It’s been a little over a month since I arrived in the Netherlands and already there is so much that I’ve learned about myself that I never would have realized had I not been jolted by culture shock. Traveling has always been an exciting part of my life and something that I can never seem to get enough of, more like an addiction than an interest. I don’t fear being homesick or moving from place to place, traveling alone most of the time. When I was 17, I went to work in Colorado for a little over 2 and a half months and that experience was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I found my love of the outdoors and felt a freedom that I had never felt before. I met people that changed my life and am forever grateful for those friendships.
I thought coming to Amsterdam I would have a similar experience of creating a new sense of home with ease. Things were a bit tougher than expected and I’d experienced my first homesick thoughts. While watching Garden State the other night with some friends the other night gave me some perspective on what exactly it was that I was missing. Theres a point in the movie when the concept of what “home” is, is discussed. There’s a point at which you leave your parents house, the house you grew up in, or the place you considered home as a child when it doesn’t really feel like home when you go back. I’ve experienced this feeling the past year when coming home from school multiple times. I looked forward so much to going home but when I got there it really didn’t feel like my home anymore. I’d be happy to see family and old friends, but being in the actual place never that same feeling of when I had always lived there. It occurred to me that “home” for me is the people, not the place. If I were to go back to NC right now, it would satisfy me for a couple days but the familiarity of smiles, american accents, and love from people I care about the most is the best part of home.
I’m usually awful about keeping into contact with people when I’m away in a new place. I can never seem to find what I want to say or I feel selfish talking about all my new experiences. My time in Amsterdam so far has made me realize who is important to me and whenever I talk to these people I feel a sense of “home” again. Freedom and a fresh start are great and exciting. In Amsterdam especially, there are always things to do and the nightlife is incredibly lively. Going out was good for the first couple of weeks, but I’ve found now that it’s the bike rides back at 4 am, dinner & movie nights, and runs through the forest at night that help me reflect on why it is that I chose to move away for a year in the first place. It wasn’t about drinking, partying, or getting out of the US…
I came abroad because I wanted to define myself as a person without the luxury of having a comfort zone. Here, I’ve had to create my own comfort zone by building relationships, establishing new routines, and opening up my mind to be more accepting of other cultures and the differences that accompany them. My family and close friends are my true definition of “home” and it will talk a while to build a second family here in Europe, but I have met amazing people so far that lift me up when I’ve been reminiscing of the things I miss the most.
To my friends and family, I miss you more than I can say and appreciate all of the support I’ve gotten since being here. Knowing that you care to send a little message or say hi every once in a while makes me smile to the point where I am happy all day.
To my new friends, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to creating a new home here in Amsterdam.
Thanks for reading… I’m done with the rambling for now 🙂