#dutch, Dutch, General Life Tips, Good Old Fun, Other, Story Time

An Average Day Of My Life Now Here In The Netherlands Compared To An Average Day Of My Life When I Still Lived In South Africa

Shit, that must be the messiest title I’ve ever written but I can’t think of anything else so let’s just go with it? I’m sorry.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a really long time now. I don’t know why I just never took the time to sit down and write this blog but I’m here now so let’s start with the introduction. This year in June, it will be 2 years since I’ve officially immigrated. For those who don’t know, I’m originally from South Africa. I came to the Netherlands just after finishing high school and met my husband six months in. We fell in love and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together but we needed to figure some stuff out. How will we make the distance work? My au pair year ended and I went back to South Africa with the idea that I will come back after a few months and stay with Onno for the entire three months of my tourist visa. This was our test. Do we want to take our relationship further? He proposed just before I came back and for the next year or so, we worked on the partner Visa so I could immigrate to the Netherlands. It was a long process as we had to wait 6 months until I turned 21 to start the process. Onno came to South Africa to meet my family. We had a little wedding ceremony for my family in South Africa as we planned to marry in the Netherlands later that year. We started the long process early February and I landed in the Netherlands as an immigrant on Onno’s birthday. It was surreal. Although it was my third time coming to the Netherlands, I always had a return ticket, but this time there wasn’t anything like that. It was different. I did promise my parents that I will try to come back to South Africa every two to three years and so far, I’m planning on keeping that promise with a planned trip to go to South Africa in August 2020. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve lived in the Netherlands for a while now and I like to think I’ve adjusted to my new life here. I still struggle in the winter but that’s just because it’s really fucking cold. I love the snow though. I will take the cold every day if it means I get to play in the snow.

Things that were strange to me, in the beginning, is perfectly normal now. So much has changed over the years and I’m so thankful to call this country my home. I thought it would be fun to compare my daily life in the Netherlands and my daily life in South Africa. It’s completely different. Let’s start with South Africa.

South Africa

The time frame of this is only a few months before I immigrated. I lived with my father for a few months as I thought it would be really nice. I grew up with my mother I really wanted to live with my father before I left the country. At this time, I was doing the online nutrition course so I feel it kind of compares to my blog and book workload at the moment. As weekends were always different, then and now, I’m just going to choose a random workday. Let’s make it a Tuesday.

My morning started really early when I lived with my father. He gets up for work before the sun rises so I got up with him to make him his breakfast, lunch, and iron a work shirt if needed. Waking up at 05:30 was incredibly hard in the beginning and 8/10 times I would climb back into bed after he left for work but eventually my body adjusted and I would stay awake. As those times were rare, I’m going to say I went back to bed at 6am once my dad left for work. Depending on how tired I am, I would a) read until 07:30 or b) sleep until 07:30. If I chose to sleep until 07:30 I would then read for 30 minutes and get up at 8am. On average I was out and about at 8am. I would then make myself a cup of coffee and open up the backyard so the dogs can go for a run on the field next to my father’s house. Most of the time I would sit on the chair in the sun while the dogs ran and enjoy my cup of coffee (oh how I miss coffee). The dogs would come back in at 08:30 and I will go back inside and clean up from the night before. This could be packing the clean dishes away from the night before or just cleaning the countertop. I didn’t deep clean or anything like that, it would be just a quick clean in the kitchen and that’s about it. At 9am I will return to my room, get dressed and start my studies. I would then study for about 3 hours before finally having breakfast at 11am. After breakfast I would a) return to my studies if I need to or b) go to the shops. I went to the shops quite often as there was always something I needed to do. If I didn’t drop off one of my dad’s work pants to get fixed, I would go pick up his pills at the doctor. I would usually buy all the groceries at the end of the month but I would run to the shop to top on milk, bread, vegetables and fruits for me and etc. Most of the time I would need to go to the shops once a week. I would take my father’s car and get everything done and be back at the house around lunchtime. Depending on my father’s workday he would sometimes come home for lunchtime and other times I would drop off a meal at his work (if there weren’t enough leftovers from the night before). I would then take a small break as it would be too hot to really concentrate and I would be tired from the busy day. It’s then when I would switch on the TV and watch some program. It was a lot of day time TV. Usually around this time, Botched would be on and I would watch an episode while drinking another cup of coffee. After an hour break, I would get back to my studies and study until my father gets home. I would always try to finish my studies for the day by the time he got home so I could bond with him. He would get home between 17:30 and 18:00. Some days he ran later but, on most days, he would be home around then. We will catch up with each other’s day and just have a talk as we watch something on the TV before I start dinner. I like to start dinner at around 7pm. Most of my meals are quick to prepare so we will have dinner anywhere from 19:30 and 19:45. I think on some days I would make dinner earlier but it’s been a while so I’m not sure anymore. Did we eat dinner at 7pm or did I start dinner around 7pm? After dinner, I will watch a little TV with my dad and after an hour or so I will go clean up the kitchen and hop in the shower. I would then normally go sit in the lounge with my dad for another 30-45 minutes or so before he would go take a bath and get ready for bed around 9pm. Sometimes I would watch some more TV but most of the time I would be so tired from the long day I would climb crawl into bed around 9pm and read for an hour or so until I fall asleep. Oh, there was about two months where I would walk with the dogs on the field next door but I always did that when my dad was home and he could keep an eye on me as South Africa can be a dangerous place. Walking alone is a big no-no. Oh, and I would feed the dogs as dinner was on the go. Who could forget that?

