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living in Holland

How I Fared in My 26 Things Before I'm 26 Challenge!

It is a week until my 26th Birthday! Happy Birthday Alice! Since there is only a week to go before I am 26, I wanted to revisit my list of 26 Things Before I´m 26. I didn´t do as well, but to be fair, when you move to another country, all your plans go topsy/turvy. Hopefully, now that I know what life is like here, I can make a better list next week for 27 Things Before I´m 27.

 

1. Move to Utrecht.   Done and Done!

2. Be able to communicate in Dutch. I´m so much better than a year ago, but I am far from fluent.

3. Get married, I'm engaged so this isn't a huge jump. I feel married, does that count?

4. Take up ballet again. I finally have a job, maybe I can look into this. 

5. Find a core group of friends in my new country.  I am happy to say I have friends, and I am meeting new people all the time!

6. Develop a sense of personal style and dress accordingly.Maybe when I lose weight I will buy some new clothes!

7. Learn to bake and cook in my Nederlands kitchen  I cook almost everyday.

8. Start my tour guide business. I decided to go to Uni for first!

9. Learn to sew. Curtains count right? 

10. Go to Paris. (I went when I was 11, but the Louvre was on strike the whole time) Maybe this year...

11. Write letters to my friends back home. Christmas cards.

12. Get back to the weight that feels best on my frame. Not yet, but I have been re-inspired by the Olympics!

13. Read 100 new books, including some classics. Probably should have added some more classics, but I did alright. 

14. Start making metal jewelry again. I've made some designs.

15. Book my honeymoon, we probably wont go right after the wedding. Not relevant until we get married.

16. Learn how to share, I was practically an only child.  I've been a lot less selfish this year.

17. Become an expert bike rider. Still working on it.

18. Attend Amsterdam Fashion Week. Maybe this year?

19. Knit a sweater. I made half a scarf. 

20. Learn the art of light layers.

21. Eat better, I have a horrible diet.

22. Start bringing in money again.  Yay, new job!

23. Continue adding to the retirement fund. Yay, new job!

24. Laugh more.

25. Get over my fear of boats.

26. Stick to my plans.

Look for my new list on the 14th! 

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New Job, Birthday, Parents, and School Orientation. August is Shaping Up to be a Great Month!

I started my first official job here in The Netherlands this week! I went in for my interview on Tuesday and was able to start on Wednesday! Right now, I am working five days a week, but that will change in September, when I start my HBO program and will probably go down to two. Words can not describe how great it feels to finally have work after being virtually unemployed the entire time I have been here.Plus I really like my office, the work itself, and my colleagues!

In addition to starting a new job, there are some other really exciting things happening for me this month! My birthday is on the 14th, but I'm kind of ignoring it in favor of other things. Plus, I don't really love the way the Dutch treat birthdays, but that is for another post. I have orientation on the 30th and 31st, and I am excited to meet my new classmates for the next four years, in my 3rd attempt at  But most important, my parents are going to be in town from the 23rd to September 1st. Luckily, my new boss is flexible enough to allow me to have that time off!

I am so excited for my parents to come. It will be my mom's 2nd time, she came in Jan, but this will be my stepdad's first time and I am excited to show him where I live! We are also going to Germany for the weekend when they are here to visit some family friends, and it will be the first time I have left The Netherlands since I moved here in October!

What does your month look like? 

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Let The Sunshine In!

Sorry, I´ve been noticeably absent from the blog this week, I was working on a blog exchange for 20 Something Bloggers, but my swap partner disappeared off the face of the earth, plus the sunshine came back to The Netherlands. For those of you who didn´t live through it, this July was miserable. Like rain jacket, scarf, didn´t see sunlight for the whole month miserable. To be fair to the weather, I somewhat expected it. I mean, I did move to the same latitude as Edmonton, Canada and to possibly the rainiest place on the planet, but it is really weird to be cold in July! 

All that changed this last weekend however, when the sun came back with a vengeance. Not a cloud in the sky, nothing but blue skies. Since this is supposed to disappear tomorrow, I have become fully integrated and took advantage of the sunshine while it lasts. 

How was your week?

 

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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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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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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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I Have Confidence that Spring will Come Again.

Sometimes, I dream of being Fraulein Maria. Well, maybe I should clarify, I do not dream of being an ex-nun in Nazi Occupied Austria, who goes to work for some horrible children as a governess, only to eventually win them and their father over, then to have to literally sing for my life to escape said Nazis. A more accurate description would be that I dream of being Julie Andrews, singing on top a of mountaintop in a floral dress, arms outspread, face towards the sun, spinning and singing about the hills being alive with the sound of music. This dream occurs with much great frequency since I have moved to The Netherlands.

