Culture Shock

It is hard to believe that two weeks ago, we were leaving Africa. Life has changed so drastically and quickly that we’re just trying to keep our heads above water as we prepare to move to England tomorrow morning! Joost has been busy with meetings and readings for his new job in England; I have been busy seeing friends, eating a lot of cheese, doing some exploring and making endless to-do lists. I think that I have missed Africa more than Joost has, due in part to the fact that I have more time to miss it and also the fact that coming to the Netherlands isn’t quite the same as going home. 

Despite all of the time we’ve spent preparing for our move (there’s nothing like a power shopping trip to Ikea to get your blood pressure up), we’ve still been trying to enjoy nearly everything the Netherlands has to offer–prostitutes and pot excluded.

We’ve seen friends. We hosted a dinner party with some of Joost’s friends from home, spent time with his friends from his math faculty and saw some of my nearest and dearest friends. We were extremely lucky in that a few friends that we made in Australia happened to be in Holland (<–that is so much easier to type than the Netherlands) during our time here. My friend Thomas, from Germany, and my friend Dee, from Malaysia, were in Holland visiting another Dutch friend. We had a couple of Australia reunions, which were such a blessing. As much as I love seeing new places and meeting new people, it’s nice to be with your people, you know? It was so nice to have people who knew me and who got me, even in this somewhat bizarre, tiny country. We hung out with them on our first day back in Europe, ate at an all-you-can-eat taco restaurant and spent some time exploring Delft.

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We ate a lot. Stroopwafels, cheese, chocolate sprinkles… all of the Dutch delicacies. We had amazing all-you-can-eat sushi, tacos, Turkish food, pasta, falafel, pancakes, QUINOA (#swoon), tapas and an embarrassing amount of bread. Oh, and about 328462 lattes. Our gastrointestinal systems have had an equally jarring transition back into civilization.

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We went into Amsterdam. Our intentions were educational and culturally enlightened–a trip to the Anne Frank museum. However, once we arrived in the rainy, gloomy city, we decided that the last thing we needed was a sad museum, so instead we wandered and did some shopping. Amsterdam was as classy as ever!

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We ran some miles. This morning, we ran the Rotterdam 10k with 10000 other people. The course was pretty boring and way too crowded. Dutch cobblestone streets are not meant to accommodate even close to that many people, so there was a lot of elbowing and claustrophobia. Joost PRed and I came within 34 seconds of doing the same–all of our training at altitude paid off!

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We went to the Keukenhof. When you see pictures of the beautiful Dutch tulip fields, they’re probably taken at the Keukenhof. Unfortunately for us, it isn’t quite tulip season yet, so the fields were just plots of mud. However, they had big greenhouses filled with exquisite displays of flowers. It was Dutch folklore day, which also meant we got to witness traditional Dutch dancing, see wooden shoe carvers and climb a windmill. Joost wanted to make sure that I was fully inundated by Dutch culture. His parents accompanied us and it was nice to spend some time with them!

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We are feeling a bit overwhelmed but excited for our big move tomorrow! We’ve managed to fit some sheets and towels, clothing and toiletries into four massive suitcases. Joost’s parents will drive over via ferry in two weeks to bring the rest of our clothes and some of the things we can live without until then. When we arrive, we’ll have a partially furnished apartment, but no kitchen supplies, no phones, no internet, no car, no bikes and foreign bank accounts–it’s going to be an interesting couple of days. We will try to update as soon as we can!

Bye Netherlands!

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