Welcome Home: My First Days in the Netherlands

For the last few weeks, my life and activities have all pointed towards one thing: moving. Whether I was driving to the doctor to get my transfer file, saying goodbye to my friends, or checking my business mailbox one last time, I always had the upcoming move on my mind. By the time Monday rolled around, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I did it. Somehow, this cluttered and frequently forgetful 23-year-old pulled off an international move!

It’s now been a little under a week since I landed in the Netherlands. In the minutes before my plane touched the ground on Tuesday, I started putting on makeup (long distance relationship trick), and then immediately began to cry. It was all happening: moving abroad, living with Ken after five years of long distance, and starting the post-college chapter of my life.

Ken picked me up at the airport, colorful flowers in hand. We had a cup of coffee at the same café where we had often said our goodbyes on previous trips. I was a little sleep-drunk from not resting enough on the plane, so I giggled as I took pictures of the flowers, of us, of the luggage. We hugged and laughed and made our way to the taxi to take us to our apartment.

That bleary sleepless expression is a hallmark of all my post-landing selfies.

I had never seen our apartment in person before, but after we decided that it was “the one,” I looked at the photos almost every day to get a feel of the place. It only struck me in the plane that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t like it; Ken and I do have, after all, very different taste. Luckily, I fell in love with the apartment the moment I walked through the door. Some things were different than I expected; the living room was bigger than I thought; my office, smaller. Overall, I loved it more than I had even hoped. It felt light and airy and beautiful, and I couldn’t wait to get to work making our new apartment a home.

That night, Ken surprised me with a big “family dinner” of sorts at my aunt and uncle’s house. I was so happy to see everyone, though I had a hard time keeping my eyes open as the evening progressed, so eventually Ken and I went back to the apartment, and I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The days since have been wonderful. Ken and I are caught up in basic apartment things: shopping for furniture at Ikea, figuring out how our appliances work, buying groceries together and debating over which kind of margarine is better. It sounds boring, but is oddly thrilling to me. I’m ridiculously happy: this shared life is something I’ve been longing for since Ken and I started dating, five years ago.

For the last five years, I’ve always been in transit. Between home, Wellesley, and visiting Ken, my life couldn’t seem to sit still. Now, I finally feel settled. I’m figuring out a routine, which to my great surprise includes things like “make dinner” and “take out the recycling” (because now that Ken and I live together, if we don’t do it, no one does). Ken and I are figuring out things like how high we want the thermostat. This morning, I’m sitting in my office and trying to establish a work routine for the first time since my semester ended.

It’s a strange time in my life, and I’ve never been more aware of exactly how young and how old I am. The fact that I’m excited by things like dishtowels is absurd and hilarious to me. But truly, I’m so, so happy. After all these years, we did it. I’m home.

Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

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