23 March 2007

Expat reflection

A fun expat tag I got from Reluctant Nomad.

Name 5 things you love in your new country:

* The beauty of the canals and the architecture. Before I moved to Amsterdam, I downloaded an "Amsterdam sites" screen saver and used to sit and watch it for long stretches, dreaming of the day I'd be able to see those streets anytime I wanted to. That thrill has never left.
* The huge international community that continues to teach me and amaze me.
* The markets. I never really did markets before I moved here. I don't go as often as I should, but there's nothing like buying a fresh, organic dinner direct from the farmers and cooking it later in the day.
* My bicycle. Well now, bicycles. I have an "omafiets" for city riding and a rockin' sportier version for long country stretches. It makes me feel like I'm a little kid again.
* The film festivals.

Name 4 things that you miss from your native country:

* My friends and family. Being around people that I'm totally comfortable around, that have known me my whole life and love me for who I used to be as well as who I am.
* Fitting in. Being able to talk to cashiers, people on the streets, or strangers in the park without getting an odd look and having to go through the whole "where are you from what are you doing here" routine.
* The sun, the trees, the (seemingly) continuous blue sky.
* The frozen pizza.

Name 3 things that annoy you a bit (or much) in your new country:

* The mentality. People that swim in superiority, mind-blowing stubbornness in adhering to senseless rules, and an inability to self-reflect. (Generalizations, I know. And I'm allowed because this is my blog and I'm in a bad mood).
* The bureaucracy. All of the above except now it relates to legal matters, which is a much more dangerous arena then say, arguing about where you can lock your bike.
* The pigeons. As far as I know, pigeons haven't invaded Minnesota. Yet.

Name 2 things that surprise you (or surprised you in the beginning) in your new country:

* How much the Netherlands (and many other countries) has been invaded by American culture.
* The total availability of things previously "forbidden" - drugs, prostitution, spectacularly wild parties running into the morning after. It showed me how uninteresting most of this actually is, and how calm I actually am.

Name 1 thing that you would miss terribly in your new country, if you had to leave it:

* The routines I've grown to love - meeting good friends in familiar places, getting my hair cut by Helmer, teaching. I'm a big fan of pleasant routine. But the good thing about routine is it can be created anywhere.

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