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Utrecht

Kaitlin's Guide to March in Utrecht

Isn't it always the case that you find out about a great event the day it is happening? Or, you browse a ton of sites looking for what is interesting to you, but you are 5 pages deep and everything has to do with techno music or mommy and me? Sorry, just tried to think of things I have no interest in. I mean this happens to you too, right? Which is why I have decided to put together a guide for people like me on what to do in the Netherlands each month. 

Let's start with Utrecht, because well this is where I live.

Utrecht

  • Cafe Theater Festival: March 1st-3rd, Various Locations. FREE. Even if you don't speak Dutch, this free festival which happens in cafes throughout the city will be entertaining, All you have to do is look at the schedule and go to the performances of your choice. Last year, Loek and I stumbled in on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Unfortunately, I'm home sick today and have to work all weekend. 
  • Big Spring Sale: March 3rd, 13:00 to 17:00, Utrecht Central Library Branch. This sale of movies, cds, and books is a great place to get some materials for practicing your dutch.
  • Stitch 'n BitchEvery Tuesday, 19:30, Winkel Van Sinkel. FREE. Bring your knitting needles and engage in some gossip every Tuesday.
  • Delivered Ideals- Peace of Utrecht: March 11th, 20:00, Academy Building University of Utrecht. FREE. I am sure I mentioned before that this year marks the 300th anniversary of Treaty of Utrecht. As such the University is putting on a series of lectures about peace in our times. Lectures are in English.
  • Rock-a-oke: March 16, 21:30, Stairway to Heaven. FREE. Have you ever sung karaoke with a live band? I have once and it reaffirmed everyone's belief that I should never, ever be allowed to sing in public. But it was really fun! You can live like a rock star for just one night.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: March 25th, 20:00, Beatrix Theater, 30 Euros. I have a thing for Rock Operas, I have no idea what language this will be in and I'm particularly broke this month. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go!

Did I miss something awesome? Let me know! Tomorrow, we will check out what is happening in the rest of the Netherlands. 

 

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The Netherlands is the Place to be in 2013- Seriously, You Need to Come NOW!

With all the respect that is due to Lonely Planet, and that is a lot of respect because I love Lonely Planet, they were wrong when they named Amsterdam their number 2 city to visit in 2013. In their defense, how were they to know that Queen Beatrix would step down and we would have an inauguration this year? With this major event and so many others, the Netherlands is really the place to be this year.

What's happening in Amsterdam: 

  • 400 year anniversary of Amsterdam's famed canal ring. Did you know that wandering around the beautiful canals of Amsterdam are the number one visitor activity in the city? There are so many beautiful places to find along the canal, or you can take a canal cruise. Personally, I think the traditional canal cruises are a bit boring. Check out the other options like canal hopper or tapas cruise. 

 

  • All about Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum will move back to its location at the Museumplein on April 25, 2013, just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the museum.2013 also marks what would have been the artist's 150th birthday, if you know he hadn't shot himself and humans lived to that age. 

 

  • The one I'm most excited about. The Rijksmuseum is opening up the parts that have been closed for renovation for the last 10 years will finally be open on April 13th. The Rijksmuseum is in my top 5 of best museums in the world. The art nerd in me can.not.wait.

 

  • The Artis Royal Zoo will celebrate its 125th year. I have never actually been, but I hear some really good things. 

 

  • Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra also celebrates its 125 year. This is considered to be one of the best orchestras in the world, so you should really check out a show.

 

  • Last but certainly not least, April 30th, the Netherlands will have its first king since 1890. That is a long proud tradition of female monarch's. As someone who was born in a land without royalty, I am excited to take part in a small part of pomp and circumstance. 

Utrecht: 

  • 2013 marks the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, for you non-history buffs out there, he treaties between Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic, helped end the War of Spanish Succession. The city is gearing up for some great celebrations. 

This is only a few of the amazing things going on in the Netherlands this year. Be sure to check back on the first of every month where I will tell you some of the great things going on here in my new home country each month.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

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Thoughts on Renewing My Visa

Saturday was an exciting day here, I unexpectedly received the paperwork to renew my residence permit. I know, it doesn't seem like enough time has passed for me to be thinking about renewal! I'll  be sending in the paperwork tomorrow, you need to have a black pen to fill out part of it, and even though I just had 60 black pens sent to my mom's house from Amazon so that she can bring me a ton of school supplies when she comes in August, we didn't have a single back pen in the house! So I had to go buy one today. The paperwork itself is so far considerably less than last time. 

