The Six-Month Mark

Hard to believe, but as of this past Sunday, I have officially lived in the Netherlands for six months. We didn’t do anything in particular to mark the day. We had friends visiting, and we hopped the ferry to NDSM Wharf and explored what is most often referred to as a “post-apocalyptic landscape”. We sat at the Noorderlicht Cafe in the sunshine drinking IJ beer and eating toasties. It was a pretty perfect Amsterdam afternoon. So while there was no fanfare about the milestone of my half-year abroad, I have been thinking a lot about what the past months have taught me…

  • Be patient. It’s easy to have expectations for my life and myself, but sometimes things take longer than I think they will. Give it time.
  • Keep the wonder. Take nothing for granted. Don’t let anything feel routine. Or as the great Mary Oliver says:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

  • Go for it. I’ve had to put myself into situations that were uncomfortable, whether asking for help or extending an invitation to someone. But you’ll never know unless you take a risk.
  • Keep learning. The sum total of what I know about Dutch history and culture would fit in one of the saddle bags on my bicycle. Ask questions, and be humble and curious.
  • Embrace it. All of it. Even the bad stuff. Whether it’s a broken friendship or a bike ride home in the stinging rain, it’s part of the experience.
  • Home is where I make it. It’s where the people I love are, and where I find myself both energized and at peace.
  • Explore. There’s more of Amsterdam that we haven’t seen than we have seen. I want to keep finding new places, but also new ways to experience the city.

I’m sure there’s more – much more – that I’ve learned, and more will come. Thanks for sharing the journey this far.  Ever onward…


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