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So Gezellig

September 18, 2011

There are two words I hear many times a day here.  Both personify Dutch culture quite well, I think.  Lekker and gezellig.  Lekker means tasty or delicious (also applying to someone you think is attractive). It’s obvious why that’s a big word- the Dutch love to eat, especially (if not only) seriously delicious things.  When you sit down to eat, you’ll almost immediately hear someone ask, “Lekker?”  And hopefully everyone will nod and make affirmation noises while they continue to eat.

Gezellig, though, is my favorite word so far.  Technically it means comfortable or cozy.  But it’s really more of a feeling.  You have to be around it’s context to really know when and how to use it.  If you take a vacation back home for Christmas and everything smells like Christmas trees and spiced pumpkins, you would describe that vacation as gezellig.

But it doesn’t always have to do with nostalgia or holidays or anything very special at all- often times it’s used in a more nuanced way. Like, if someone asks if it’s alright if they sit next to you, you could say gezellig- no worries.  It’s sort of like a real life Hakuna Matata, which is a common state of being here.  To me, Amsterdam is gezellig.  I have been welcomed so warmly and so openly. I’m wondering how I’ll ever be able to go back to a reality where people don’t often buy each other flowers for no reason or say passing hellos on bikes.  Where people buy wine to share while they watch their kids at the park together, or where they remember your coffee order and have it waiting for you before you can even sit down.  So many people, upon first meeting me, have told me sincerely to call and ask for help if I need anything at all- big or small.  It’s a great community here.

The people I have met have defined my Amsterdam experience so far. But the aesthetics of my new home have helped to make everything gezellig as well.  So let me take you on a little tour of My Amsterdam:

                       This is the start of my street- Keizersgracht.  The canal is just to the left.  And there’s 786, my home!

Here’s my room, right off the front door of the house.  It’s full of light, even when it’s raining.

I have an attached bathroom so I really have my own little space to myself, which is perfect.  The only thing that would make it even better would be a curtain on my door.  That window makes things feel a little… exposed.  I’ve tried to put scarves and things up but so far the perfect solution has escaped me.  So, being the awesome lady she is, Marijke ordered me a curtain and it should be here any day- which means no more changing in the bathroom or having to get dressed right after the shower.  Yay!

I also have a desk, with very pretty flowers thanks to Ashley- the au pair I took over for.  It will be perfect for writing, should I ever decide to stop going to my favorite coffee place.

The bottom picture is of my back wall.  If I was back home, I’d have no problem filling all the shelves with my book collection.  So far, though I’ve just got a few nick nacks left over from past au pairs, pictures of friends and family, a pretty drawing of Dutch houses Katrina made me, and shoes- which look much better on the shelves than in a pile in the middle of my floor.  There are still a bunch of empty shelves behind my bed that I’m sure will fill up during the year- perhaps with lovely postcards from the States?

Now here’s a peek at the (little) people I’ve come to know and love since moving to Amsterdam:


Alex, Noah, and Layla are who I spend my days and most nights with.  They are imaginative and polite.  They’ve got strong opinions on things like snoepjas before dinner and how much yogurt they like on their cereal.  All three have their own great little personalities and I’m seriously enjoying getting to know each one.

Alex is the sensitive, wise one, Noah is the stubborn comedian, and Layla is the curious observer- for now.  We all like to discuss the new things she’s learning and the fun ways she’s developing out of the newborn stage and into the playful baby stage.  The only thing that’s certain at this point, though, is that she really really really likes to eat people’s faces.  It’s been great getting to care for a baby that’s around my niece’s age.  It’s like I get to keep track of how she’s developing through Layla’s milestones.  And when you’re thousands of miles apart, that’s better than nothing.

Moving to a new continent hasn’t been perfect or easy, and I’m certainly not without some  occasional bouts of homesickness.  But for the most part, everything is so gezellig.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. becky emmett permalink
    September 20, 2011 8:49 pm

    It sounds like you are having an amazing time! We miss you like crazy but we’re well aware we could never compare to the fantastic adventure you are now living. I’ll keep reading and sharing fun tidbits w/ the kids. Keaton wanted to tell you something the other day and I’m awful because I forgot what it was. Whoops!

    • September 20, 2011 9:03 pm

      Haha, I wouldn’t say you could never compare! Moving to Portland was quite the fantastic adventure and you guys were a big part of that 🙂

      If you think of what he said, send it my way! If not, I’ll pretend he said I’m his favorite nanny ever and that he misses my cooking 😉

  2. Jamie permalink
    September 20, 2011 11:50 pm

    Ella misses her auntie, but is so happy that she is happy and having fun in her semi-homeland 🙂 Oh, and Ella loves to eat faces (and grab them/claw at them) right now also.

  3. September 21, 2011 3:19 pm

    I love your bedroom, and your front door, and your sandwiches, and your umbrella pictures 🙂 The kids look adorable–I love the way you write about them like little people with personalities (which, haha, they are!) xoxo

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