For me, the decision to renew my visa, which should be for 5 years this time because I am on a partnership visa,was not something that required any thought on my part. I am happy with my partner, in the process of inburgering, starting an undergrad program in September, and I have great friends here. Sure, life is a lot different than what I imagined it would be when I was planning to move here, but I am not sure that I would change it back to my original plans, even if I could. It was tough there for awhile, trying to figure out where I fit in here after getting rejection after rejection on the career front, but I look back at that time, which coincidentally coincided with the darkest, coldest months of the year, and I never once thought about packing up and going back to Georgia. I think this had a lot to do with my attitude that this is my life, this is not temporary, so I better make it work! 

Not everyone renews though, I've heard that the first year in a new place is the hardest. Hopefully that is the case, this year was pretty tough. I would be really interested to see some data on how many expats return home during the first year, or decide not to renew. After all, according to several polls, The Netherlands is the least friendly place for expats. There is no shame in not making it. This life definitely is not for everyone. However, If you are currently a struggling expat, or you are about to become an expat, I have two pieces of advice. 

1. You have to really, really want to make it work. Nothing is going to turn out the way you thought, and you are going to have to be prepared to roll with the punches. 

2. Don't give yourself a timeline. If you say you are going to give it a year, your entire experience will be a countdown until the year is up. Instead, treat it as this is your life for the foreseeable future. If you are really unhappy you can always go back home. But as a very wise man on TV is known to say, "Make it work!"

Thanks for sticking out the rough months with me my dear readers! Your support means the world to me! 

 

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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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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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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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This Week In Instagram Vol.6

Welcome to the first This Week in Instagram of June! I traveled a lot this week. I might as well get used to it, come September, I'll be going to Amsterdam for school at least four days a week! I continued one tutoring job and started another. I also attended a Trial Study Day for my Tourism Program and it got me even more pumped to be back in school! Here is how my week looked in pictures! 

Light is so different here than in Georgia! This is the beginnings of a sunset, at 10:22pm! Don't worry, it starts coming up again around 6am!

There is a street in Utrecht where the lamp posts all have sayings or ads. This is my favorite, it says "Evening Time is Reading Time". I wholeheartedly agree. 

One of the families I tutor live in the most beautiful countryside. I get to see all kinds of animals I miss by living in the burb's. This week, I was greeted by close encounters of the swan kind. 

Just a little but closer.

Then I came upon these cuties. 

Last week, I took a photo on some unknown flower. I found out that these are actually poppies! They are everywhere this week!

Some more poppies!

Next week, I finally have my orientation at my Inburgering School. Look for that post Monday afternoon!

What did your week look like? I would love to hear! 

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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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The Vacation's Over, Real Life Begins, And Why I Am So Glad!

I've been extremely lucky to have an unplanned 7 month adjustment period to my new life in Europe. I realize this, of course I do. I've gotten to explore a little bit of my new corner of the world, spend time cultivating new friendships, read books I've wanted to read, finally realize what I want to do with my life and put a plan into action, and watch A LOT of television. 

It hasn't all been fun and games, I have had to make adjustments, search for a job, get really nasty rejection letters that left my  self esteem in crumbles. I've had to figure out how to apply for inburgering, school and financial aid. I've had to rely really heavily on my partner, which comes with its own self-inflicted heavy guilt.  

But, if I am really honest, I have had it pretty easy so far. In fact, I've been a little bored! Especially since I turned in my applications to start inburgering and to go back to college. I feel like I have been very inpatient and wishing my time away, just so I could have something the.fuck.to.do, and my real life here in The Netherlands could begin. 

You see, I have always been a hard worker. In University in The States, I juggled (not well sometimes) a full class load, 50 hour work weeks, two clubs, and friendships.In my career, I consistently, had one of the largest account loads and still took the time to train new employees, and develop training guides just for my clients. I thrive on having full days. I need structure, and to feel useful. I just do. Otherwise, I will allow myself to sleep my life away. I can be incredibly, appallingly lazy, when I don't have things that I have to do and this is when I can become depressed.

I was just at this point of going stir crazy, and being depressed because I haven't made a single penny in months, that I decided to really throw myself head first into finding a part-time job. I have had four interviews in the last week, with families to come and work with their kids. I have been offered all of the positions, but some I can not take because they would interfere with my inburgering and later school schedule. I have also been contracted to do some freelance writing start this week. On Tuesday, I will find out when my inburgering classes will begin. I'm about to be busy, which is great preparation for September when I will be adding my HBO classes, and I will be . I couldn't be happier. 

To those of you expats who are struggling to find your place, just give it time. Everything will work out in the end, even though  life is looking much different,( in a better way) than I thought before I moved. If you are thinking of becoming an expat, just know that it can be great, but don't plan your life to much before you move, because it will be different than you though!

If neither of the above apply to you, just know that nothing great ever comes unless you are willing to work for it. 

 

 

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