Although I’ve done a lot of big trips throughout the past few years, especially when I was studying abroad in France and traveled to a dozen different countries, I’ve done a lot of the same thing in all of them. By that I mean, they were pretty much all big cities–Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Prague, Amsterdam, Rome, Lisbon, etc. and there is a kind of basic plan most people follow when they get to one of these big cities: Get a map, get a drink and then Choose Your Own Adventure–visit the famous museums, parks, monuments, mountains; drink the famous coffee, beer, liquor; taste the famous pastry, cheese, meat. I’ve gone on a lot of walking tours and I’ve seen a WHOLE LOT of cathedrals. My friends and I were study abroad students; we were broke so we ate street food and walked everywhere and booked RyanAir flights and stayed in hostels and saw Europe on a shoestring and loved every second of it. We were always squeezing trips into long weekends or short school breaks, so we never had enough time to *really* dig much deeper than the quintessential city offerings.
Hi friends! It’s been a while, so I’ll just fill you in on some of the things I’ve been up to lately.
My life closed twice before its close–
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
– Emily Dickinson
Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct the course along the way.
– Tim Ferriss
One of my favorite things about traveling and especially about actually living abroad, is that I get to meet a lot of like-minded people. People that want to see the world and don’t allow a laundry list of reasons to stop them. People that are adventurous or curious or, in some people’s opinions, crazy enough to leave everything they know and love to see what else is out there- to embrace foreign lands, languages, and lifestyles. It’s not for everyone, I get that. I’ve lost count of the number of people that have told me, “I would looooove to do what you’re doing but insert other priorities here.” Family, relationships, jobs, money, fear, etc. All completely understandable, relatable, and valid. All things that will never ever ever get easier to walk away from, even temporarily. Every moment, we spin our life’s web into a more intricate design. The conditions will never be perfect, and in fact, will only grow more complex.
Yesterday, I went to my first Girls Gone International brunch meet-up in Amsterdam, and it was incredible to meet so many women in simultaneously similar and completely different positions as me. We’re all living in Amsterdam, we’re all foreigners here, but we all have such different reasons for it. Hearing the stories of how everyone ended up here and what they’re doing now and what they want to do is so freaking inspiring and eye-opening and exciting. (Like the 29-year-old woman from Croatia I talked to who also spent several years working on Wall Street or the Portland, Oregon native 20-something who decided she wanted to live in Europe, so she started her own business.) Creating a (long-term) life abroad feels so much more attainable and enticing to me all the time…… but I’m not really focusing on all that right now, not yet.
Right now I’m just focused on doing the damn thing, and correcting my course along the way.
So much happens in the span of 7 days. We have so much information zooming towards us from all angles, at all hours, it can be difficult to find the time or head space to reflect on what we’ve just done, or even what we’re currently doing. But in this crazy age of Instagram, I find myself taking tons of photos every week that can document how I spend my days; what I do, what I notice, where I wander. I’m hoping, while also giving a little window into my life abroad, Wonder & Wander will help me appreciate the past week in lieu of just hurdling into the next one. Because as we know, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”
Autumn is upon us here in Holland, meaning it is often rainy and windy and cool. But this past weekend was really nice, so I went running a few times on this pretty trail near my house. I don’t run all that often because I seem to have perpetual shin splints (so annoying, so painful) but when I do, I always feel refreshed and clear-headed… especially when the route is this lush! Don’t these shades of green look like mid-summer?
I got my first care packages in Amsterdam! The first was from my dear friend Michelle and had the cutest little stuff in it from her recent trip to Georgia. She even made hand-sewn tea bags for the loose tea because she wasn’t sure if I had a tea strainer. Such a gem of a person. <333
The second was from my mom and had a bunch of cool souvenirs from Portland, a few books, 4 bottles of glucose tablets, and a whole lot of movie-theater butter popcorn (!!!!!!!!!!!) The essentials. Thanks, mom.
I’ve only been here for a month (I can’t believe it’s already been a month, though, eeeek) and I’ve already met a lot of great people. And to be honest, I haven’t really even tried to meet people much yet. This month has been a lot of just ‘figuring stuff out’ and trying to navigate and taking a Dutch course and adjusting to everything. Most of my friends here are also au pairs from all over the world, which is cool because we’re all kind of in the same boat. I’d like to go to some Meet Ups, like language exchanges and book clubs, so I think I’ll dive into more of that once my language course is over!
This past Sunday was a gorgeous day, so instead of the 20/30 minute bike ride or the 1o/15 minute tram, I decided to take an hour-long walk to the center of the city to meet a friend. Walking is still, and probably always will be, my favorite mode of transportation. It was really nice just listening to music and sporadically stopping to take pictures, and I noticed so many things I don’t see when I’m quickly pedaling by. I was 20 minutes late meeting my friend (Sorry, Kate!) but…. it was pretty cool 😉 Then Kate and I continued to stroll around for the rest of the afternoon, popping into random shops, getting coffees and pancakes, and ended the day by people-watching with a pint of beer at an outdoor café. Pretty ideal.
Sometimes I just stumble across a quote that really stays with me, or seems really relevant at the moment. This one has been spinning in my mind all week:
And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. – John Steinbeck
(Ok, technically I didn’t take this last picture this week. I took it a month ago in Iceland. But look how moon-like Iceland is! I love it.)