Travel like life has so many unknowns. Flights get delayed, trains are missed, and reservations get lost. You get laid off, lose a loved one, and go through financial stress. It can be a lot. If you find the little pockets of positivity in those moments, well that is where the magic in the journey is. The delayed flight allowed you to see an amazing sunset on your coastal drive to your Airbnb in Croatia. Missing the train led to renting a car that allowed you to experience parts of Belgium and Luxembourg you otherwise would have missed. Losing a loved one helped heal a relationship that was broken. Financial stress taught you to budget better, and losing that reservation allowed you to end up discovering a hidden gem. It’s easy to get frustrated at the bumps in the road. I am very guilty of it, but every time I sit to write this blog I remember all of the magical moments of the journey.
This past August marked five years of living in The Netherlands. I am trying to wrap my head around that. What started as an adventure for one year has turned into what our lives are now. When I think back to that first year, to the day we landed and how I felt like a freshman on the first day of high school. Full of false confidence, and hope. I was eager to make new friends and take on anything that came our way. I had no clue what the future held, but it was exciting.
The question we get the most is Are y’all ever moving back? The short answer is No. The long answer is… well, I guess I need to go back a bit.
Every year we have the same conversation, stay or go. Every year that we have been here something has happened that made us question our decision or rather our future as “Dutchies in training.” Every year we have patiently prayed and set dates that if things didn’t work out by X then we were meant to go back. Somehow every year it worked out. Exactly how it was supposed to.
In year one, we lost my mom. Z started a new school which led to us disconnecting from the little expat community we had formed. When everyone is at different schools and in different parts of the city things change. All three of us felt incredibly lonely. We really thought we would leave at the end of 2019. Then something happened, we just settled in. Z made great friends at his new school. Rob’s career was thriving. I was making friends and we were traveling more than ever. Germany, London, Poland, Italy, Prague, Copenhagen, Scotland, Croatia and Paris. We were just getting started.
Year two, well it was 2020. Need I say more? We did get to travel some though. South of France and Belgium.
Year three Our lease was up on the place we had called home. We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know how tough it would be to find a new place in our neighborhood. Or anywhere in Utrecht for that matter. The housing market wasn’t great and the prices were rising. Our lease was up in August 2021. So of course I started looking in January, because type A and all. We already decided that if we couldn’t find something by June we would have to start making arrangements to go back. In March a new house became available. The move-in date was April 1. It was perfect in every way. We also had a wedding in Charleston, SC at the end of March and had to get out of our lease early. We had two weeks to pack our stuff, fly to the US, and Hopefully break our lease IF our offer was accepted. Somehow the stars aligned. I viewed the house, we made the offer, and it was accepted the next day. Everything else seemed to work out. Not without bumps of course, but it worked out nonetheless. We also traveled to Mallorca and London.
In year four we went in feeling pretty confident and a little invincible. Z was thriving in school. Rob had been at his company for 5 years, which meant a three-month sabbatical starting June 1st. I started school to get my Yoga certification. We had finally hit our stride. We traveled a lot and it was all of our dream trips. Portugal in the spring, South Carolina for Rob’s sister’s wedding, Ireland in the summer, and I did 10 days in Italy with my cousin. Then Rob’s career changed unexpectedly. We had savings so we would be okay for a while, but again we set a date of January 1st, 2022. If there was not something concrete we would have to move back. By the grace of God and lots of meditation and manifesting Something came about at the beginning of December. To top it off we had wonderful friends move to Amsterdam from Charleston and having them here has been truly a blessing.
Here we are in our fifth year. While we aren’t traveling quite as much as we were, we did get to explore Berlin. We have had many local adventures with our friends, Natalie, Jay, and Emma. We know no matter what comes our way, we can handle it. Z is thriving in school. I am certified and hope to start teaching Yoga soon. I also became a Travel Advisor. Rob is Rob, he always has many pots on the stove and never ceases to surprise me. We have a support system, We are at home here.
So the long answer, We sure hope not!! In fact, we are studying and hope to take our Dutch Integration test soon to become permanent residents of The Netherlands. The Journey to get to where we are now has not been smooth but we have learned so much about ourselves and each other. The journey has been so worth it.
Stay tuned for more adventures of Rob, Z, and I…
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.- Martin Buber