My first year in Amsterdam was not exactly the romantic fantasy that I imagined. I have to be honest the idea of running off to Europe to be with a man that I barely knew was pretty exciting. I imagined weekend trips to the south of France, afternoons spent drinking Prosecco at a café along a canal, bike rides through the countryside, ski trips to Austria, sailing through the Greek Islands, what else could a girl want?
Once the prospect of moving to Amsterdam became a reality I was forced to inject a heavy dose of practicality into my European fantasy. It was going to be hard. Really hard. I didn’t know anyone in Amsterdam other than Sebastiaan, I didn’t speak Dutch and given my financial situation at the time let’s just say I wouldn’t be jetting off to a château in the French Alps anytime soon. Unless of course Sebastiaan was a Duke or something…Was it possible he was a Duke? Do they even have Dukes in Holland? (OK, so I needed a bit of a reality check…) So given the unlikelihood that Sebastiaan was Dutch royalty and that anyone else I knew would be crazy enough to join me on this adventure I needed to realign my expectations.
I was going to be homesick. Probably really homesick. I’ve lived away from home before, even abroad, and after a few weeks I usually adjust quite well. I would be fine. I’m an out-going fairly likeable gal right? Right.
So I did it. I packed my bags, said goodbye to my friends and family and flew off to start my life in Amsterdam. The first month was tough. Really tough. Sebastiaan was working all the time, I only had class twice a week and I spent most of my time alone. I tried to find things to occupy my time. Take a yoga class, try new restaurants, explore the city but the thing is I didn’t want to do it alone. I was lonely. It was great being with Sebastiaan and when we did have time to spend together it was fantastic but what kind of life was this? I’m not exactly the kind of girl who sits at home all day waiting for her boyfriend…
After a much-needed summer at home in the states doing internships, we moved back to Amsterdam, got an apartment in the center of the city and decided to start fresh. I got a job, reconnected with friends and was determined to enjoy living in one of the most exciting cities in Europe. It worked.
Although I’ve come leaps and bounds from where I was this time last year, sometimes I miss the comforts of home so badly that I’d give anything for just a taste of my mom’s cooking and a day of shopping with my best friend.
The thing is as busy as I try to keep myself there are bound to be times where I’m stuck at home with no one to call and little to do. These are the moments where all I can think of is home. I miss having a group of friends to call and go out with or simply curl up on the couch with popcorn and watch a movie. I miss going to brunch with the girls. I miss getting manicures and pedicures with my mom. I miss dance parties and girls nights. I miss sleepovers.
I miss my friends. I miss my family.
I have been lucky enough to make some great friends here and I definitely don’t know what I would do without the love and support I immediately felt from Sebastiaan’s family. But most of all I don’t know what I would do without Sebastiaan. He has truly been my rock, my shoulder to cry on and partner in crime through this difficult transition abroad. I know it wasn’t always easy for him to see me wiping tears from my eyes after calls from home, but he always tried to understand and cheer me up in any way that he could. He made a lot of sacrifices during that first year to help me feel as comfortable as possible in his country. His extraordinary love, compassion, understanding and patience are qualities I can only hope will one day rub off on me. Sebastiaan probably didn’t, and may never truly understand what those first few months were really like for me, but the thing is, he doesn’t have to. All he needed to know was that I was unhappy and struggling to adjust to our new life. So for him, finding a way to make me happy was all that mattered. Although I still miss home and probably always will. I can finally say that I’m happy here. Things aren’t perfect and they probably never will be. Life’s challenges will continue to follow me wherever I live, but for me, having Sebastiaan by my side is worth it all.
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” ~ Emily Bronte