I look back now and I smile. I enjoyed those few months I lived with my dad. It was a lot of fun, sometimes it was a bit frustrating as my dad wouldn’t really help with the house duties but I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Oh, I always do the laundry on a Monday so sometimes I would iron my dad’s work shirts on a Tuesday but I would always postpone it until about Thursday or Friday. I hate ironing.

Netherlands

My morning here in the Netherlands starts bright and early. I usually wake up at 7am when the husband is up and about but on certain occasions, I would snooze until 08:30. I love reading in the morning so once I wake up, I will read until I feel like starting my day. I try to get up and start my day around 9am but I also don’t beat myself up if I snooze for a bit longer. It really depends on my frame of mind or my mental headspace. Ideally, I want to get up at 7am and work but those days are very rare. Anyway, so let’s just go with the usual where I’m up and about at 9am. I will get dressed and work behind my computer until 10:00 to 10:30. In this time I would normally work on my blog: respond to comments, write a blog or whatever I need to do for my website. If I’m not working on my blog at this time, I’m writing (creatively). I have a set routine when it comes to balancing my blog and my stories. I tend to work on my blog every day all day for a few weeks until I have about a month of blogs scheduled in advance and then I will switch over to working on whatever story I’m busy with. It’s a fine balance but overall, I write every single day. Hence why I developed tendinosis. Oh, I should probably explain this. About a month ago, I found a lump in my hand. Normally, I would let these types of things go. I’m not going to rush to the doctor and instead see if it will go away. My breast cramps, oh it’s probably normal. I won’t Google it because that will fuel paranoia but it’s probably nothing. I don’t feel lumps so it’s all good. There is blood in my poo, oh it’s okay. All normal here. It’s nothing big. I did eventually ask the doctor about it once when I was there for something else and it’s normal with people with celiac disease. So, nine out of ten, I just leave it with the thought that if it gets worse or anything changes, I will go see the doctor. But…this time around I couldn’t leave it. I’m in such a fragile piece of mind, one simple lump completely spun me for a loop. I had to know what it is. I couldn’t stop touching it or wait to see if it will go away. I need to know what it is. Two days after discovering the lump, I made a doctor’s appointment. It was quite embarrassing to go to the doctor for something so small but I just desperately needed that peace of mind of knowing it’s nothing or at least knowing what it is exactly. I have tendinosis. Tendinosis is a degeneration of the tendon’s collagen in response to chronic overuse; when overuse is continued without giving the tendon time to heal and rest, such as with repetitive strain injury, tendinosis results. Even tiny movements, such as clicking a mouse, can cause tendinosis when done repeatedly. So, my insane amount of writing every single day gave me a very painful bite in the ass. Typically, you treat this by resting and taking things slowly but well I’m always going to be a writer soooooooo …basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m hurting and I need to take more breaks in between to not aggravate the situation. I might see a physical therapist soon so I can get some massaging techniques to help but yeah. If it gets worse and I can no longer move my fingers, they will inject it with a steroid and then if that doesn’t work, they remove it surgically but that’s obviously the last choice on the table. All in all, this last month writing has been a bit painful. I get cramps if I write too much and it’s just sensitive all together. I’ve tried to limit how much I write a day but I’m working on something super special that I want to launch in April so I need to buckle down and work hard. I’m almost at the finish line and then I can take two weeks off from writing altogether. Maybe I will even take a month but I have no idea what I will do with myself if I’m not going to write my days away anymore. Oh, I know, study for the 2 big immigration tests I have to do this year. Did I mention I need to my driver license this year as well? Yes, it’s a lot of fun and I can’t wait. I’m completely off topic so let’s go back to my usual day here in the Netherlands.

