivate Social Media contacts into real life connections
  • Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
  • Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events

Hope to see you there or at the one in July! 

Until next time,

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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,

 

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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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The First Year's Over!

I can't believe it, I have now lived in The Netherlands and with Loek for a year today! Soo much has changed in what could be classified by some in a brief amount of time. As, I reflect on the last year, I can't help but feel that although things did not go exactly they way I thought they would when I first moved, I am still incredibly glad I got on the plane with my cat and decided to make a life here with Loek. 

When I first moved, I had no idea what I was really in store for. I did not realize how hard it would be to find a job. I also didn't realize that I would feel like I was in everyone's way whenever I walked out of my house. I have since -found a job, re-enrolled in school fulltime, and I am a speed walker. Here are a few other things that are different now then when I first landed.

I am really good at ease-dropping on conversations in Nederlands, I can read all menus without translation. I know what almost everything is in the grocery store. I can also order and hold a small conversation. I am still really uncomfortable speaking it, but I am sure that will come.

I know how to cook stampot, hutspot, and hachee. I know when oliebollen season is and which fish monger to go to at my local market. This year, I am going to try my hand a homemade speculaas. 

I have almost survived my first period  in an International higher education. It is not harder than the American system, just more work then I remember.

I can help both international and dutch tourists find their way or train in Utrecht and Amsterdam. 

I also learned that no matter where you live, you are the combination of your experiences and where you grew up. 

It is incredibly important to find friends that you can share your experiences with.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who stumbles across this blog. No matter when you started reading, your kind words and questions have made this journey a lot easier than it could have been. Sincerely, thank you! 

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What Has That Girl Been Up To Anyway

I know, I know, it has been forever since I've sat down and blogged. Life got in the way! First, my mom came to visit, then we set off to Germany to visit some family friends. Actually, my mom's good friend of 35 years and her husband. That is an incredibly long time to be friends! Then about two weeks ago, I started back at my 3rd attempt to get my bachelors. This time in International Tourism Management. I like my  , but there are some shocking differences in Higher Education here vs. what I am used to in the States. I'll be sure to write a full expose later on.

I hope to get into a rhythm soon. It has been tough going from staying at home all the time to only having one day off a week. I haven't even added in Inburgering back into the mix, because I have been waiting to be sent my new schedule, and every time I call, they refuse to speak English to me.

I am resolved to get the situation handled this week. So, what have you been up to dear ones?

 

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