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Groeten uit Amsterdam!

September 6, 2011

A little over two weeks ago I wrote in my journal, “I’m moving to Amsterdam in two weeks and I think I might be going clinically insane.”  After settling into this strange village-posing-as-a-city for the past four days, I can safely say that I no longer feel the need to commit myself to a mental health facility.

Though, about every 20 minutes I ask myself “Did I really just move to Amsterdam?” The answer is, obviously always yes, but the reason for asking varies.  About 10% of the time, I’m laying in bed, or totally turned around in a city that looks practically the same everywhere you go, and I’m missing my friends and family and the English language.  But the other 90% of the time, I’m walking around this city sliced to pieces by canals, everything old and crooked and overlapping each other.  It’s during these times that I ask myself that question out of sheer wonder and excitement.

For those who don’t know, I’ll explain why I’m in Amsterdam.  I was hired as an au pair for a lovely couple, Marijke and Behdad.  They have three children: Alex, Noah, and Layla.  I have my own room, in their home (on a canal!).  I think when people hear “au pair,” visions of parents from The Nannie Diaries or some other variation of checked out parents with too much money and no soul come to mind.  Luckily, my experience is quite the opposite.  Marijke and Behdad have been extremely welcoming and I already feel very much at home here.  There was the obligatory awkwardness (you know, like when you see each other in pajamas for the first time or when the kids go bed and do I stay out here or go in my room?) but already I’m feeling quite at ease.  I don’t have many pictures yet, but I’ll post some of my room and house and the kids and neighborhood soon!

These past four days have been mostly dedicated to acclimating to the new time zone (the first 24 hours were the worst!), getting to know the family, and walking around and exploring a bit.  The city itself really shouldn’t function as well as it does.  Bikers, pedestrians, and cars all weave in and out of one another’s path.  There are few to no clear rules of the road and kids sit side saddle on the backs of the bicycles– no one wears helmets.  If you watch and think about it too much you get wrapped up in the chaos, until you realize that this is most well-functioning chaos you’ve ever seen.  Everyone interacts with each other seamlessly, even in their hello’s and goodbye’s.  People are kind here, and not stressed out.  Why should they be?  They’re blonde, beautiful, and somehow very tan (Amsterdam is not a very sunny place).  Not to mention the delicious cheese they  constantly have at their finger tips.  Have you ever met a stressed person with access to the best cheese in the world?  I am already good friends with Niki, the girl that works at the cheese shop.  She is blonde, beautiful, very tan, and knows her cheese.

Thus far my impression of the city and my experience here has been really positive.  I’m still in the honeymoon stage though, and am already missing everyone back home.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing me lament one thing or another at some point in the future.  But I really think I’ll fit in well here.  The neighbors told me I look very Dutch, so my paranoia of sticking out like a soar American everywhere I go is a bit silly.

I’m so looking forward to the rest of this year and excited to be able to take everyone on the journey with me, through the blog, and hope you follow along!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. kathy permalink
    September 6, 2011 7:27 pm

    I knew you could write — but this well??? Wow! Perhaps a book could come out of this adventure. And I never insisted you speed date!!! But it might have been fun! Auntie Kathy

  2. Susie June permalink
    September 6, 2011 10:21 pm

    Sarah, this is fabulous and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I am so proud of you and your writing is so creative and makes you want to hear more. Can’t wait. You go girl!

  3. September 6, 2011 11:26 pm

    Jealous! Hope you’re having a blast! Miss ya STILL!

  4. emrad permalink
    September 7, 2011 3:22 am

    yay! I’m glad you’re liking it. skype soon. I insist.

  5. Jan Nyenhuis permalink
    September 23, 2011 12:37 am

    I know this church. It is the most photographed church in Amsterdam. New Church, ever tho it was build many, many year ago. Rembrandt is buried/memorialized here. After he became famous elsewhere. (We traveled to The Netherlands last fall, only spending one day circum-walking the city!) I am so very excited for you taking this great adventure! I am joining your blog late, it’s Sept. 22, but I promise to keep current.

    Auntie Jan Nyenhuis

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