After about an hour or so of work, I will go downstairs and open Dankie’s cage. After we cuddle for a bit, I will drink my supplements before I sit on the couch and chill. If I found a good book the night before, I would read in this time or if I found a good series, I would watch an episode. It depends on the mood. I usually drink a cup of tea. Dankie usually wants to go out for a potty break and I will let the cat in as Dankie goes out. Around 11am I will give the kitchen a quick clean although I don’t always do this. I do tend to some cleaning around this time but it’s not a heavy cleaning session. I just tidy everything up session. If I’m in a depressive state I will often just sit on the couch and watch series all day or read. I will go up around 12pm to work some more if my hand allows it. Ideally, I would then write for two or three hours. I normally stop when my hand hurts or I’m hungry. If the weather is nice Dankie will be outside in this time period and if it’s raining, he will be in his area with his toy. I normally eat around 2pm or 3pm for the first time. My appetite has been extremely weak this last year or so but I’m taking small steps to eat my three meals everyday. I usually cuddle with Dankie on the couch as I eat breakfast and I will continue to relax there for an hour or so. I usually do the shopping on a Tuesday or a Thursday as the shops are less busy on these days so if needed, I will go to the shops by bicycle, if not I will take Dankie for a walk although these last two weeks I’ve been walking Dankie at night with Onno. If I don’t go to the shops or walk the dog, I will usually just become one with my couch until 5pm. Depending on how I feel I will sometimes do a bit of housework, play around on the internet, read or play sims as I wait for the husband to come home. Sometimes I would even go back upstairs to write some more. I try to have everything finished by the time he gets home so we can just be together. He comes home around 7pm and I will talk his ear off before I start dinner. After dinner we chill on the couch and then if I didn’t walk the dog that day, we will walk him together around 9pm. After our 30-minute walk, I will hop into the shower and go up. Onno usually stay downstairs for another 30 minute or so. I usually read for a few hours once I’m in bed. It’s a pretty relaxed day. Some are crazier than others and some days the biggest task I do that day is getting out of my bed. I don’t punish myself for feeling like this, not anymore anyway. I realize that I’m not a perfect human being and as long as I take small steps every single day, then that’s good enough. Some days I’m a superwoman that does everything without a hint of break and other days I’m a couch potato. AND that’s okay.

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Although I’m on the other side of the world, my day is still similar. I don’t mind that. It’s different but some things never change. I’m grateful that I get to spend my days here in the Netherlands. I’m grateful to have such a supporting and loving husband. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to follow my dreams. I hope you enjoyed this blog, it’s a bit random but I had fun so I guess that’s a win. I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Guest Blog

My Experience As A South African Au Pair In America | 5 Tips To Help With Homesickness | Guest Blog Part 1

I’ve been wanting to do a collab with someone else since I started my blog. I’m so happy to share that my best friend in the entire world agreed to answer a few questions of mine. I’m going to take this opportunity to announce that come April 2019, Anje and I will be releasing the first chapter of the book we’re co-writing together. It will be posted weekly on here every Sunday starting April. If you’re as excited as me and wish to check Anje’s writing out, please go show her some love on her Wattpad profile. She just released her new book called Abnormal Roses and I’m obsessed. She also has a traveler Instagram account where she posts about all the places she’s been too. And the girl has traveled the globe. All the links will be down below. Now that everything is out of the way, let’s get started!

Introduction

I’ve reached out to Anje who I felt could share a part of her journey with you, my readers, in hopes that she can help someone out there who have gone through this experience even if it’s just to show that you’re not alone.

  1. Can you tell me a little about yourself? Just a little introduction before we jump into the topic at hand.

Hello everyone, my name is Anje, I am 22 years old and currently living in South Africa. I often find it hard to describe myself other than saying I am a socially awkward introvert who absolutely loves to travel and experience new cultures and people. A bit of a contradiction if you ask me, but true all the same. I am a very heavy reader, my all-time favorite author being Arthur Conan Doyle, and my favorite novels being the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. My passions in life are writing, archery, and chocolate.

The probing begins…

  1. How was your experience as an au pair in America?

I absolutely loved it! The States completely blew away all my expectations, which honestly surprised me a lot. I think what had helped me a ton was that I had already been an au pair the year before, though I had been in the Netherlands, I still understood that being an au pair wasn’t just all fun and games and some days would be better than others.

Anyways, back to America; when I arrived in New York for a three-day orientation, it was the night before America was to find out who their new president was. Needless to say, it was quite crazy, but nothing could have ruined my time in New York City. It’s insane, loud, and slightly stinky, but it is beyond amazing. As we zipped through the streets, passing yellow taxi cabs and towering skyscrapers, I just thought “wow, I am so lucky to be here right now.” Having to deal with jetlag was annoying, but you got so busy with orientation and training, you barely thought about it. After the three days, I finally hopped on a train and went to what would become my new home; Washington DC. After about a three-hour ride, I stepped off the train and into Union Station, which is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen. My new host family was there, greeting me with welcoming signs and warm hugs, then we hopped into their car and went to their house. They have three children, when I had arrived they were aged 4, 2, and 6 weeks. Needless to say, I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was beyond excited to start.

