Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yes, I am an Expat!

It was about two and a half years ago that Andrew and I started talking about him trying to get a job overseas. At the time I was still working as a 911 dispatcher and I was still going through treatment for a brain injury I had endured in August 2010. When I started talking about it with my family and friends there was a mix of feelings and opinions. Some thought we were nuts to even consider it and others thought it could be the opportunity of a lifetime.

After months of discussion we decided that Andrew should apply for a position and see what happened, and we would take it from there. It went back and forth for a few months with his company and finally everything seemed to fall into place for us to move to The Netherlands.

During that time, one of my coworkers asked me if I would be considered an 'expat'. I, having never heard that term before, replied that I had no idea!  So, I looked it up!

Via Wikipedia:

An expatriate (sometimes shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person's upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex ("out of") and patria ("country, fatherland").
In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals or skilled workers sent abroad by their companies,[1] rather than for all 'immigrants' or 'migrant workers'. The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilledprofessionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an 'immigrant' or 'migrant worker'.
There is no set definition and usage varies with context, for example the same person may be seen as an "expatriate" by his home country and a "migrant worker" where he works. Retirement abroad, in contrast, usually makes one an "expatriate".

By definition, I am an expat. As my friend has told me, I have been blessed to now be able to call two countries "home"!!!  

Monday, January 13, 2014

A drive up north to Friesland (Fryslân) , Netherlands

The past couple of weeks I have kept busy with keeping the house up and starting my sewing projects. I bought some material and I'm making shopping bags. For now, I am 'winging it' with the design...we'll see how that goes!  I want to be sure they're small enough to roll up and carry around, yet when unfolded large enough to carry over the shoulder and strong enough to carry everything!

We also received a note from Andrew's son saying he will be between jobs soon and will be able to visit us in the near future! We are soooo excited! We talked to him on the phone via Skype and made tentative plans. Then we conversed via e-mail and Facebook and we booked tickets for him to travel to Europe to visit his step-brother in Germany and then he will come to stay with us for a week and a half!

This past weekend Andrew and I hung around the house on Saturday. We took Sammy for a nice long walk and then had an early dinner at our favorite restaurant: Woodstone in the Raaks area of town.

On Sunday we decided to drive over the Afsluitdijk to Friesland, Netherlands, which is part of the ancient area of Frisia.

After calculating the distance with google maps, we set out in the car. In the GPS we entered the town of Den Oever to ensure we would get the most direct route to the dike.

Via Wikipedia:

The Afsluitdijk (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑf.slœyd.ˌdɛik]FrisianOfslútdyk; English: Enclosure Dam) is a major causeway in theNetherlands, constructed between 1927 and 1933 and running from Den Oever on Wieringen in North Holland province, to the village of Zurich in Friesland province, over a length of 32 kilometres (20 mi) and a width of 90 m, at an initial height of 7.25 m above sea-level.
It is a fundamental part of the larger Zuiderzee Works, damming off the Zuiderzee, a salt water inlet of the North Sea, and turning it into the fresh water lake of the IJsselmeer

 Architect: Cornelis Lely
On the Afsluitdijk there is also a gas station, which can be reached from either direction!

After crossing, we entered the name of the town we wanted to visit first: Makkum. What a quaint little town. Knowing beforehand that most places would be closed because it was Sunday, we decided to just walk around town.

 We were fortunate to find an open restaurant where we had a nice lunch...

After lunch we got back in the car and headed to our next destination: Hindeloopen.

Hindeloopen is one of the towns which is included in the Eleven Cities for the Elfstedentocht.
From Wikipedia:

The Elfstedentocht [ɛɫf'steːdə(n)tɔxt] (West FrisianÂlvestêdetochtEnglishEleven cities tour), is an almost 200 kilometres (120 mi) long skating tour which is held both as a speed skating match (with 300 contestants) and a leisure tour (with 16,000 skaters). It is held in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, leading past all eleven historical cities of the province. The tour is held at most once a year, only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 in) thick;,[1] sometimes on consecutive years, other times with gaps that may exceed 20 years. When the ice is suitable, the tour is announced and starts within 48 hours.

We parked the car near the marina...

 Then headed to the center of town...

 There is a dike protecting the town from the sea...
 We saw some gravestones from Canadian and Australian soldiers who had fought in WWII.
 Most of the signs were in two languages, Dutch and Frisian:

 We stopped at what we thought was a little restaurant for something sweet and a cup of coffee....

 We were pleasantly surprised to discover that there is a beautiful shop in the back of the restaurant and a very nice skating museum (Het Eerst Friese Schaatsmuseum

 The owner does all the painting!

 We bought a few items.....a pair of skates, and hanger for them and an old coal container which has been painted!  There is a definite Scandinavian influence in the region.

We were leaving town as the sun was setting. We don't get to see the sunsets very often in Haarlem because of all the we really enjoyed the site!

What a nice relaxing weekend!