Although it has been an unreasonably long time since I posted anything, I think I have a pretty decent excuse. After defending my PhD at the end of August, my husband Kevin and I (and our dog, Farley) packed up and moved to the Netherlands. To say the last few months have been stressful would be an incredible understatement. In addition to preparing for a defence and finishing my thesis, I had to sell everything possible, complete a ton of paperwork (moving a dog is fun), and vacuum seal piles of clothes in a desperate attempt to meet luggage requirements.
The months leading up the move were challenging, but they were also really special. My family threw a celebration for my defence, and Kevin and I had countless “see you later” coffees and dinners with friends, family, and co-workers. To cap it all off, my best friends threw us an incredible going away party complete with Dutch banners, cake from a Dutch bakery, and – the pièce de résistance – a candy charcuterie board. The outpouring of love and support that we received – and continue to receive – was so overwhelming that I could cry just thinking about it.
So, why did we move? Well, first of all, Kevin and I have long talked about living in another country to gain new experiences and perspectives. We really love our home city, but we also love travelling and thought that it could be rewarding to actually stay in a new place for an extended period of time. Secondly, I had an immediate connection to and affinity for the Netherlands when I visited Amsterdam back in 2013. Ever since that trip, I knew that the country would be a good fit for our family. Finally, an opportunity came up for me to gain experience as a postdoc in a field I love at a university that has a spectacular reputation. As hard as it was to leave the familiar, the move was really a no brainer.
At the time of writing, we have been here in our new home in Bennekom for three weeks. The first couple days were a little challenging, as we had to adjust to life in an apartment. For example, it was new to have to walk down the stairs and up the street to a field in order for Farley to “do her thing” instead of just letting her out the back door of the house. Although English is spoken very widely in the Netherlands, it was also a surprise to enter a grocery store and see that every sign and package was in Dutch. I stood in the jam isle for about 5 minutes trying to decipher which of the red jars was strawberry (it was aardbeienjam).
Despite the few initial shocks, I have to say that we have all settled in well. Although it is – of course – different from Edmonton, I have tried to find places that feel like home so that I can continue my routines and feel more comfortable. Little things like finding a new café – where I am writing this post – have helped when I have felt sad that I couldn’t have a coffee with friend or play with my nieces and nephews. Finding a great hazelnut almond latte (a new favourite) has also helped ease the pain when I saw that my favourite café back home was bringing back its insanely delicious pumpkin spice latte. If you’re reading from Edmonton, go to Transcend and get one and think of me. Just don’t send me a picture of it because that will be too soul crushing to bear.
Life in the Netherlands is still so new, and only time will tell what changes my little family will experience here. Given my very small kitchen and lack of baking supplies, I expect to be baking a lot less and, as a result, posting a lot less muffins, cakes, etc. However, Kevin and I hope to travel as much as time and money will allow during our time here and I will definitely be documenting the journey.
If you’re reading this from home, please know I miss you, and appreciate you reading. I hope this blog will help us stay connected despite the distance.