The host parents are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Me being a very awkward and shy person, I worried about being able to develop a proper relationship with them. But boy oh boy was I worried for nothing! They welcomed me into their home with such kindness and excitement, there was never a time I felt unwelcome or even uncomfortable about being in a stranger’s house. It wasn’t before long when I became very close to my host mom, we often laughed about how our relationship was closer to that between sisters than of an employee and her boss. They never treated me like “the help,” and always asked my opinion when it came to the kids.

I know that I had hit the jackpot with them, as I believe that a host family can really make or break your experience as an au pair. This is also why I always tell people who are considering being au pairs, that if they are uncomfortable with their host parents based out of actual concerns, for example, they ask you to work overtime but don’t pay you for it, or the kids treat you like dirt and the parents encourage it, then transfer to a different family! I had a friend who was completely miserable, to the point where she even began to hate America, because her host family was horrible to her. This being said, it is also extremely important for the au pair to understand that this job is anything but easy. You are basically helping raise kids, it is going to be exhausting, it is going to be hard, but it is also worth every minute of it. I’ve had au pair friends who became an au pair with the notion that it was going to be a lovely gap year, filled with relaxation and parties, but of course, that is not reality. I found that these friends often struggled the most with adapting to their new environment, generally becoming miserable as they didn’t expect to actually work.

But please don’t be discouraged from ever becoming an au pair, it is an amazingly fulfilling job, where you get to experience a different culture, country and meet new interesting people. Just keep in mind that it isn’t always going to be easy, there will be days where you want to give up, but push through, it is worth it.

I remember when I first got there everything seemed so different and new. The food was bigger, the people greeted me on the streets, and when you pay for your meals at a restaurant the waitress takes your card to the machine. My host mom, who was still on maternity leave, showed me around the city a lot. We drove past the white house, countless museums, and visited her parents in Arlington, Virginia. I honestly didn’t have such a big issue with culture shock, other than having to use a few different words to describe some things (Not the boot, but the trunk, not a costume, but a bathing suit). I think this is because Cape Town, where I grew up, had a lot of American influences. That and we typically watch American shows, meaning I was always exposed to the American culture and kind of had an idea of what to expect.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t have to deal with being homesick. I’ll admit, during my first year I was completely fine, but close to the end of my second year, things got a little tougher. It is, unfortunately, part of the job, but I do have some tips that worked for me, should you ever have to deal with being homesick as an au pair or traveler. Small disclaimer, though these tips did help me cope, it isn’t to say they will work for you. As you live and experience the new city you are in, you will start to realize what you enjoy doing during your free time and what helps you relax, do what makes you happy. But anyways, some things that helped me:

  • Skype with my family, even if it is just for a few minutes. I would catch up to what was happening back home and tell them how things were going with me. I often found that telling them about my day or week was a great stress reliever. It also allowed me to get excited again, especially when I told them about something new I did or saw.
  • Talk to your host family or friends. Finding someone who you can rely on for support is vital, not only for your mental health but your experience as an au pair. It is great when you can talk to your host family, but it is also good to have someone else. With a friend, you can complain and rant about the things that annoyed you about your day and lean on them whenever you feel homesick. I remember after a particularly tough day of work, it was a snow day so all three kids were home, I messaged my friend and she immediately told me to meet her at Union station. We then had a lovely time walking around the snow, taking pictures in front of the capitol building, and grabbing some dinner at a nice restaurant. When I arrived home I felt amazing, talking about my day had taken away so much stress and I felt ready to face the next day of hard work.
  • Go for a walk. This is a wonderful way to help clear your mind and take a step back from everything going on around you. You can listen to some music or just enjoy your surroundings, I found it often calmed me down a lot. This can even include exploring a little, whether it is going to a museum, a mall, or even nearby coffee shop.
  • Self-care. As an au pair, this is extremely important!! You will basically be taking on the role of mom and therefore will be tired and have little time for yourself while you are working. Self-care can be anything from going to bed earlier, taking a relaxing bubble bath, reading your favorite book, or listening to music while stuffing your face with chocolates. Self-care differs for everyone, do what you feel works for you.
  • Be sad. Yes, this sounds absolutely depressing, but part of being human means having feelings and emotions. We would be doing ourselves a disservice by completely ignoring how we feel, invalidating our own feelings can cause us even more distress. I had learned this the hard way, sadly, as my number one coping mechanism is to hide behind “No, I’m fine,” while actually falling apart inside. Then the smallest thing would happen like my favorite tv character would die (RIP Khal Drogo) or I would knock my elbow against the wall, and everything would just come crashing down. One night, after bawling my eyes out over having found a cricket in my bathroom, I had decided to think more about my feelings and to validate my emotions. Now when I am sad or angry, I go through those emotions, I allow myself to feel, no matter how hard it is. But it helps, when I had worked through the emotions they eventually fade away and I am able to move on from whatever had troubled me.