You see, there are no mountains in The Netherlands. There is not even a proper hill in my opinion. Being mostly below sea level, I live in one of the flattest places on Earth. This is part of what allows bicycles to be so popular here. I’m not complaining mind you, but growing up in the Piedmont of Georgia, I am used to being able to see Stone Mountain as I am driving down the highway and full on mountains if I were to drive an hour North. All this flatness takes some serious getting used to. “ I want to see mountains again, Gandalf – mountains” is an expression I find my head saying on a daily basis. What? A Sound of Music and A LOTR reference in one post? What am I a Gilmore Girl?

So, what does this tangent have to do with anything? Well, because I dream of mountains, I often get the songs of The Sound of Music stuck in my head and since before today this week had been terrible I have been singing “I Have Confidence in Me”. This is really is the perfect song for a nervous expat. It is all about making the best of this amazing opportunity you have in life.  But this week the verse that has been sticking with me is:
 

I have confidence in sunshine.
I have confidence in rain.
I have confidence that Spring will come again.

And today it it was such a beautiful day, that I do have confidence that Spring is on its way here. I can’t wait!

*Disclaimer, apparently there are some mountains in the South, but I have never seen them

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 3: My Neighborhood!

Leidsche Rijn

As I have said before, Loek and I live in a little suburb outside of the City Center of Utrecht called Leidsche Rijn. A relatively new neighborhood, it is nevertheless ripe with history and artifacts. Leidsche Rijn itself has at least three distinctive neighborhoods, and where Loek and I live is right in the middle. For this challenge, I chose to use a neighborhood of Leidsche Rijn called Parkwijk. Mostly because it is my favorite!  

De Grauwaert:

De Grauwaert, Leidsche Rijn

De Grauwaert, Leidsche Rijn

 

The Netherlands loves its parks and Leidsche Rijn is no different. Off the top of my head, I can think of six parks or playgrounds that are within a eight minute walk from my apartment. Above is De Grauwaert, one of the coolest parks near my home.

Translated, the sign roughly says: In Leidsche Rijn lies a large amount of archeological monuments protected by law. One of those is Park Grauwaert where lies the remains of a small castle-island and a front terrain surrounded by canals.

The Grauwaert must have been special in the late middle ages, from how the complex was shown on old maps. On the map of Specht from 1696 you can see that the castle was in a corner of the Old Rijn. When the buildings were demolished is unknown, but the castle doesn't appear on maps from after 1800.
 
The results from both archeological research and the information of historical maps have inspired the designers of Park Grauwaert. In the design all the characteristic elements of the Grauwaert are found back: the island, the Old Rijn, and the surrounded by channels front terrain. 
 
You might remember from a previous post, this is why I am convinced our apartment is haunted
 
This is also part of the Grauwaert. I have seen more of these scattered throughout the countryside here. I really need to look up more about them! The building on the right is my local branch of the library!
 
swan, leidsche rijn
Today, I got to see this guy fly over my apartment to this park. It was a beautiful sight, but he made me sad because he was all alone! Swans are everywhere here and they still haven't lost their majestic loveliness to me. 
 
Leidsche Rijn College
 
This is Leidsche Rijn College, think high school if you are American. I included it in my neighborhood tour because its students are everywhere, all the time. I call them the delinquents because when school ends, they wont let you get off the bus. They swarm at all exits trying to sneak on. It is the only time most weeks where I want to yell at a Dutch person. 
 
The road to the City Center. You have to go past the concert hall and over the yellow bridge. 
 
The streets here all have theme names. Every street connected to the main road have spice/ herb names, another main street has all its connecting streets named after butterflies. It is a pretty cool little tie in. Can you guess what this street name translates too? 
 
Thanks for allowing me to show you a little bit about my new neighborhood. What do you like most about the neighborhood you call home? Remember, it is not too late to join March Photo Challenge from Fat Mum Slim
 
 
 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 2: Fruit!

Today's topic was almost enough to derail my efforts on the second day of the challenge! You see, I am not a fruit person. I much prefer vegetables and I am more of a savory person then a sweet one. If I do eat a fruit, it has to be something relatively exotic for me to enjoy it. I'm not sure if it is the taste of things like mangoes, star fruit, and dragon fruit that I like or that it is not run of the mill. I may need to examine this further. Anyways, here are some mangoes, taken at my local supermarket. Yes, we have grocery stores here in The Netherlands. 

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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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