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living in the netherlands

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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The New (Not Really) Blog Title Plus This Week in Instagram Vol 8

So, you may have noticed a little redesign including a title change here at the blog. Instead of being A Georgia Peach in Utrecht, it is now A Georgia Peach Abroad. The change happened for two reasons, the first is that everything else was already branded A Georgia Peach Abroad, and the other is that while I love living in Utrecht, for the next four years I will be enrolled in an International Tourism Management program at a Hogeschool that requires me to go to Amsterdam at least 4 days a week. During this program, I will also be required to spend one quarter studying abroad outside of The Netherlands. Plus a bunch of travel, so the name change felt appropriate.

But, now on to the photos! I can't believe how many I took this week!

Up first we have the houseboats or woonboten that I pass when walking home from inburgering. I think that woonboten are really fascinating. Maybe it is because I have a huge phobia of boats. Which I know is ridiculous when you live in The Netherlands. Trust me, I am doing my best to slowly get over it.

I feel like I have been seeing a ton of flowering vines over doorways lately. I love these pink roses at this art studio. The studio also offers classes which I will take, one day...

I'm obsessed with birds, but especially baby ducks! So, here are 3 pictures!

And here is a picture of a heron, you just have to look really close!

During the longest day of the year, The Netherlands was experiencing a mega storm. I know surprise, surprise. But there were some pretty awesome clouds!

My two main guys love to cuddle. Yep, they are pretty cute!

Here are my good friends just before and while they went for a nighttime canoe ride in Utrecht, I didn't join them, because again this fear of boats. But I did play photographer. If only I remembered that my iPhone has a flash! What makes me uber sad is that Amanda is moving back to the States tomorrow! Her husband is joining her at the end of July after he wraps some stuff up here. I'm going to miss her so much! 

Last but not least, I passed this sign in a window on the Oudegracht. For me it has two meanings, sometimes it has hard to believe that I'm not just visiting here, this is now my real life. On the other hand, since I have been here for 3/4 of a year, it is frustrating to be thought of as a tourist, when I ask a question in Nederlands and I am answered in English.

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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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7 Habits Adult Language Learners Can Learn from Bilingual Children

Here in The Netherlands, I pick up the occasional tutoring gig for young children who are bilingual, and who are too young to learn English in school. These are normally the children of Nederlanders who moved to English speaking countries and have since moved back here. Since I have started becoming serious about learning Nederlands, I can´t help but compare the relative ease of being bilingual in my charges, to the struggles I face everyday as an adult. I have pinpointed 7 habits that I see in my young bilingual students that I think will help me, and other adult language learners in their strife to become bilingual.

  1. Brush off mistakes/embarrassment: I am not quite sure when in our lives it becomes embarrassing to make a mistake, but it is really a terrible habit we develop. With my kids, if they make a mistake with their grammar or pronunciation, it doesn't phase them at all, they just keep going. In reverse, when my inburgering teacher calls upon people to read the text out loud, I don't think I could make myself smaller in my seat. The don't call on me because there is this word I am unsure of how to pronounce mentality is a real antagonist to my ability to learn. What I and other adults need to realize is that no one is perfect 100% of the time, if we were there would be no reason to be in a class because we would already be fluent. Be proud of your mistakes, they mean you are actually learning. 
  2. Set apart time to learn: While I think that you should be open to learning your new language whenever it presents itself, having a set time that you know is dedicated to learning is really helpful. For example, my students know that when they see me, we will be speaking in English. We try to make it at the same time each week, that way the kids are already in the mindset that on Thursdays at noon, they can not play with their friends, they have their lessons. Conversely, I know when I have my inburgering lessons each week, but when I get to my homework is anyone's guess. I think that next week, I will have set study times for my homework, that way all of it will actually get done.
  3. Have a  designated place to learn: Each time I see my kids, we go to the same spot in their house to have our lessons, this is the same place they do their homework. Most of the time it is a dining room table. When I was in high school, my space was on the floor of my best friend Christy's bedroom. In college it was a local coffee shop. I do not do well at home, too many distractions. Here in Utrecht, I think I will try the beautiful Utrecht Centraal Library, since I have a love affair with the building anyway. My point is, find a place free of distractions to make it easier to learn. 
  4. Just do it: Children have teachers and parents to hold them accountable for their learning. As adults, we are accountable to ourselves, but sometimes having a partner in our learning can help.If that is not possible, then you are going to have to just grin and do it. No excuses, you have already set apart this time to learn. But at the same time...
  5. Know when you have hit a wall: With my students it is easy to tell when they have hit a wall. It is when they suddenly lose all interest in what we are doing. If you have read the same page four times and still are not comprehending it, it is time to try a new tactic.
  6. Try something else: When we are learning our first language, we watch movies, we sing songs, we read stories. Why do we not utilize the tools when trying to learn our second? When you have hit a wall with your grammar books, try doing something fun with the language. Watch a movie in the language, listen to local artists, it is good to remind yourself why you wanted to learn it.
  7. Don't get discouraged: This goes along with the mistakes thing, think about how long it took you to become really proficient in your language. Now compare that to how long you have been trying to learn your second. See, you are doing better than you thought. Keep it up!

