moving to holland

Know Before You Go

I think I did a decent job of preparing myself before moving over here. I checked immigration websites, blogs, etc for any information I could find before I left. I thought that the verlo- and I were doing the responsible thing by going to City Hall and changing his address to our new apartment and my address to the same. 

After being sent back and forth between a few departments, we finally got a number to wait in line. Apparently, the verlo- could have just gone online and changed his. Something new to keep in mind if you are living here in The Netherlands. After waiting an hour, we were finally called. But unfortunately, my name is not on the rental agreement so they could not register me. So much for being responsible. The lady was really mean too, that famous Netherlander service I've heard so much about. 

It is not too big of a deal, we just had to call the apartment people, and they have sent us a form in which we have to fill out and the process could take weeks. We called IND and they said it was ok, I just have to report within 3 months of landing, not the 3 days that I had originally read. So, at first I had a freakout, but now I am ok! We just didn't read anywhere about the rental agreement so I thought I should tell you. Other than that, things are going good so far. I have just been busy trying to get our new place ready to move in!  

Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All My Bags are Packed I'm Ready to Go!

I leave on Tuesday, hard to believe I know! I feel like we have all been waiting so long for me to move and now, it is finally almost here. I don't know that it has hit me yet. Atti had his last vet appointment today, we just had to get the airline form filed out. I also had to buy him a bigger carrier because he grew again! As for me, all my stuff is packed. I ended up buying another giant duffel, which actually turns into a backpack! Now Loek and I can maybe go backpacking through Europe one day. I am checking both of those, bringing a weekender and Atti on the plane with me. My mom is bringing my summer clothes when she comes to visit in January. Since, I am basically ready to go, I am just going to hang out with my mom for these last few days (She is having a really hard time, I am her only). 

As for the apartment, Loek is working hard on it everyday. But since there is so much to do, we probably won't be able to move in the weekend after I land. Which is okay, I will just get to help get it together. I don't know if I will get to update this again before I leave. But just in case I don't: Thank you for reading about all my prep to leave! I promise there will be a different, but equally cool (or cooler) focus to my blog. 

What A Brand New Dutch Apartment Looks Like!

While I was partying hard this weekend, Loek was working on our brand new apartment! He picked up the 8 keys that we were supplied with on Friday. As well as, going to ikea to pick up our new floor. Saturday and Sunday he prepared the walls for wall paper. Today, my fantastic future in-laws have been working on putting up wallpaper and fixing our concrete walls so I can one day paint them. Hopefully, this week the walls get done, and Loek can start to put down our floor. 

Since we got the apartment a week later than we were expecting to, Loek will not be moved in until the weekend after I land. I expect to have to help him pack up his stuff after I land. Which is fine as I am now an expert packer! I promise to keep you all updated on our progress as it goes. But for now, please watch our video! 

 

 

All That's Really Left to do is Party!

I leave in 2 weeks from today. Hard to believe, I know. It feels like it has been an eternity of waiting. Surprisingly, I am not nervous at all. Atti’s documents came back from the USDA so he is good to go. All I have left to do in so far as preparing, is actually packing my suitcases. But, if you have been reading for a bit, you know that I have done trial runs so many times, this should be easy.

My last day of work is on Friday and it is so nice to be able to enjoy my last week here in the States. Friday is actually a hugely exciting day, the verlo- gets the keys to our apartment, (he has promised to send pictures, so you guys can keep up with the apartment progress) and my family and friends start to come in for my EPIC WEEKEND OF MERRIMENT! Yes, it was totally necessary to screech that at you.

This weekend, I am having what I deemed “The Last Chance to Hang Out with Me Before I Become Euro-Trash!” on Saturday. Which basically means I have friends and family embarking to my parent’s house this weekend. They hail from all sorts of locales across this great nation to see the enigma that is me! (Modesty, was never my strong suit, but yet I have friends?) Sunday, there will be a lingerie brunch in my honor. My 87 year old Nana will be in attendance, yet somehow I do not feel the need to censor myself. Get ready ladies for a brunch of epic proportions! A brunch makes it classy. Obv. A special shout out to my Mom and bestie Christy for hosting. Did you know that when introducing people you are supposed to say their name first and their relationship to you second. So that sentence should have read, you know if I was polite like- A special shout out to Susan, my mother and Christy, my bestie for hosting. There I thought you something, in the SEO world they would say my blog now adds value.

I am annoyingly snarky when I am sublimely happy. Anyways, I really can’t wait to see my beloveds this weekend. I will miss them all terribly, but now they have a really epic place to come visit!

 

Not with a Fizzle, But with a BANG!

This week has been pretty strange to say the least. Yesterday, marked weeks until the day that I get on the plane to leave for The Netherlands. I know, I can't believe it is that soon either! Today, I learned that my company is not going to keep me on board after I move to Europe. It's fine, but I was expecting for Loek and I to have that as extra income, and it would have been nice to know before a week and a half before my last day. So, it is a little shocking to suddenly not have a job, like I planned. I didn't mention the possibility before because, I didn't want to jinx it.

