Back in the Netherlands

It’s Friday morning and I’m almost back home for a week now. I’m hesitant to call it home, because I’m not sure where that exactly is. For now I’m living here, so I guess I can call it home for the time being. The other day I was thinking about how I miss the writing when I’m here. It’s just that here in Utrecht is my ‘normal’ life and that it feels less adventurous, not giving me as much creative input for writing as when I’m traveling. Nevertheless, I want to do an attempt to write about my first week back.
Last Friday while landing in the Netherlands I saw the dutch towns and cities mainly surrounded by farmland. Instantly I felt the apathy of being back. Don’t get me wrong, the Netherlands is a comfortable country to live and there is a lot to be thankful for. I realize that we have it pretty good here, but I can’t help missing the mountains, outstretched landscapes and diversity of America. Here most houses look the same and everything is smaller. There is no wild nature, and most of the country is either build with houses or farmland.
Despite that lack of excitement to be back, I’m actually fine to be here again for a while. Traveling is often intense and I like the comfort of being back to the usual for a while and I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. After we’ve landed I walk to the baggage belts and it’s easy as always. Going through customs goes quite easy with a Dutch passport. The line for the international passports is a lot longer. It takes a while for the suitcases to arrive, but I’m glad when I have my three big checked bags on a cart and walk to the exit. When the doors open, I’m surprised by my mom and my friend Melissa waiting for me. I’m welcomed with big hugs and then we walk a restaurant for lunch. It’s nice to catch up and fun to see how excited mom is for me to be back. I’m thinking to myself that it’s been only six weeks, but of course I also enjoy seeing her and my friend again. It’s actually a nice surprise not to be alone here at the airport. We stay at the airport for a while and then take the train to Utrecht, which is only about half an hour and wait there for my mom’s train back to Groningen. When my mom is on her train, Melissa and I take the bus to my house to drop off my luggage. When I open the door to my room, I’m happy to see the familiar scene. I love seeing my big bookcase and my bed. My room is small, but it has most the things I need and despite the big amount of things, it’s quite neat.
Since the weather is nice, we walk to the city and get an Italian gelato. That’s one of the few things you don’t find easily in America. We also do some groceries and it’s funny for me to see the tiny supermarket here, probably a tenth of the size of a Walmart or Costco in America. I also notice again how extremely busy it is here in the city. Everywhere are people. Of course there are a lot more people in the United States, but because everything is bigger there, it just feels more relaxed. In the Netherlands there are too many people cramped on a small piece of land. The feeling is comparable to walking in New York, minus the skyscrapers of course.
I also notice all the bikes here. That’s normal in the Netherlands, but if you haven’t seen it for several weeks, you suddenly realize how many there are. There are more bikes than cars in the city and they’re everywhere.
In the weekend I go to the gym early in the mornings and it feels great to work out again. I take it easy with light weights to give my body time to readjust, but nevertheless I enjoy breaking a sweat. It’s nice to be back at the gym and during the week several people walk up to me, welcoming be back. Even people that I haven’t spoken with before ask me where I was and it feels nice to have been missed. I’m thankful for our little gym community.
The rest of Saturday and Sunday I take it easy, unpacking my bags and getting a coffee at Starbucks, one of the most American places in the city. The jet lag isn’t too bad and I’m hoping that maybe this time I actually can skip it. That of course is a bit naive and on Monday I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. That repeats itself during the following nights, leaving me very tired in the days. I take it easy and just work half days. It helps that a lot of clients are still on vacation, so the workload is still manageable. I also didn’t plan any meetings this week, so that helps as well. In the afternoons I go for walks and bike rides, the weather is nice for that. I also try to find some coffee places in the city where I haven’t been before to keep the sense of adventure a little bit.
I keep a few things that I learned on this vacation. For lunch I now make healthy smoothies like my friend Josh has taught me and on Tuesday night I make tacos like my grandma taught me. I like how you can learn something new from each journey and can take that home with you.
And now I’m back for almost a week. When I look at the vacation pictures it almost feels like a dream. It’s such a different world out there. I’m thankful though that it really happened. I do miss the nature and people out there, but also want to make the most of being here again. Often when I’m in America and talk with my friends there, I realize that I haven’t seen so much of Europe and how it would be quite easy to travel around here to several countries. Maybe that’s something I’ll do in the coming time. For now it’s first a matter of getting back into the home routine. Like a friend taught me a long time ago: Work, Save, Travel, Repeat. That still sounds like a good approach to life for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *