Friday, March 11, 2011

One year ago tomorrow...

It's hard to believe that one year ago tomorrow, we packed up our lives in Australia and moved to Europe for the second time. The time has gone by so quickly; it truly doesn't feel like it's been that long since I've set foot on Aussie soil. And it's even harder to believe just how much has changed in one short year - new country, new language, new friends, new side of the road, meeting new relatives & a new health system just to name a few... And the biggest & most exciting change: a baby on the way :-)

After a year away, it's funny to sit here and think of just how much has happened in such a short space of time. We really never expected to move back to Europe when Mitch finished his PhD - it wasn't that we didn't want to, we had such a fantastic time in France back in 2007 but I was SO determined that if we were going away for 2 years, we were moving to an English speaking country! Anyone who knows us well knows how much we've wanted to go to the States - from when we moved to France (we had originally been looking at going to New York as Mitch was interested in some work there) to when we got back, Mitch was informally offered a job with a company in Silicon Valley and so we had in our heads for 2 years that we were going to San Francisco. It was all looking very promising, only to find out just before Christmas 2009 that the company had lost a heap of funding and wasn't allowed to employ anyone new :-( They tried their best but finally we made the hard decision that we couldn't be in limbo anymore and needed to make some plans - and so the job hunting began... (and then only 6mths later when Mitch ran into them at a conference - they had a job opening.... Oops, bit late!!!).

I can't recall how many jobs Mitch applied for but we spent quite a few late nights putting together his cover letters and applications. We never really stressed over it but knew the right job would come up and before long, he had a few offers. We could either go back to France or - he was offered 2 positions on the same project, one in Switzerland and one in the Netherlands. He was offered both these jobs on the same day and we had to make a quick decision - Holland it was! Although I was confident we had made the right decision, there was always this niggling thought in the back of my mind - should we have gone to Switzerland? A year later, I can now see that we made the best possible decision that day for our situation. Living in Holland sure has it's ups and downs, but I have really fallen in love with Flatland. The weather is just plain awful for more then half the year but the people are among the warmest, kindest and most friendly I have met on any of our travels. I love how everyone cycles absolutely everywhere, I love their sing-song strange sounding language (which resembles English spoken backwards) although it does get frustrating when I can't communicate in it properly, I love seeing windmills in random places, I love their supermarkets and well - who can go past a stroopwafel!?!?!

Moving overseas, especially over 16,000km from your family and friends, is a big deal and not something to be taken lightly. Thinking back to our flight to the UK last March, I have to laugh at myself. From Mitch being offered the job, we had a total of 8 weeks to give notice to our jobs (well, for me anyway - Mitch's contract was ending, hence the hurry in finding a job!), pack up our belongings (& try to decide what to take with us - not an easy thing to have to pack for 2 years away!), sell our car, sort out visa issues and begin the hard task of saying goodbye to our family and friends. Mitch didn't finish up at work until the day before we left, my visa didn't arrive until 2 days before we left (don't get me started on my visa nightmare - it's lucky we were able to even leave the country) - it all happened so quickly, I don't think I had time to really process what was going on. After 3 farewell parties, we were finally at the airport - feeling very overtired and relieved that everything worked out and we were on our way. Even so, the realisation of the huge move we were making didn't hit me until we were on the second leg of our flight between KL & London - all of a sudden (ok, it could have been brought on by the fact that my tv screen didn't work and they couldn't do anything about it cos it was a full flight), I found myself teary and emotional. I think I spent a great deal of that flight hysterically crying and gulping out 'what have we donnnne?!?!'. I feel so silly thinking about it now cos it's not like me at all - I LOVE an adventure - but as soon as we landed at Heathrow and I saw a very familiar face there to greet us, I felt so much better.

12/03/2010 - the final farewell at Brisbane airport!

Since that awful plane ride, I can honestly say that I've never looked back - I think moving here was the best possible thing for us. Mitch loves his job & has met some fantastic people there - it's a great work environment. We've found a great bi-lingual church, it's been really fulfilling getting in touch with my roots and just gaining more of an understanding of my family & where I come from, and living overseas & all these new experiences has been really enriching personally - we've both grown so much, individually and as a couple. We've also been really lucky to be able to broaden our horizons and see so many more new places - last year alone we traveled through England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and of course, the Netherlands. All that being said though, I've also come to realise that there is no place like Australia. The freedom, the ease of, well, everything (things like licences and health care and bank accounts are so much more simple to organise), the weather, the beauty... It's in a league of it's own and I've really come to appreciate it more being so far away. Plus, I really miss my friends and family, like you wouldn't believe. But, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I truly do think that we're in the right place for now - it won't be home forever but I'm so glad we ended up in little old Flatland :-)

2 comments:

  1. Hi there Lu!! Loved reading your post - this year has flown by!! Wow!! God knew the plans he had for you in moving you to Holland and so glad that it has all worked out so well! I was only thinking today how when you were staying with us - it was just you and Mitch and when you come back, in two short years, so much will have changed: you will be a family of three!! :))

    I can't wait to hang out with you, Mitch and junior when you come back! That will be lots of fun! Much love and we miss you heaps too! Love Martine

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  2. We definitely feel like we are in the right place :-) Holland is a pretty special country, although it is tough at times, especially being so far away. But I do love Gerritsen spotting (the name pops up everywhere) and seeing faces that look like Dad! We are so looking forward to hanging out with you guys when we come back (it's strange to think we'll be coming back as 3!) - I know Stroopy will love hanging out with his/her cousins and especially having a little cousin the same age!!!! Love lots xoxo

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Thanks for reading, your comments make my day :-)

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