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Myths and Expectations -- Expat Blog Hop #2

By Clogsandtulips @clogsandtulips
Myths and Expectations -- Expat Blog Hop #2 Myths and Expectations -- Expat Blog Hop #2 Myths and Expectations -- Expat Blog Hop #2Tales from Windmill Fields has started an Expat Blog Hop. Each week, she asks expat bloggers a question that they then compose a post about before linking back to Tales from Windmill Fields to share with fellow expats.
A new topic is given to bloggers each Friday and the posts are published each Thursday. As my blogging schedule is MWF, my posts will be coming in on Fridays.
This week's question: Before you moved to the country you are in now, what expectations, ideas, (things you thought happened, things people did, etc) did you have then, that proved to be not true at all?
To be honest, I knew shockingly little about the Netherlands before meeting my now-husband while he was vacationing in the US. Really, I didn't know anything other than it is in Europe.
Our year-long online and in-person courtship taught me a lot, so there was little that I was unprepared for or that caught me by surprise.
I did have two expectations (not so much about the Netherlands or the Dutch) that I went into my move with that were quickly dispelled.
Number one: I'm going to hate cycling.
I could not imagine getting around without a car. I did so much driving in the US that I practically lived in my car.
My harp teacher lived 45 minutes away, so I make that trek each week for lessons. The city was a good 20 minutes, so any time I wanted to go out or go shopping or when I needed to get to my jobs at Bath and Body Works, Dance Unlimited and My Gym, I'd have to drive. I commuted 30 minutes each way to get the the school I was teaching at. My life as a performer had me making journies of 20-90 minutes several times each week. The airport was a 60 minute drive, my parent's boat 75 minutes, my father's family lives 8 hours away... I've even driven from Florida to Maryland non-stop in a day.
When it rained, I took the car. When it snowed, I took the car. When it hailed, sleeted or sweltering hot, I took the car.
The idea of biking at all (much less in all the elements) was just unfathomable. I just knew it would be disasterously inconvenient and that I would hate it.
On the contrary, I love it. Sometimes I'll take the bus or car or tram or metro or train, but 90% of the time my preference is the bike.
Since turning 16, I've been through three cars and not one of them had a name. I had christened my bike in less than a week. Cycling is so convenient and relaxing and freeing and fun. Cars now make me feel too confined. I don't enjoy driving like I used to. I do enjoy cycling.
Number Two: I'm going to be the only foreigner.
I had only met one other person in my situation. She had gone to live with her overseas love in Ireland and hated it. All her stories included how terrible everyone was to her, how out of place she felt and how miserable she felt. I was terrified.
But at least she went to a country where they predominately spoke English. I was afraid I'd be lost in translation, that I'd end up hiding away in our apartment, too afraid to go out. I was terrified that I'd never make any friends and that no one would know how it felt to be in my predicament.
Boy was I wrong. A friend of my husband's is married to a Canadian, who immediately tuned me in to the International Women's Contact Utrecht (IWCU). A colleague of his is from Austria and holds annual international ladies get-togethers. She invited me through my husband and I made even more contacts.
Immediately upon arrival I signed up for Dutch language classes, where all of my classmates were foreigners. I met my best friend at that class.
As for Dutch friends, they've been harder to make, but I've made some. and not just my husband's friends either. The language has not stopped me from living my life. I can still do everything I did in the US. Of course, it's not as easy as doing it in English, but that will come with time.
I'll never forget my first IWCU event. It was a coffee meet-up and everyone was so kind and warm. The ladies told me where to find items I missed from home and gave me contacts and tips for getting involved in some of the things I enjoyed doing in the US. I instantly felt accepted and so relieved that all these women knew what I was going through.
When I voiced my prior concern that I'd be the only woman who came to the Netherlands for my Dutch guy, the entire table burst into roars of laughter. And I laughed along with them. Because, at that moment, it seemed like the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.

What expectations did you have about the country that you are in right now? Did any of them prove to be true? Or false?
Photo: Search Engine People Blog, Flickr
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