I could dwell on this, but I can't help but, be so excited for the time to really get to know my new country, before I can get a work permit for a Dutch company. In 20 days, I move to Europe, and in 21 days I get to be with the love of my life. It has been 6 months since we have seen each other, so needless to say, we are excited! Loek gets the keys to our new apartment a week from Friday. So, my time before I leave will be spent wondering what it will look like when he is done. I will have to help him move the bulk of his stuff the first weekend I am there. That will be interesting, we don't own a car. 

Anyways, I plan to spend my new found freedom, learning nederlands, making use of my museumkaart, cooking the verlo- dinner, and learning to ride my bike. I could not be more ready for the next phase of my life to begin. I plan on spending the next few weeks going out with a BANG! 

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I Am Most Worried About Not Being Able to Learn Dutch!

Few people know this, but when I was little I had a serious speech impediment. I had to go to speech therapy all though elementary school, every year in the middle of math. (which explains a lot). They could never discover the source of why I didn't say things correctly and finally I was able to convince my mom that I shouldn't go anymore. I think the reason I couldn't talk properly is that I don't hear sounds properly. I then try to mimic what I think I heard, causing mispronunciations. As I have gotten older, I have been able to fake my way through and disguise my problem, but with a new language comes new sounds and that makes learning a new language 10x, harder than it already would be.

I also have no phoentical skills, I have never been able to look at a word and automatically pronounce it correctly if I have never seen it before. ( I can normally say it somewhat right in my head, but when someone says something has a long a, I have no clue what that means) I couldn't say Hermione right until after the first movie came out. Which meant that in school reading out loud was my worst nightmare. After years of practice, I again can fool people in English, but probably not in Dutch or Nederlands as they call it. I am confessing my deep dark secret so that you, my readers, can understand. My biggest fear about moving all the way to The Netherlands is that, I will not be able to integrate into society because I won't be able to learn Dutch.

I have not been actively pursuing trying to learn Dutch in the States because, I am convinced that I will learn it wrong! I need someone to tell me over and over how something is pronounced.  If anyone out there has some foreign language learning tips out there, or recommendations for Nederlands classes near Utrecht that are good, I would love to hear them. I am just thankful that I am still able to telecommute for a bit to my current job, so I dont have to feel even more pressure than I already do. But rest assured, The Verlo will make sure I practice everyday until I speak Nederlands as well as he speaks English.

 

Kindle, An Expat's Best Friend?

I really love to read, and I really love to own books. I think they are great conversations starters and I like for people to automatically know I am smarter and more obscure in my references that they are.( Please read sarcasm in that last statement) Which is why it surprised people when this bibliophile purchased an Amazon Kindle. I am in love with it now and I think they are great for expats to have. I chose the Kindle specifically for a few reasons. 

So, why did I buy an ereader? Well, I am moving to a foreign country where English is not the most widely spoke language, and I don't read in Dutch. Most books in English are imports so they are uber expensive. My Kindle with 3G allows me to download books globally. So, I could spend on average around 10.00 for a kindle book or a lot more for an import. Kindle also have a ton of free books, including 15,000 titles copy written before 1923. That means, I can read all those great Russian Novels, that I never got around to, for Free! They also have a ton of free new eBooks and other specials.

I bought the Kindle instead of another ereader for a variety of reasons. I have always been an Amazon person, so I went with what I knew. They are easy to use around the world, and I like that you can use it outside, with limited glare. Not too big of a deal in The Netherlands, but nice none the less. I really hate reading on the computer, but for some reason I have no problem with the Kindle. You can adjust the size and spacing of your text, and look up words if you are unsure. Plus, I found the accessories to be the best. I bought a euro plug so I am good to go.

There are of course, a few things I would change; instead of a list of the books you purchased, I wish you could see the image. And, I just really think  that organizing your titles could be a little better. You also have to get a special case with a light to be able to read at night. Which is fine, my light is powered by my Kindle.

All and all, I am extremely happy with my Kindle purchase and know that it will allow me to read more and cheaper than if I had to buy English books in The Netherlands. 

Atti Went to the Vet!

I've written quite a bit about my preparations for Atti's move with me to The Netherlands. This is because, it is quite a process and there is not too much online that makes it really easy. Last Saturday, Atti and I went to our USDA approved vet to have his European Microchip put in, as well as his rabies shot. I wrote a post about where to find a Euro Microchip, for those of you who are interested. You have to get a rabies shot either after or at the same time as the microchip insertion. I took Atti in a different carrier because I did not want him to associate his Sherpa bag with a negative experience.

Atti, was great. The vet said he was a fantastically behaved kitty, which of course I knew. The Euro 998 form was filled out and now I just have to send it into the Georgia USDA office to get it signed. Also, because he is flying with me and not below, he can be sedated. Which is awesome for everyone. It means he can go to sleep and wake up in Holland. The other passeng intereers wont be bothered either. Everyone will be a lot happier.