Now back to my time as an au pair. So in my first year, a typical day would be waking up, going upstairs at 8, saying goodbye to the oldest girl when her dad took her to school, and begin making breakfast for the 2-year-old. My morning would be spent entertaining him, while also taking care of the baby. My host mom luckily worked from home, which helped a lot seeing as the baby refused to take the bottle during the first month or so. One day, when my host mom had to go into the office, the baby had a 6-hour hunger strike. I tried everything to get her to drink, but she outright refused. It was also during this time that we were trying to potty train the 2-year-old boy. It was probably one of the most disgusting things I had ever experienced in my life, but luckily we all got through it. The months passed by rather quickly, the boy now 3 and the eldest now 5. Summer break then came, catching me slightly off guard. It was so humid outside we were confined indoors for most of the time. I kept them busy with science experiments, baking, art projects, and dance parties. When summer break was finally over, the 3-year-old also started school, meaning it was just me and the baby from that point on.

When school started it felt quite weird having only one kid, but I wasn’t complaining one bit. I took her for walks in the stroller, taught her some Afrikaans words, and helped her learn how to walk. It was around October, a day or so before my birthday, that my host parents decided to move to a different house. It was only a few blocks from the old one, but a lot bigger. It was also during this time that a particularly nasty stomach bug was slowly making its way through the whole family. As luck would have it, on moving day, the day before my birthday, I got sick. I was confined to my bed for almost three days, not even able to eat my own birthday cake. My host mom, however, decided that this was unacceptable and said that my birthday would move to that weekend, when I am healthy again. That Saturday morning the whole family sang me a happy birthday, bringing a cupcake with a candle. It warmed my heart, as I had told her it was a tradition of my family to do that on someone’s birthday. That day my host mom, her mom, the 5-year-old girl and I went out to get our hair done and have lunch at a huge mall. It was a great day, we did some shopping and had a lot of fun bonding.

Halloween then came around and let me tell you, it was amazing!!!  Back home in South Africa, we do not celebrate Halloween, save for a few house parties some people throw, but we definitely do not go trick or treating. So walking down the street with the kids all dressed up, watching them fill their bags full of chocolate and candy, was probably a highlight of my year. That and the fact that I ate my bodyweight in chocolate that night.

Thanksgiving was also beyond amazing, we went to my host dad’s family in Rochester New York and his mom is a genius in the kitchen! She had like 4 types of pies!!! The amazing food aside it was also a great experience to be part of that holiday, especially when we sat around the table and said what we are grateful for. About a month after that it was Christmas, a holiday I thought I would be prepared for seeing as we celebrate it back home as well. But, boy was I wrong. America does Christmas like I have never seen Christmas being done before. I always said that America’s motto is “go big or go home.” Giant Christmas trees around every corner, beautiful Christmas lights wrapped around every building, green wreaths on every door, it was a kaleidoscope of color and cheer. It was beautiful and really makes you excited for Christmas. The day itself wasn’t at all different than how we celebrate it back in South Africa. The kids will open their presents that morning, the family will come over that evening for a delicious Christmas meal. It was strange being away from my family, but I skyped with them the whole morning and everyone at the Christmas dinner was so friendly, it made it so much easier.

So then New Years rolled around and 2018 marked my second year as an Au Pair. I had decided to extend with the same family, but that is a decision that depends on so many variables. For one thing, you have spent an entire year building a bond with these kids and their parents, you have a stable routine, you know how everything works, and you are comfortable with your surroundings. But on the other hand, there is a new adventure that awaits, a new State to explore, and new people to meet. I think it all depends on you as the au pair, if you feel that you want to experience a new family and city, then go for it, if you don’t, then stay. Just never feel as though you are obligated to stay in the same place, even if you don’t want to.

I think I also need to talk about traveling, definitely my all-time favorite topic in life. So when I was in the Netherlands I would only travel by train and use Couchsurfing. I traveled to so many places, I got to walk through the Colosseum in Rome, fell asleep on a beach in France, bought fresh fruit in Barcelona, and went up on the Eiffel Tower with my best friend. But I quickly learned that it isn’t that easy in America, obviously the US is a lot bigger and you need to use different ways of getting around. So my main form of traveling came in the shape of road trips. My friend and I would rent a car and go wherever we wanted. Keep in mind that if you are under the age of 24 you might have trouble renting a car or would have to pay a lot more. Also always get insurance, it might be a little more expensive, but trust me it’s worth it! We were also quite lucky being only a few hours drive from New York, but for that, we decided to take the bus. There are a lot of cheap busses in America, it might take you longer to get to your destination, but let me put it like this: A 3-hour train ride from DC to NY was around $60, while a 5-hour bus was around $15. I am a full-time student so saving money was important, which meant I was on the bus, rather than the train.

