→ What activities or routines do you participate in now, on a daily or regular basis, which you had never done before in your home country? More than one example is great to share about!
I cycle a LOT more now. Pretty much every day. Groceries on a daily basis is also new. Of course there's also the Dutch language thing. Naturally this is one thing I had never done before... especially not on a daily basis. I'm also taking an extensive Dutch course known as inburgering. That happens three days a week for three hours a day. I'm also a business owner - something I probably never would have done if I stayed in the US.
→ If you will be soon or eventually going back to where you came from, do you feel you would be able to reintegrate well, or do you feel there would be difficulty? Please explain why you feel you would or wouldn't be able to get along fine. And would you choose to return to the place where you came from, or would you rather try a new location in your home country? If so, where?
At the moment, we have no concrete plans to do anything really. We'll stay here as long as we're happy and go wherever our lives take us if and when it's time to move on. I think, at this point, it would be extremely difficult for me to readjust to life if we moved back to the States. Personality-wise, I fit in better here and there are so many aspects of the culture I have grown to adore that I would miss them terribly. I've also become quite spoiled by vacation days and healthcare and don't plan on giving those up so easily. It might be interesting to try France or the UK. I've spent time in both of those countries and really enjoyed them. I think it would be fun to live in either one for a spell (though I'd have to brush up on my French first)! If we were to go back to the US, I would just love love love to live in New York City. No matter where I go or what I see, it has always been - and I'm sure always will be - my favorite place in the world.
→ Will you be living in the country where you are an expat for the rest of your life? For example, after you no longer need to be living abroad, if this is your situation, would you choose to remain in your host country? Or would you prefer to go back to where you came from?
Again, it depends on where we are in our lives and what makes sense for us as a couple. I think it would be fun to live somewhere else before returning State-side though. Things change and people change, so who knows where we'll end up!
→ Name at least one thing you had assumed/stereotyped about the culture and/or lifestyle of the citizens before you came to the country abroad where you are living? And if you were to now explain how you feel about these same assumption, would you say your assumption was correct? Or do you feel differently, after witnessing for yourself? Feel free to explain what you now think or how you now feel about this.
To be honest, I knew so little about the Dutch and The Netherlands. My husband was, in fact, the first Dutch person I had ever met and my first time in The Netherlands was the first time I came to visit him. I'm actually ashamed that in all my schooling in the US I learned absolutely nothing about The Netherlands. Given the ties and connections between the countries, there's really no excuse for this. I think the Dutch are very liberal and open-minded. The government takes care of it's people, but the bureaucracy is the shambles. They're an outdoorsy, sturdy people who adore the sun and are attached to their bikes. And I've never seen anyone wearing clogs!
→ Do you have experience living in other foreign countries beside the host country where you live currently? If so, please share differences in the culture you've experienced going from your home country to the other host country, as well as differences you've experienced upon coming to your current host country?
I stayed in France for about a month with friends and did a three month study abroad in London at the British American Drama Academy. The first was for such a short time and I was with my "second family", so it wasn't really a big deal. I got to follow a French student to school and shop at the markets and speak French with the locals. The second experience was a bit different as it was mostly an American experience. I did get a good dose of British teaching tactics ("Well done, you!").
→ What leads you to be abroad? Is it due to love, or do you have completely different circumstances? And if this is the case for you, did you get to choose the Netherlands? If so, why? Each of us has a different story, and I feel this is interesting for us all to share.
My husband is Dutch. We met through mutual friends while he was on vacation in the US. So The Netherlands actually chose me. You can read more about our story here.
→ Select one or more of the following and share, if you wish, about your thoughts on this. When you return to visit your home country, do you:
A. Find yourself surprised by how things have changed while you were away? I haven't really noticed a change at all. But then, I've only been away for a year and a half.→ And one last question, for those who are no longer expats: Have you already moved back to your home country? If so, have you experienced re-entry or reverse culture shock [definition of this here]? This does not apply to me, but if it does to you, please answer the question in a comment or do this Meme for yourself and link back to it! In the meanwhile, here's a report I did recently on Culture Shock in The Netherlands for Expat Exchange.
B. Explore areas where you grew up [to see how it's changed; visit friends & favorite former hangouts]? Not yet, but as my 10 year highschool reunion is coming up, I will do soon!
C. Feel you have more knowledge and/or experience in, for example, worldly issues/topics? Absolutely. I know more about other cultures, I know more about Europe and I feel like I understand people better. I've seen my country and my people through other eyes and there is very little that can be more eye-opening than that.
D. Feel personally or more culturally enriched by your experience[s] living abroad? I do. I feel more empowered and self-sufficient. And by exploring the cultures of others and getting a better look at your own, you can only grow.
E. Ever find yourself explaining how the stereotypes of your own and/or your host country are not true? Actually, I sadly always have to be reminded by fellow Americans that the stereotypes of my own country are not always true. I'm continually explaining the ridiculousness of the stereotypes Americans have of the Netherlands are not always true.
F. Find your political beliefs have changed? Nope. Just strengthened!
If you do this meme, please let me know in the comments and link to me, as I'd love to read what you have to share and believe your answers will too be helpful for other expats or future expats.
All this talk about Memes make me think about interviews. And speaking of interviews, I will be running a series of Expat Interviews here on Clogs and Tulips beginning in June. If you're interested in participating, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.