Do you have any language learning tips?

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Mijn Eerst Nederlands Les

This week has severely kicked my butt! This is the first week since I moved to The Netherlands that I have had something that I've had to do everyday of the week. On Tuesday, I finally began my Nederlands courses. You will remember that I had a minor freak out about these the week before. (Okay, let's be honest, huge freak out). I am happy to say that the first week was not as bad as it could have been. Yes, I am slightly far behind the class. But, not embarrassingly so. I must say that three classes a week, plus one mandatory computer lab day, all for 3 hours and 15 minutes, plus an additional two hours of homework before each class is a bit much. 

The way my class is organized, there is a lot of working together with a partner. This is okay, I have been partnered up with a very sweet guy from Turkey most of the week, but I can't help but feel that maybe learning our pronunciations of the words from other students is helping no one when communicating with actual Nederlanders. In fact, when I come home and tell The Verlo- what I have learned each day, he says he hasn't a clue what I am even trying to say. Another thing that I don't particularly like is the once a week computer labs. We have to sign in so it counts towards our 80% attendance.( Or else you have to pay 260 euros) However, there is nothing that we do that we in there that we don't have access to at home, and my computer is a whole lot faster! But, oh well. This also means that before we break for a month and a half in July, I will have significant less classes then I originally thought.

There is still no word about what will happen in September when I need to switch to evening classes in order to attend my Hogeschool. I've decided that I worry too much about things I can not control, things will work out one way or another. 

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This Week In Instagram Vol.6

This week has been a whirlwind of emotions. I am happy to report that I have them now mostly in check. Sometimes, a girl has just got to vent! Especially when she is an obsessive life planner who calls and checks on things at least twice before making her decisions, only to have been told the wrong information. But I digress. I also didn't take that many photos with my phone this week. That is because we got my phone bill and it was 35 Euros over what it was supposed to be. I thought maybe that had to do with my data usage. I have no sense of direction and last month there was a lot of traveling to new places for interviews and to meet up with new friends, so I thought maybe my incessant use of Google Maps and GPS was taking its toll. But no, apparently the problem is I talk too much! This should come as no surprise to people who know me in real life. Probably a few readers could have also guessed that I am very loquacious. My plan for the next phone bill ends in 3 days and I am already 13.50 over. So, the moral dear friends is expect a lot more texts from me to coordinate plans. But, the good news is my data usage is hardly anything. So more pictures! 

As I mentioned in the happier of my two posts this week, on Sunday the Verlo- and I stumbled upon Zumba at the Domplein. Here are some more shoots I took with my phone. As you can see, the weather was yucky, but dancing sure was fun!

Then I caught Mr. Atticus looking adorbs. Seriously, I might be partial, but you would be hard pressed to find a cuter cat. Just look at those furry toes!

I don't know if you know, but the European Championships for Football (Soccer) are happening right now. Voetbal is huge here in The Netherlands. Stores have been stock piling oranje gear for weeks! Holland is in what is know as the Group of Death, with Germany, Denmark, and Portugal. Our first game was last night against Denmark. I went all out with my adorable lion mane that we got for buying a lot of Holland Edition MM's. Too bad we lost! Even though we had possession of the ball I'm guessing 95% of the game. We just had a bit of trouble with too much heat on the ball, as our shoots kept flying over the goal post. Oh and Denmark's goal was absolute shite. Seriously, luck was not on our side. Next up we get to play Germany who beat Portugal last night.

Next week I promise to be in a better mood! I am excited for my inburgering classes to finally begin on Tuesday, but the shy kid I was in high school is starting to sneak back in. I am convinced that I will have to introduce myself in Nederlands before the class that already knows each other, so I have been rehearsing what to say about myself all week! Yep, I'm nerd. Also, this was my first full week of giving up soda, and I have been exponentially more tired. Next week, I'll be consuming more coffee.

What did your week look like?

 

 

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Zumba in Front of the Dom

Sometimes, you stumbled upon marvelous things in Utrecht. One Sunday a month, the city hosts Culturele Zondag, (Cultural Sunday). Most of them have theme's, I missed the last two months, but I wrote about March's. This month's theme had to do with Dance. There were different stages of set up all over the city for different dance troops to perform, the only problem is that it was freezing and raining here on Sunday. We are talking in the 50's!

The Verlo- and I did venture out for a bit, where we came across a Zumba lesson going on right in the Domplein.

This is the instructor who worked really hard to get the crowd into it!

The crowd really got into it! Including me, although there is no evidence of that.

On Saturday, Utrecht celebrated its 890th birthday. Although, the city is much older than that. This booth was set up to have people make flags in honor of the city. They are to be hanged all over. 

Despite the freak out Monday and Tuesday, I can't imagine myself happier in any other place.

