moving to the Netherlands

I Leave in a Month from Today!

I can hardly believe it, I leave a month from today to go live in Utrecht, The Netherlands. It feels like it took a long time to get to this point, but it also feels like everything is happening so fast. I am sure this month will be a blur. There is so much to do! 

My fiancee was offered a new job this week, which is exciting and thankfully we meet all the IND criteria for him to sponsor me that he is able to take it. If you don't have a 12 month contract, they look at past employment so this is his last month of work at hive ins current company. This is also my last month in the office, my last day is the 23rd. So, three more weeks. On my last day in the office is also the day Loek gets the keys to our apartment , so he has a ton to do to get it ready to live in. 

This month is not all work and no play though, I am having a going away party and a lingerie engagement shower before I leave. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family all gathered together for one big weekend of awesome. This also means that my mom and best friends have a ton of planning to do. Because, I want it to be epic! We have so many people coming in from out of town and I am truly grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. 

As far as prep goes, the last thing for Atti is, I have to send in his papers to the USDA. And, of course, I have to pack, and pack, and pack. Those of you who have been reading for awhile, know that I am an avid planner and occasionally do packing trial runs. I plan on making a video so you all can see just how it is done.

People keep on commenting on how well prepared I am, I don't think you ever can be for a life change so drastic as this. My whole world is going to change. I am incredibly happy with my decision to move to be with my love, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to a moment of panic a few times a day. But really, I can not wait for my adventure to begin.

I also plan on keeping my blog updated everyday until I leave. 

 

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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I Have Been Remiss At My Duties

I have been remiss at my duties dear readers. I haven't been keeping you all as up to date in everything that is going on with my preparations of becoming an expat. I am sincerely sorry for this. Things have just been pretty hectic lately and work has been really stressing me out. You see, last week I changed positions and have been slowly transitioning my clients over to other people in preparation for my departure. It is absolutely necessary, but has really been taking its toll on me, because I allow myself to get too emotionally involved.

But enough excuses, in order to keep you all up to date on just what has been going on with my preparations to move to The Netherlands, I am going to write a post a day this whole week to get you caught up. That's right, I am making myself a post schedule and sticking to it. Here is what you can expect from me this week.

Tuesday- An update on Atti, booking him on my flight and all the prep that goes into taking a cat abroad. 

Wednesday- Buying Euros, and stock piling my visa funds. 

Thursday- An update on budgeting and what has me freaked enough to do some not like me shopping.

Friday- I've had a few tiny freak outs. I think this is probably totally normal. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week! 

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My Gift to Myself on This My 25th Birthday!

Birthday's tend to make people reflect on their lives thus far. I have been very fortunate in my quarter of a century on this planet. I have learned a lot about myself and I continue to do so on almost a daily basis.  While it is true, given that I am moving to a country where I don't speak the language in order to be happy and spend everyday with the person I love, it might appear that I don't give a fuck what people think about what I do with my life. I still do a little bit. Slightly, alright really not all that much.

My birthday gift to myself, besides a kindle, yay kindle with Euro adapter. Is, I am going to listen to myself more. When I was younger, before high school took its toll, as it does to most of us, I was fearless. I would wear whatever made me happy, gold lame pants, hot pink sparkles- I know fashion victim, but I had no fear. It would surprise most of my friends now especially co-workers, that I am actually quite the fashion lover and I believe that what you wear has a direct influence on how you feel. So yes, I dress dumpy and dingy to my current job because being there makes me feel dumpy and dingy. After my few short workdays left, all those clothes are going to a new home. I will never again wear something I don't like because I am too lazy to get done up in the morning, and feel sad about going to work. 

I love how carefree I am in these. I also love my hair that color red. 

With life kind of up in the air career wise when I move to Holland, I vow to trust my instincts and to never again take a job that gives me nightmares in the middle of the night. I am going to work on listening to how I am and making myself happy. Which will in turn strengthen my relationships. I am also not going to buy clothes unless I love how they make me feel just because I am convinced that I am going to freeze in The Netherlands. Which let's face it, this girl from Georgia who is used to at least 97 degrees in the summer, probably will.

What gift will you give yourself this year? Also, just 50 days until I leave the Country! 

