Expativersary: The Last Week Before The Jump

by farrah on October 21, 2013 · 15 comments

I’m going to warn you right now: This entire week I am going to be nostalgic. On my mind of late is where we were the last week before we left a year ago and what we were doing. Basically- we were getting ready to leave the US and move overseas. This would be the first time we ever moved with kids- and (obviously) the first time we ever moved overseas. Another first was that I had lived in the same house for more than three years and I was overwhelmed with the prospect of leaving it at every turn. Wow. A year ago was crazy, the more I think about it.

This particular week things were full-blown nuts. October 22nd, 2012 I wrote Six Days To Go and you can practically hear the strain in my voice. I don’t miss feeling like that. But what I DO wish is that I could go back to her and say ‘Hey lady. You know what? It’s all going to be ok. In fact, it’s going to be better than ok and you’re going to absolutely LOVE it.’

I wouldn’t have believed myself though. I think I would have told myself to take a flying leap and leave me alone because I had just said goodbye to my dogs, my house was in shambles, all of our stuff was gone and we were on the brink of moving into a hotel for five days. In so many ways my life has gone just like this- I’m on the verge of some sort of catastrophe (in my mind) and I can’t wait to get to the other side. Once there I can’t believe how good I’ve got it. How just getting there, and over than hump made all the difference.

Last night on Facebook I posted something about how we were strategizing for Christmas Markets (a really, very, huge-big deal over here) and was given many great recommendations. I tried to think why we missed them all last year but basically I think that we were still a wee bit ‘green’ as far as expats go and trying to catch our collective breath. The idea of jumping in the car and driving to another country ‘just to go’ or hop on a train was still such a foreign thought. Literally and figuratively. By December we were still trying to find those ‘sea legs’ (maybe I should call them bicycle legs over here?) and still a little nervous with our surroundings. We didn’t know how things worked just yet.

I guess my point in all of this rambling is to say – SEE?! Trust yourself. You don’t know how far you can go until you try. If you’ve read this blog at all you probably have figured out that a) We adore the Netherlands and want to stay longer b) School is awesome and we love it and c) We travel all over the place. Three big things that I wasn’t sure how we’d manage- but we do. We can apply this situation everywhere in life. Taking chances, trusting our gut, being courageous and giving things a go. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Oh my how life has changed.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses though. Friends have shown their ‘true colors’ and you learn real quick who your real friends are once you take on such an experience. There are those that will support you, be happy and be a shoulder. On the flip side there are those with an ugly jealousy streak that just don’t want to hear about it and drop out of your life. There’s time to mourn the end of those relationships- but life is all about moving on. And truth be told the number of new friends- and true friends at that, has really been an emotionally welcome experience.

I’ll be cruising down memory lane this week linking back to posts I wrote during this process. I hope you’ll stick with me.

Have you ever changed your life (in any capacity) terrified before but thrilled with the outcome? Tell me!


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle October 21, 2013 at 8:54 am

Moving to the Netherlands was both harder and more rewarding than I could have imagined. I had moved from New England to Austin, Texas less than a year before. Moving here meant saying goodbye to my job at a company where I had spent 7 years, and where I LOVED working, leaving the city where I had always wanted to live and where I had just started to feel settled, and coming somewhere where even the simplest tasks – like grocery shopping – seemed, well, foreign!

Four and a half years – and countless difficult moments – later, I am two months away from delivering our first baby. I speak, read, and write Dutch (something I NEVER thought I’d do!). I find the prospect of living here to be quite positive, and am quite happy and comfortable here!

Sure, I miss my family and friends back in the US. But I feel, like you, that this experience has grown and changed me like nothing I have ever experienced or done and that I am so much more prepared for anything else I could ever face in life. And yeah, I’ve also made some great friends here too. 🙂


2 farrah October 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

Congrats Michelle!! Wow- what a change. And to have your first child here, so exciting! I’m glad it has all been working out for you- and you are so right, this really is a rewarding experience all the way around.
I envy that your child(ren) will be born here, are they eligible for dual citizenship then?


