Tuesday, July 30, 2013


So, it is Monday, July 30th and I am sitting in a hotel room in Berlin, Germany. Last Friday we flew out of Nashville, had a short stop in Washington DC where we grabbed something to eat and almost missed our flight to Amsterdam because they decided to start boarding the plane early. Thankfully we made it an arrived in Amsterdam the next morning.
My husband's adviser picked us up at the airport and took us to his home in Ulvenhout where we ate, drank coffee, and tried our best to stay awake for as long as we could. That afternoon he took us to Tilburg where we would be staying at a B&B for the next two nights with a pair of wonderful hosts who gave us much advice on adapting to life in the Netherlands. The next day we explored the city and found that we would be living in the middle of the city center near a large number of shops and restaurants and the train station. We purchased Sim cards for our phones and began to feel a bit more human again :-) We spent the rest of the day enjoying Kermis, the largest fair in the Netherlands, watched the funeral procession for the fair that they hold on the last day every year and then enjoyed a fireworks display before heading off to bed. The next morning we enjoyed a breakfast of bread and several spreads that are popular with the Dutch including a curry spread and one called filet Americain in which is made of spices and finely ground raw beef. It was very tasty but we thought it was rather funny that our host served it because she assumed with the name Americain that it must be something we eat in America all the time.
After this we got the keys to our new apartment, repacked our clothes in 20 minutes and headed off to yet another airport to catch a flight to Berlin.
Once we arrived in Berlin things got interesting. At every other airport I have flown into you leave the plane and then head to a central area in the airport to collect your checked luggage. Not so here. At this airport you pick up your luggage at the gate where your plane came in. Not knowing this we left the gate, realized our mistake and then found out that we couldn't go back to get our luggage. A couple of hours later we left the lost baggage office with our luggage and hopped on a bus to a train station where we were to board a train to take us to our hotel. That was the plan, but it took us quite a while to be able to find out where to board our train, luckily we did manage to get to our hotel. Once we got to the hotel the confusion didn't stop. In order to turn on the lights or air conditioning you have to insert your key card into a slot on the wall, this took us a few minutes to figure out.
You might think that all of this confusion has left us with a bad impression but it hasn't at all. The people here are so friendly, so willing to help, so open and jovial that you can't dislike this city. Don't get me wrong, the Dutch people that we have met have been very nice, and their English is so good that they can be easier to communicate with, but it seems that they really have to get to know you before they are willing to joke around and open up. Not so with the Berliners, they are your friend as soon as they meet you.
So to summarize our adventure so far, tiring, exciting, confusing, Sim cards, fair funeral, great and sometimes odd food. We have a ways to go before we can call ourselves Europeans.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to writing?

Some of you may be shocked to see a new blog post from me, after all I have not posted for quite a while. That is all about to change and in the next few weeks I plan on returning to blogging on a regular basis. I apologize in advance.

So why have I not been posting? The biggest reason has been a lack of time. Until very recently I have been working so much that I just didn't have the time or energy to devote to writing. Now I will have the time, and hopefully the energy to get back to it.

So why am I starting back now? The past few weeks have been pretty momentous for me and the next few weeks will continue this trend. In the last month I have quit my job, sold my car, and my father passed away. In the near future I will be moving into a new apartment and looking for new employment, in a city I have never set foot in, which happens to be in a country I have never visited, on a continent I have never seen. You see my husband and myself are moving to a city in the Southern Netherlands where he will be finishing his PhD and I will be finding out how well some of my progressive political beliefs stand up to a real world test. I support marriage equality, universal health care, regulations that protect workers, greater income equality, and the ability for individuals to have control over their own bodies. Now I will be living in a country where these concepts are the law instead of being considered somewhat fringe beliefs as some of them are in the US. This should be an interesting test.

So stay tuned and see how things play out for me, I'm quite interested in finding out myself.