The best way of finding the cheapest ways to travel is by doing a lot of research! Go on different websites, use Hostels instead of Hotels, compare the prices of everything! It does take some time, but when you are on a budget it helps a lot. My all-time favorite website was Wanderu. Basically, you type in where you are and where you want to go and it gives you hundreds of options for busses and trains. It compares prices from a bunch of different travel services so you know you are getting the best deal.

***

In part two we will talk about how Anje balanced being a full-time au pair in America while studying. Part two will go up on Monday, so stay tuned. Please show her some love on her Instagram or in the comments down below. I will send it all through to her.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Abnormal Roses — https://www.wattpad.com/story/170208404-abnormal-roses

Anje’s Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/anje_tait/

 

#dutch, Dutch, Story Time

One Year Immigrant Anniversary

Oh boy I’m writing my first blog after two months of incredibly hard work. I have so much I want to share and not all of it is related to the house for those who couldn’t care less about the renovations, fret not I have other content heading your way. We just need to build our office desk so I can just sit and pump out work left and right. That came out wrong. Did it? Am I just over sensitive because I have to relearn how I write blogs? But anyway you’ve seen the title so you know what this blog is about but let me do the introduction and build myself up to it. Seriously how did I write blogs before?

The second of June has been a special day to me these last few years. The man of my dreams, my husband, birthday is on that day. So back in May 2017, we received my VISA. After getting the acceptance letter we had to wait two weeks as my approval didn’t show up in the system and we couldn’t get the stamp in my passport before it finally showed up. My big goal was to arrive before Onno’s birthday as the perfect birthday present because let’s face it his future wife being there for his birthday without ever having to leave again is a pretty good present. Things managed to work out and I landed on his birthday last year. So it’s safe to say that on Saturday we had a lot to celebrate. Added to the list of things to celebrate we had our first week in the house which still feels unreal. I worked incredibly hard this last week to unpack almost everything so the house could feel more like the home by Saturday.

We woke up bright and early to Speculoos running into the bedroom and jumping on the bed with his packet of treats. Treats he jumped up on the bookcase to get to. Treats that if he eats to much of he gets the runs. Hence why I put it in high places I thought he wouldn’t be able to reach. After Onno chased Speculoos down the stairs to get his treats, while he was downstairs he made me cup of tea because he is just that great. I do need to add I sang happy birthday to him six times. I’m incredibly tone deaf so it borderlines on torture. While we had our breakfast in bed my dad called and sang happy birthday in the same tone deaf brilliance that I inherited from him.  After the phone call Onno and I went downstairs to bake the milktart (a South African delight that Onno loves) before attempting to work on some small things around the house. After about an hour a nap was in order to restore the balance in the universe. A few hours later we resurfaced to get back to work. I once again sang to Onno till he left the bedroom to escape my brilliance. We very slowly got to work on the small things left to do in the house, mainly putting up a storage space on top of the washing machine and putting up the last bit of handles in the kitchen (a hole needed to be drilled in before we could put the handles on). While I started preparing the pork roast Onno finished the mini bookcase in the office. We stopped there for the day well it’s his birthday we can’t work the entire day. It was a nice day. We got some work done around the house, we relaxed and watched our favorite series together on the couch like the good old times and then enjoyed an incredibly delicious pork roast meal followed by dessert. We ended our night with a bubble bath, boy oh boy our bath in the new house is magical.

Honestly it still blows my mind that I’m living in the Netherlands now permanently. I’ve never been here for one year straight without going back to South Africa. Onno and I never had one uninterrupted year together. This last year was a crazy whirlwind of emotions, 2018 being the roughest emotional roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on, but I’m so incredibly happy to be with him. I’ve said incredibly a lot in this blog post. No idea where that is coming from. But anyway back to the blog; a year ago I never would’ve imagined where we are today and I’m just so excited to see what the next year will bring us. I have no idea where I’m going with this. I’m mainly just so happy, overwhelmed, emotionally unstable, tired, blessed and so much more.

A quick little side note before I end the blog (I really need to get back to work. We’re building our office desk today.) I failed the speaking part of my Dutch as a second language test AGAIN. It’s so incredibly frustrating. This time I failed with 9 points. Come on man throw a girl a bone! Anyway I will attempt another round later this year as well as starting to prepare for my immigration test (I have another two years to do that but who knows how easy that will go down). I’m also going to start the process of getting my driver’s license. Unfortunately my South African drivers license doesn’t mean shit here so I have to redo the entire process (yes I’m still butt hurt about this fact). We really needed me being allowed to drive when we moved and now that we live in a smaller ‘city’ further away from everything, we really need a car. Onno is going to do most of the driving but who knows, I might want to use it every now and again. I haven’t looked into it too much but hopefully I can scratch it of the list this year.

