Gobsmacked!

Me at Castel Muiderslot

Greetings from the Netherlands!

It has been some time since I thought about my blog much less visited it and I am truly gobsmacked at the amount of dots on my cluster map. (Gobsmacked–one of my favorite terms from a guilty pleasure of mine, the British soap “Eastenders.” It means astounded, amazed–you get the picture.) I can’t believe that so many people would read my little blog. A blog I had practically abandoned.

Well, for those who might be interested, I will give an update on my life. Sorry, I don’t have a lot to say about technology in education at the moment since I’m not really in the field and my life has been so full of other kinds of experiences. Sorry to disappoint if you were expecting techie stuff.

I left you at the end of the school year with my explanation for leaving. June was a very busy month of packing, weeding through my belongings to get rid of a lot of things, having yard sales, and showing my house in an attempt to sell it. Oh, and I also sold my Honda (ack!) and spent the rest of my time in the States driving my mother’s Toyota Corolla.

With the help of my very good friends and my sister, I was able to move out in early July with my 2 cats, 2 oversized and near bursting suitcases, a rolling carry-on (also stuffed), and an equally stuffed laptop shoulder bag with my 17″ HP. I left 15 boxes in my living room that were shipped to Europe in September. In those boxes were my most precious belongings that I could not or would not sell or give away.

I moved in with my parents and sister. I became a full-time caregiver for my mother and wore many hats in the household as I tried to meet all sorts of needs. My father and sister worked full-time outside the home so there were a lot of things that needed doing. Those months with my family were some of THE most trying of my life but I learned a lot about myself and my family. I was able to care for my mother during the most difficult part of her home stay. By the time I left, my father and sister were able to take over her care along with the help of an aid who came daily to be with my mother.

I moved to the Netherlands on September 17, 2008 and life has been one big adventure ever since. About the flight itself, I will only say that if you live in a city with a direct flight to Amsterdam, you should sincerely thank God. There is no direct flight to Amsterdam from any airport in North Carolina so I had two legs with a rolling carry-on, a laptop bag and a cat carrier (one of my cats had to fly with me in the plane since the first flight was on a small airplane and bags are checked all the way through, only one cat could fly in cargo) to contend with. We all arrived at our destination relatively unscathed but somewhat exhausted.

Since my arrival, I have had a lot to get used to. Shopping every couple of days because food here is a lotstrippenkaart fresher, learning Dutch (although thankfully many people here speak English), living without cable/Internet/phone in my home (because until I got my residence permit I couldn’t open a bank account which meant no other kinds of accounts either), walking a lot more, and using public transportation (the strip system was kind of tricky at first–umm…OK, let me clarify: the most common way to travel on public transport is to buy a “strippenkart”, a long ticket with “strips” or places for the conductor to put a stamp indicating what time you entered the tram/bus, date, and what zone of the city you boarded.) As the holidays approached I have become increasingly homesick for friends and family. While I have made friends here, I still miss the familiar faces of those I know and love. This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family ever and I was very depressed about it.

On the home front though, my mom’s health is progressively getting better. Her care is a lot less demanding as she heals which I am glad for. It was very hard to leave her, knowing what she required on a daily basis but my father and sister have really done well from what I understand.

My current status is that I have my residence permit and am currently looking for a job. I am renting my house to tenants with an option to buy it which I hope they do at the end of the contract. It is cold here compared to the balmy temps of coastal North Carolina and I’ve seen more snow in the last week than I’ve seen in the last 15 years in NC. It does seem to melt before sunrise but it’s pretty to watch when it falls.

I will try to write a little more often. My next post will be about the technology I’ve seen in use here so far.

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