Atti did not want to get back into the carrier after his ordeal, so he crawled into my purse. He was so cute and comfy that I just carried him out that way. It is such a relief to have Atti, unlike myself, almost ready to go. 

 

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On Cooking

I love food! It is one of the great passions I have in my life. I love reading about food, talking about food, cooking and baking, experimenting with new flavors, grossing my friends out with my fearless pursuits of interesting exotic flavors, and of course consuming it. (Just don't let me near a red bell pepper, there is nothing more disgusting on this planet than a bell pepper, and the red ones are their own breed of disgusting). Some of my favorite memories come from food, I was fortunate enough to be able to bake my two best friends wedding cakes.

It should come at no surprise then, that over the years, I have acquired a pantheon of cooking supplies. Cookbooks, dishes, measuring cups, decorating tips, whisks, flower nails, and my prized Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer. Naturally, with limited space and bringing just 4 suitcases under 50lbs a piece, certain sacrifices must be made. Instead of transporting about 20 cookbooks to The Netherlands with me, I have been painstakingly writing out the recipes that I like from each of them. Yes, it is time consuming, but I have managed to put all the recipes I want into a two inch binder! I do the same thing with the uncounted multitudes of cooking magazines I had in my possession. All those recipes can be found on the magazines' websites- I've wasted a lot of money over the years. I made Loek check to make sure we have access to each site in Holland and then I write down the title of the recipe I want to try later, along with the issue that it came from. Of course, there are some cookbooks that just contain to many fantastic recipes so I brought those with me and left them with Loek when I was in Holland in April: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. 

As for the rest, it is simply not coming with me. As much as it pains me, I simply do not have the room. Instead of taking the assorted measuring spoons and cups I had, crammed into several drawers,I purchased on set a piece of truly fantastic peices. I bought a beautiful flower shaped set of measuring spoons and a set of stackable measuring cups in the shape of Matroyshkas dolls. This way, I can measure my American recipes in cups and tablespoons. Everything else, can be bought there gradually, which will be better since my oven is going to be the size of a microwave, and my kitchen in a much more condensed space. My beloved mixer is going to my mom. I hope to eventually get another one for my Dutch apartment, but Loek is in shock of the price and space is limited. 

Thanks to a few new expat friends, I do know to bring baking powder, soda and karo syrup with me, as these things are hard to find in most Dutch grocers. I am sure that cooking using the metric system is going to be its own special challenge and I pledge to keep you posted about it here on my blog. 

*And, why yes, I did make that cake! 

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How To Decorate Your Apartment From Across The Ocean.

I might have mentioned the fact that when I move to The Netherlands, it will be into a brand new apartment. This is  both really exciting and nerve racking. It will be the first time, for both Loek and I, that we will live in a brand new place and the first time we will live together. Renting an apartment in The Netherlands is not like renting one in Georgia. Here, when I want to move I have a few choices: I can drive around, go to a standard apartment complex either in or out of the city with beige walls and appliances included. Or, I can go to an old house turned into an apartment and maybe get to paint the walls.

In The Netherlands, if you are renting in the public sector, you put yourself on lists. When an apartment becomes available, you basically get a shell of an apartment. It is not uncommon to have to put in new floors and light fixtures in your rented apartment. As well as, bring all the appliances you might need with you. When Loek picks up the keys to our new place, hopefully in a few weeks, we(he) will have to put in new flooring, put up wall paper, install light fixtures, paint, move all his stuff and appliances. Keep in mind, we don't have a car. I'm kind of glad I might get to miss all the fun!

I am a huge fan of decor, so naturally, I have been trying to be involved every step of picking out materials for our new home. What I have learned through this process is- 1. It is difficult to combine households anyway, when doing so via webcam is almost impossible. Things that I love, Loek seems to hate. So there is a lot of compromising 2. Colors look totally different if you don't have the sample in your hands.

So far, what we have agreed upon is a grayish laminate wood floor, and damask white wallpaper for the living room. Our apartment is mainly two rooms, a small bedroom and a catch all room that will have to be, our living room, dining room, kitchen and home office. When you translate it from meters, it comes to about 650 sq feet. The smallest apartment I will have lived in and perhaps the largest Loek will have lived in.

If anyone else is in the same boat, whether you are in the same country as your new live-in fiancee or across the ocean-I would recommend a ton of patience and compromise. For those of you trying to plan abroad- If you need to pick out materials, have your spouse go and pick up the ones they like and mail them to you. Look at lots of design blogs to identify both of your styles. 

I chose the white damask to make the room appear larger, while the pattern will add some texture. We still haven't agreed on what to do about the bedroom. In addition to all the materials we have to buy for our home, Loek and I are planning on purchasing a new closet from Ikea, right away. Eventually, I would love to get a new bed. But for the time being, we will share a futon. Aww, to be young and in love.

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