Alright that’s it for the blog. I’m sorry that I’m all over the place. I wish there was more I could say about my one year as an immigrant anniversary (boy that’s an uncomfortable mouthful) but honestly we just ate, slept and worked on the house all day. Nothing special. I’m sorry for being absent so long, I really tried my utmost best to avoid it from happening but the renovations was full of surprises and I just couldn’t keep up with everything. It also didn’t help that throughout these last two months I’ve had some big dentist appointments (read actual torture) but I have three more appointments to go before I’m almost done for the year. And by almost done I mean I have to get two teeth implanted and that’s going to take another few months before the gums are healed enough. Hopefully it will go into next year because honey I’m so drained. So much pain. So tired. Anyway I’m going of track. I will be back to my regular updates moving forward with a lot of exciting things coming up. I will start sharing some house related DIY projects soon, but other than that…I’M BACK!

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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PS. For those who is reading The Girl Writing In The Train, a new chapter will only be up near the end of June or beginning of July. I want to catch up with my blogs before I return to my creative writing. I can’t get into the flow of things when I feel like I’m behind on the blog aspect of my website if that even makes sense. I hope you will understand.

Dutch

My Attempt At Being A Tour Guide In Amsterdam

If there is only one thing you should know about me is that I’m very much in tune with my sense of direction…in South Africa. In the Netherlands, well let’s just say it’s takes me some time before I figure out what direction is what. I’m not kidding. What I think is the right way is NEVER the actual way. Here is a prime example of my brilliant sense of direction in the small and flat country.

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Here is the full caption that I posted with the picture. The sun is shining here in the Netherlands and I decided to somehow find my way to one of my favorite parks I always go to with Onno. Yeah it didn’t exactly go according to plan, swipe right and you will see my attempt. The fact that I tripped over my laces on my way out of the apartment should’ve been a foresight but it doesn’t end there. Oh no my foot slipped on the petals (three times) and the first time (because the seat was still too high) I lost my balance and gracefully fell over. In front of the central station, in the middle of the day…in the holiday period. Yeah people saw. Someone even asked me if I’m okay. I just felt the need to reassure them and myself that I’m not a complete amateur and I know how to bicycle. And as I was trying to find the road to the park I somehow circled back to the station twice till I found the Museum park which wasn’t even that pleasant because it’s packed with screaming kids and I’m an old fart that likes to read in parks. I’m back home, licking my wounds and playing with Speculoos (I then proceeded to tag my cat’s Instagram page. Cringe.)

What is your point women? Well basically I don’t know where the hell I’m going in this country most of the time (well I’m quite good in Rotterdam because I lived here for long enough but take me off my route and I’m lost) so picturing me as a tour guide is laughable. Where are you going with this? Well give me some time. I’m writing a blog for the first time in over a month. Like how do I open a word document? Where is J on the keyboard? Does auto correct still work? Does the internet on my laptop even still work? Is my blog still a thing?

Jokes aside, let me just get to the point. It’s 10pm and I’ve worked on the house the entire day and my brain is losing its ability to put words into functional sentences. I’m not even sure if I’m writing English right now. Oh lord imagine future Cassy trying to edit this blog tomorrow so it can go up on Monday and be like what the fuck?

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Wait what? What the hell past Cassy?

Okay enough fooling around. For real now. My father’s girlfriend did a European cruise through Italy, Spain, England, Portugal (maybe France?) and the cruise ship made a little pit stop in Amsterdam for the day. I’ve heard so much of her these last few months and was dying to meet her so I took the day off from renovations and went through to meet her and her family. We exchanged gifts and her family members met us at the cruise terminal soon after I arrived. Oh wait you need to know this story. I will get to my day as a tour guide through Amsterdam soon.

So South Africans are known to have a really hard time with going to England. I’m not even kidding. The travel agency told all the South Africans going on this trip that they wouldn’t have to apply for the British VISA as they won’t be leaving the ship on the day it’s stationed there. As this would save a lot of money and time they obviously took the agency’s word for it…Well they flew to the start of the cruise and was denied access to the boat because of this and over 30 South Africans were abandoned. This obviously ruined a lot of holidays for a lot of people. It’s disgusting really. Some of these people have saved for years to do this trip and because of the agency they get abandoned in a foreign country? Unfortunately my father’s girlfriend, Althea not Anthea (my dad got her name wrong and kept calling her Anthea and now it’s a funny joke) family was one of them. Three adults and one child were stranded. They managed to make a bad situation into a good one by still exploring some of the other European countries and met up with us in Amsterdam as they could join the cruise from there.

