Coming back to the UK from the Netherlands to celebrate the festivities with family and friends has been great. Great but strange. From driving on the wrong side of the road to saying, ‘Thank you,’ when paying for something, it’s taken a little bit of adjusting for the first few days.
Of course it’s not only the small things. Making the Netherlands my home started off as a temporary thing. The original major plan was a five or six month stint before I went away on another ski season, this time without getting fired, hopefully. My job was lined up in France, and I thought I would be pretty much ready to drop Amsterdam and embark on a new adventure in the Alps.
But things change, as they often do. I found a boy who I didn’t really want to live anywhere without, and we found a new life together in the city famous for prostitutes, marijuana and bicycles. Which is, of course, very romantic. Regardless of its dodgy reputation, Amsterdam is a beautiful place and really has become our home, resulting in our return to the UK feeling just a little bit peculiar.
The UK, specifically my home town, doesn’t really feel like ‘home’ any more. Home is, as they say, where the heart is. And although I miss my friends, my family, some good old British chippy chips and a deeply embedded championing of The Queue, my heart is now settled in the Netherlands. I love my bike, I love eating stroopwaffels, I love Albert Heijn, I love our canal house with our persistent and illusive resident mouse, I love the barrage of red chinos and blonde hair and I love how much I appreciate everyday living in such an amazing city.
This appreciation is a real sticking point. I love every day in Amsterdam. I remember growing up in Mansfield and just hating the town I was surrounded by, the grimy people and miserable atmosphere, the run down pubs and the worn out shops. Even when I lived in Birmingham for university, I never fell in love with the city. I enjoyed my time there but I didn’t find it hard to say goodbye. But nothing has to be settled for in life if you have the ability to change it.
The reason I have been able to find somewhere, make it my home and not complain every day about how much I hate it is all down to travel. Travel has given me the confidence to try new things. One of them being that moment in a bar in the Alps when I booked a one way ticket to Amsterdam. It’s given me the knowledge that things can go wrong when you go anywhere in the world. But with that, I’ve been able to acknowledge that it’s mostly not as bad as you think it is and even if it is, eventually everything works out for the best. Consequentially, taking a risk and trying to make it somewhere completely new isn’t as big a deal as it sounds. Despite an everlasting lack of money en route to the Dam, I wasn’t particularly worried. It was just another adventure that I was excited to be taking myself on.
From the day that I arrived on the amazing summer house boat 6 months ago I knew that I loved Amsterdam. I guess it takes a trip back to the place you used to call home to really fully understand how much things have changed. Here’s to the next year in the Netherlands!