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I Am No Longer a car owner- My second to last big thing before I move

I am no longer a car owner. Under normal circumstances, this would be a near impossible thing living in Metro Atlanta as I currently do.  But I am lucky enough to be able to carpool into work with my mom for my remaining work days. So, why you might ask am I so excited to no longer be a car owner? Because this means besides my student loan, I don't anyone a thing in this world. 

Now, instead of my money going towards a car payment, car insurance and gas, everything I make until I leave can go into a savings account. With the exception of a pair of TOMS wrap boots that I have had my eyes on for years. They aren't that expensive, I just never got around to ordering them. If you have never worn TOMS, this is my 7th pair because they are the most comfortable shoes on the planet. Rumor has it, there is a shop in Amsterdam that sells them. But this is a bit off topic. 

When I move to The Netherlands, the Verlo- and I won't have a car. Nor, do we need one. He doesn't drive and while it is shocking to my American friends, I have no intention of ever buying a car again. For one thing, I actually hate driving. For another, the cost of petrol is insane and public transportation is not like it is here, it actually gets you around. Perhaps my mind will change after a few soaked days waiting for the train. But right now, I could not be more excited to not be a car owner. 

(As a complete aside if you are looking for a car in Metro Atlanta, I recommend Auto Loan Finders in Marietta. Full disclosure, I do know the owners, but they really do go out of their way to get you a car you can be proud of. Just see there 300 positive reviews on their website. )

Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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One More Cup of Coffee for the Road- My last Road-trip!

I went to Columbia, South Carolina this weekend to see my cousin Alice for her 24th birthday! Alice and I are exactly one week less than being a year apart. While this caused some rivalry when we were little, as we have grown into adulthood, we have gotten to be super close. Columbia, is about 4 hours away from Atlanta. So, not too long of a drive, but very fitting for my last mini trip in the United States until I move. It is going to be really strange to not just be able to jump in a car and go see my family.

While on the road, my mom and I stocked up on my favorite food, boiled peanuts. For any non-Southerners out there, boiled peanuts are fresh peanuts boiled in an insane amount of salt and water for at least 8 hours. The squishier the peanut the better! I have some serious love!

We then made it to my aunt and uncle's house where my cousin met us for dinner. My aunt and uncle's reminds me a lot of Dutch houses. It is nice and cheery, but there is basically no clutter. Possessions are less important to them then spending quality time with the ones they love. It is just so darn cozy and quaint. 

When my cousin Alice arrived, we went to eat at this place in Columbia called Hunter and Gather. I had the mac and cheese and it was amazing! They brew their own beer there, but their pale ale tasted to much like an IPA for my taste. But, if you are ever in South Carolina, I highly recommend it. 

This morning it was time for presents! My cousin got some really cool stuff, like an art pass to the Columbia Museum of Art and a Gamecocks luggage tag for when she comes to visit me in The Netherlands. I got my present from my Aunt, Uncle and Alice a week early. I got the ulitmate present- Money, because really, what else should you give someone who is packing their entire life into 3 suitcases? 

It was an extremely fun ,albiet short weekend. I will really miss going to my Aunt and Uncles. Road-trips are pretty important to Americans, perhaps I might want to rethink my no driving in The Netherlands stance. 

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Where the Heck is Holland? Is that In Asia? And Other Tales of Geography Woe.

You constantly hear that the United States Education System is lacking. I never really put much thought into this because I feel like I got a pretty decent, broad education. Sure, I am not yet bilingual, but I took a class where I got to wield a blow torch. Perspective people, honestly. It wasn't until I started telling friends and co-workers about my upcoming move to The Netherlands, that I realized- American's have no clue about Geography. 

Of course, it is understandable that people get Holland and The Netherlands confused. Holland is actually two provinces in The Netherlands. North and South Holland. Utrecht is actually in the province of Utrecht. So technically, I am not moving to Holland, even though it has been used synonymously with The Netherlands for so long, I don't think anyone will freak out on you for using either.

I did an experiment today with some of my work friends, I printed out a blank map of Europe and asked people to identify where The Netherlands are. ( I know, it is a marvel that I have friends). The results were, well.... I know it is a small country, but dang. The most common answer was either Sweden or Denmark, kind of close, but no. The Netherlands is actually that tiny country located next to Belgium and Germany. It is not however, in Asia, which I have been asked from time to time. 

