As we have reached the first anniversary of our move to The Netherlands, I thought it was appropriate to take a minute to reflect on the past year and look toward the coming one.
This year began with a whirlwind of emotions-sadness to leave the place that we have called home for so long and the people that we care about, anxiety over leaving some of our things (mainly our house) behind and trying to begin the process of getting things arranged and settled here and begin at a new school, frustration over not understanding the language or knowing where or how to find things (or work our appliances!), excitement over being in a new place and getting to explore areas around Europe, utter chaos of trying to pick furnishings and put them all together and get the house set up so that we could function even without our shipment boxes with all of our things, and fear of getting lost or making a mistake in our new surroundings. All in all, it was a stressful time. At that exact moment in time one year ago, I really couldn’t have told you how this would all work out.
A few weeks into the journey, we started school and began to meet some people. It was a bit lonely in the beginning as we tried to fit in among people who were already friends and comfortable in the surroundings. For me, I felt isolated at the house a lot in the beginning. I was a little scared to venture out and didn’t have a lot of people to venture out with. There was still a lot of arranging and paperwork that needed to be done to register here, so we never quite felt settled. In addition, we were dealing with some difficulties with the kids. Our oldest seemed to just be numb and was showing little emotion and our youngest was exploding with anger and frustration and having a meltdown everywhere we went. We were really wondering what we had done to our kids and feeling pretty down about it.
Finally, around month 2, our belongings arrived and we could actually arrange the house to feel more like a permanent home. In addition, I was getting more involved at the school and with other parents. I began my tennis lessons, joined a Bunco group and a book club and was doing some social activities. The kids seemed to be settling in a little and some of the previous issues were beginning to resolve themselves. Still, I would look at some of the people that I met that had already been here a year or more and see how comfortable they seemed navigating around and going places and how happy their kids seemed to be, and I felt like we would never get there.
By about month 4, I finally got my car which made getting to some places and tackling some tasks a lot easier. We had been able to do some nice traveling and we all continued to make friends, so it seemed like things were going pretty well. I was even feeling a bit more comfortable navigating around.
In month 5, we went back to the states for a brief visit. After that, we had a resurgence in the emotional issues with our kids. In addition, we came back to winter and, in The Netherlands, that means short days and very little sun. Things definitely felt a little down, but we kept plugging along.
As we rounded the corner into month 7, we were able to head to sunny Portugal which was a much-needed break. Now the days were longer and things were beginning to bloom. It definitely put us in a better frame of mind.
By month 8 and 9, we were out and about a lot more. We were doing a lot of socializing, and I felt pretty good about things. Our youngest child seemed to be doing well and was enjoying things. Our oldest still seemed to struggle with feeling down, though a big portion of that was the amount of homework being assigned and a lack of free time.
Finally, at month 10, I had to do some longer distance driving and navigating around some other places. Suddenly, I realized that I had made it to where all those friends who had already been here a year were at when I thought I would never get there. I was fairly comfortable going places, I knew my way around our city and where to find things, I had some knowledge of the language and wasn’t as worried about interacting with locals or making a mistake. I felt like I had a strong social group and was going to be fine. Then, we had a slight setback when I found out that almost every single member of the said social group was moving. I really began to worry about how I would handle the upcoming year and some of the old panic and loneliness began to creep back in.
Now, as we hit the one year mark, am I saying things are not good? No-for the most part we really like the area we live in, we enjoy the activities and vacation spots that we have available to us and we look forward to meeting new people this year. So am I saying everything is great? No-there are still times that I feel a little uncomfortable and out of place, there are still emotional struggles with the children, and there are still moments of doubt and uncertainty about the future. I guess it’s just like many things in life; we just have to take it one step at a time, keep positive and enjoy ourselves as much as we can. At one year, I am confident that we can handle things and that there is still much to look forward to.
So, as year 2 begins, what do we hope to accomplish this year?
- Learn more Dutch
- Visit more places (we’ve got some really great vacations and day trips on the horizon that we are really looking forward to).
- Take some biking excursions and/or work up a biking group with some friends.
- Take a small ladies trip or do some other exploring locally with friends.
Happy 1 Year Anniversary to us (and to this page) and Here’s to Year 2!!