Okay back to my tour guide story. We started off at the central station and walked through the city center, making a pit stop at Primark because hello it’s Primark, before walking further into the bustling city on the hot day. We headed to the Museum park before taking a break at a small café on the side of a canal. We ended our day with a hour long canal cruise. That’s it folks. Hey I never said I was a good tour guide and there really wasn’t a lot of time to go far and show more of Amsterdam. Wait we did stop to buy cheese and take a picture of a flower decorated bicycle. Oh and we did stop at a little church in a side street. That’s about it. Nothing super fancy. Well that was unsatisfactory.

I had a great day though. I met my father’s soul mate and I can take great comfort in the fact that Althea truly loves and cares for my father. Yeah that’s about it. I’m sorry this blog isn’t that exciting but it’s now 10:30pm and I really can’t think of a fun way to milk out this tour. Maybe, it’s a miracle I didn’t burst into flames in the church? Well that’s a bad and untactful joke. Let me think of something else…we nearly got killed by a hot dog truck? Well not really. The guy came up to us and asked us to get out of the way while his buddy drove into the little area to park the truck. Heck when I say drive, he barely moved forward. Okay so that’s not anything juicy. Let me think…Okay there is honestly nothing. It was just a nice day out, getting to know each other and just walking through the city.

Before I go, here is a link to a proper website about tourist attractions in Amsterdam — http://www.netherlands-tourism.com/things-amsterdam-ultimate-top-50/

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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PS. I apologize for the lack of updates these last few blog days. Some things at the house took longer than what we thought so there honestly wasn’t any time to write. I will make up for it by basically low key, well not even low key, spamming you all with everything renovations related once we’re moved in. I also have a lot of great ideas that’s not related to the fact that we bought a house. I’m so excited to write them all. If I wasn’t struggling to keep my eyes open I would be writing them now.

Celiac Disease, General Life Tips, Nutrition Tips

Traveling With Celiac Disease | How To Stay Gluten Free On Your Travels

So the one thing I hate about traveling is trying to figure out how I’m going to eat without getting sick. It’s not always easy and the fact that I can’t go out and try all the native meals which really sucks but there is no use crying over spilt milk. You just have to clean it and go on with your day. That’s all I can really say. Sometimes it can really suck to have celiac disease. Now I don’t travel a lot and when I do travel I have to think about quite a few things before I do so like what am I going to eat and how am I going to eat? Pretty standard if you ask me. Here is my tips on the matter.

  1. A Place With A Kitchen

First things first you need to stay at a place where you have access to a kitchen to cook your own meals. I know that doesn’t scream oh I’m on holiday but it’s better than being in so much pain and unable to enjoy your holiday because you got gluten in your system. I learned this one the hard way.

  1. Bring The Basics With

This one is pretty hand in hand with number one but I felt like I should milk this at least have enough to write for five tips. It’s super important to bring the basics with you on your trip. Shelf foods if you catch my drift. Pastas, rice, bread, sauce and etc. It’s no guarantee that the closest supermarket will have any gluten free foods so it’s better to be prepared. Here is an example of what I packed in when we went to Greece. I packed in enough food for the two of us as most holiday places to stay at kitchen is pretty basic so there isn’t an option of cooking pasta’s separate and etc. So it looked like a lot but it did come in handy and whatever is left you can always bring back home.

Sorry that this picture is so shit in quality. I had to screenshot from my Instagram. The original picture is long deleted.

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  1. Do your research

Doing your research before going on your trip can really save the day. See what restaurants you can find close to your hotel and how many of them have gluten free options. Now don’t expect a long list heck you will feel lucky to find one but you can contact them before going on the trip and ask if they can help you. There is still foods that’s naturally gluten free and if prepared right then you have no problems. I can’t promise that there will be something for you but it’s worth to look into. Unfortunately it’s just one of those things.

  1. Accept your fate

This sounds pretty horrible and even if you really try there is still a chance that you will get glutened. The best way to avoid it is to cook all of your meals and bring enough basics with so you only have to rely on vegetables and meat. But it can still slip through so be prepared for that. Take what normally helps ease the pain, I have a hot water sack that I hold against my belly when the stomach pain is really bad. It’s the only thing I have to ease the pain but maybe you have other things that helps you.

  1. Another tip that I can’t think off

Damn I really want five tips but I honestly can’t think of another tip sooooo let’s just act like I have another tip to share. Wait I have a tip! Just try to enjoy your trip and don’t be too hard on yourself. Although you didn’t need me to tell you that.

I hope this was helpful to someone. Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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