3 Gayla October 21, 2013 at 9:41 am

I so get this! That last week for me was just over five years ago and I didn’t want to leave my job. Crazy, huh? I’m so glad I did and I really want this new home to be a permanent one. I understand, too, about the friend issue. It makes things a touch bittersweet.

I love being able to travel so much more and a bit slower than we did when we only had two weeks per year to do so. Life is so full and I’m not regretting the jump…at least not at this moment 🙂

It would be great to meet up and do the Christmas markets together, but not sure of our plans for the coming months just yet…

Congrats on your 1 year expativersary!!


4 farrah October 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

Gayla, I love the fact that you’re here and I’ve met you too. I consider you a friend and really hope we can get together this season!

No regrets here either- I think making it through the first year was in my mind at least- going to be the hardest. I am not lost in thought wondering if it will really be the last year that’s the most difficult, knowing that we are going to leave.


5 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey October 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The tone between this and the 6 days one is HUGE! I am looking forward to taking the stroll with you this week – given I have yet to go back and read your older posts. It’ll be like a guided tour of your first year – I am sure I’ll learn so much. xx


6 farrah October 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I’ll try not to be too annoying 🙂
And I’ll include what’s up with the pups. I’ve kept tabs on them, and (spoiler!) it’s good stuff!


7 Jen October 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I was so young when I went to NL, it was just me and it was all such a big adventure. I lost friends but I made so many more. When we left NL for Chicago we were so sure it wouldn’t end up happening that we didn’t let ourselves get excited. The first month there was so much harder than the first month in NL, strangely it felt so much more foreign to me than NL did. Again, we lost most of our friends, but we made new ones.

Five months into our move to Texas, I’m still in the hating it phase. This is the first move that I think will be short term, this is just not our place. We’ll see how the next year goes (until we get citizenship) but I see a move back to Europe in our future.


8 farrah October 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I can only imagine how different Texas would be, truly a country in itself. Not to mention the heat! The heat! Goodness. I couldn’t do it for that alone.
You think you’ll come back to the NL? Maybe I’ll pass you in the airport 🙂


9 Jen October 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

No, not back to NL, maybe UK or BE.

It’s been the people that have made it hard. At least in Chicago people were mean to your face and didn’t hide it behind a fake smile, I’ve never met such rude people in my life as I’ve come across here and I lived in Amsterdam for 8 years!


10 Leighann October 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

What a wonderful experience you’ve had! And you’re right, true friends stick beside you and support you, no matter what.


11 Ace October 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

You capture everything here and in Six Days to Go perfectly. I cried leaving our apartment for the last time – I didn’t expect to, but as soon as Little Man wanted to say goodbye to all the rooms I started having a hard time holding back. And the feeling of just waiting to get over the hump, that anxiety is painful while you’re experiencing it – but what a difference a year makes! And to think about how much the boys have grown (in so many ways) since you’ve arrived here. Can’t wait to see what the rest of your expativersary posts. =)


12 Ann October 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Now that I’m thinking about it – I almost feel cheated out of this experience. About 6 weeks before our move date I wrote in a journal I had dubbed my “experience Germany to the fullest” journal. I wrote about all the things I wanted to do with an emphasis on lots of travel, learning the language, and getting out of the apartment. Then, about a month before we moved, I found out I was pregnant.

Immediately my heart shifted. I never wrote in that journal again, but was regularly updating my brand new pregnancy journal. I was making quick trips to Babies R Us to buy things I didn’t think I’d be able to get here before our container shipped – but all the while worried that I might be jinxing the pregnancy.

I always wanted to live abroad and have kids, but didn’t want to actually have the kids while abroad (meaning birth them abroad) and I felt that I wouldn’t have been able to move once we had kids because of all that outside pressure. Now, knowing our next move will require moving the kids too, I can only imagine the stress you were feeling. Looking back it was a really great thing, but in the moment, you just never know.


13 Greta October 22, 2013 at 2:42 am

I can’t believe it’s been a year already!


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