 

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Inburgering Orientation, Or When Culture Shock Finally Hit Me and I Burst into Tears.

This has been a rough week and it is only Tuesday! Yesterday, I had my Inburgering Orientation. I was going to write this post then, but thought that maybe things would seem better in the morning. They haven't. Let's start at the very beginning.

You might recall from my last post about Inburgering that I was waiting for the letter telling me at what time and where my Inburgering Update would be. I finally got that letter last week. My orientation was to be from 1pm-3pm. The location, is really hard to get to by public transportation. Already not ideal. I went to look on Saturday so I would make sure I didn't get lost on the way to the school. It took me 45 minutes by bus. 

Now to the actual orientation. This was fine, the lady was really nice, but people were very disappointed because they only offer 3 classes in the morning, a really slow class, an A1-A2 class, and a B2 class. I know this probably doesn't mean much to you, but these are the different levels they have for learning Nederlands. I was put into an afternoon class for 0-A1, even though when I tested I was between A1 and A2. When people asked about the evening class, they were told there was only one and it was really advanced. Shit, I need to switch to evening classes in September because, I am going to school. Freak out moment number 1. To be fair, my contact did tell me to call her when I am ready to switch, so I am hoping at a different location, they will have an evening class that fits me. I also switched to the A1-A2 morning class, because I looked through the other book and I knew it all.

One of the weirdest things I think about Inburgering is that you join a class already in session. My afternoon class is already on chapter 5, and my morning on chapter 3. Doesn't language build on itself? Doesn't it seem like you are already setting up people to fail? Wouldn't you want to make sure people have the basics down if you are paying the 5,000 Euros I read somewhere that the inburgering process costs per person?

Also, I start classes next week, but the school is on vacation from July 7th until August 27th. So, I will be in class for four weeks and then out for a month an a half. I'm going to forget everything! So, basically, I was so frustrated with the worry that I might have to teach myself an entire level of dutch to be able to take the evening class, that I came home and cried my eyes out. Because, here is the thing, I want to be a part of society here. I want to get a job, I want to attend school and better myself so that I can be a contributing member of society. Why does it have to be so hard?

To compound my frustration, I also found out that I might not be entitled to as much financial aid for my HBO program as I was originally told. Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative that I get any. But when you were told to expect 509 Euros a month, but you might actually only get around 250, that is kind of a big difference. This on top of the sorry you don't speak Dutch email I just got from the student employment agency in Utrecht. I guess I will try the one at my Hogeschool which I was told help International Students. But all this together makes someone even with my resolve that this is where I am supposed to be, curl up into fetal position and wonder if I can even afford to stay here with the love of my life. 

Don't worry, I am a fighter, I'll make it through, but why's it got to be so hard? 

Words of encourgment greatly appreciated! 

 

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Le Guess Who May Day and De Zelf Gemaakte Markt

This weekend was soo much fun! The sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky, could this really be The Netherlands. Since I have been traveling non-stop this month, I wanted to actually spend this weekend in Utrecht! 

Saturday, there was a ton of stuff going on in the Center! I checked out a bit of the Le Guess Who May Day Festival and de zelf gemaakte markt.

Le Guess Who is a music festival that takes place in the Fall every year in Utrecht. I have never actually been, but I think it is kind of a big deal. They also have the Le Guess Who May Day and Mini May Day. The Mini May Day has bands popping up and playing mini shows at local businesses. The businesses would receive a new band about every 30 minutes. You could tell the local businesses that were a part of it by the giant question marks stationed outside. This one is in front of The Village Coffee and Music on Voorstraat. They actually sell coffee there, it isn't the other kind, and it is the  one coffee shop that reminds me the most of the ones I would hang out in, in ATL.

What happened to my text here! Anyway, I also went to de zelf gemaakte markt. For those of you who can't translate the Dutch, think of it as an indie craft fair. It is still fairly small, but I think it is new so it will be interesting to see how it grows. I didn't buy anything, but I was inspired to start crafting again. The next one is June 30th, at the Mariaplaats.

As fun as these things were, I think probably my favorite part was walking around the Center with The Verlo, and later meeting up with All Mussed Up and making some new friends.

Oh, and randomly there were some Romans, complete with chariot. I still have no idea what this was about!?!

What did your long weekend look like?

 

 

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This Week In Instagram Vol.4

Whew, this has been a crazy week! I had testing and an interview in Amsterdam for school, Book Club, an interview for a tutoring job, and a last minute freelance job start. It's been great! But I forgot to take a lot of pictures of my explorations. I did however manage a few.

After my test, I went to go meet up with my friend in Amsterdam, I missed the metro stop and decided to walk. Those are swans.

One of my interviews was in the lovely Dutch countryside. How picturesque are these horses?

These wildflowers are popping up everywhere, they also come in bright yellow!

The weather is finally starting to feel like Spring, which means it is time for Spring Cleaning! Today's task was going through all my clothes reorganizing for the warmer weather. I own a lot of floral and a lot of mustard. Who knew?

 

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