People tend to also not know what language they speak in The Netherlands. For the record, its Dutch or Nederlands. Someone also told me that they always wanted to go to Holland because they are a really big skier. For those of you who have been to The Netherlands, I will let you process that for a moment... For those of you who haven't been, The Netherlands is almost entirely flat and the reason for all the canals and dikes is all about Dutch ingenuity and reclaiming landmass from the sea. 

I am very much looking forward to the day that my friends come visit me in my new home. Assuming of course that they can find it! 

What are the weirdest things you have heard about the place you call home? Can you find The Netherlands?

14 Reasons I Can't Wait to Move to The Netherlands

I read a lot of expat blogs. Like a boy scout I like to be prepared. A theme on them this week seems to be about what people miss the most about their home country while being an expat. Since, I am trying really hard to become an optimist, I have decided to focus on tthe things I can’t wait to move to Holland for. Here is my list, in no particular order:

  1. Loek, I am looking forward to living with my verloofde for the first time and you know all that goes into living with your spouse. Plus, I kind of love him and miss him terribly.  

  1. Living in our brand new apartment will be nice, neither Loek nor I have ever lived some place brand new. I can’t wait to decorate!

  1. Never driving. I am not a good driver, I don’t enjoy it and I am very much looking forward to not having a car. Which of course means, I wont have a car payment, car insurance or pay for Petrol. (That’s right, look at me being all European in my terminology.) Of course, if I buy the Vespa of my dreams, I will have to pay for some of this list again.

  1. My European body. No car= walking and bike riding. Also, I plan to eat better and only have Frites once a week. Frites Fridays as they will be known in my house.(Frites are Dutch Fries).

  1. The art and architecture. I have studied Art History most of my life, so I am excited about being so near to the Dutch Masters.

  1. It’s freaking Europe! Europe is amazing because, you just have to hope a train and you can be in an entirely different country, will wonders never cease.

  1. I can’t wait to be cold! I know, my Southern friends will always give me grief for this. I have always been in the wrong place, I can’t stand to be hot. I only like to be outside when the temperature is below 80. I mean come on, you are talking about the girl who went to Russia in February, twice...

  1. A better work /life balance. Thanks to Holland Daze, I can accurately tell you that the Dutch are given at a minimum 20 vacation days a year. Vacation Days, not sick days! On average, The Dutch work 1378 hours annually, American’s 1768. I am very much looking forward to not working too much.

  1. Gezellig which wikapedia says is  “A perfect example of untranslatability is seen in the Dutch language through the word gezellig, which does not have an English equivalent. Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness.”

  1. I have to grow up, my Mom is a whole ocean away.

  1. Learning Dutch, I have always wanted to be bi-lingual. I think total emersion is the best way to go.

  1. I'm going in business for myself. Time to make my own hours and play by my rules.

   13. The flowers, oh the beautiful flowers.

   

    14. All the new things I will get to try, and everything new there is to discover.


I leave in 68 days, I can’t wait for this adventure to begin.

26 Things Before I'm 26

I saw this idea on a blog I just started reading, The Lighthouse Keeper,  and I thought, hmm I should make a list like that. I love lists! The particular blog was 25 things before turning 25, but since I turn 25 in less than a month, I decided to get a head start. So without further ado, here you are:

In no particular order:

1. Move to Utrecht.

2. Be able to communicate in Dutch.

3. Get married, I'm engaged so this isn't a huge jump.

4. Take up ballet again.

5. Find a core group of friends in my new country.

6. Develop a sense of personal style and dress accordingly.

7. Learn to bake and cook in my Nederlands kitchen.

8. Start my tour guide business.

9. Learn to sew.

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

11. Write letters to my friends back home.

12. Get back to the weight that feels best on my frame.

13. Read 100 new books, including some classics.

14. Start making metal jewelry again.

15. Book my honeymoon, we probably wont go right after the wedding.

16. Learn how to share, I was practically an only child.

17. Become an expert bike rider.

18. Attend Amsterdam Fashion Week.

19. Knit a sweater.

20. Learn the art of light layers.

21. Eat better, I have a horrible diet.

22. Start bringing in money again.

23. Continue adding to the retirement fund.

24. Laugh more.

25. Get over my fear of boats.

26. Stick to my plans.

What do you want to accomplish before your next birthday?

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