June 1st 2013, it’s 4 am when the alarm goes off. Not sure about my husband, but I’m not ready to wake up. I have to though, we have an early flight to catch. Waking up our 5 year old daughter is even more challenging. When we’re all sort of awake, we grab our suitcases and walk from the hotel to Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). For some reason we can’t print our boarding pass for the second part of our flight, so we’ll have to do that in Frankfurt. That turns out to be easier said than done. We have a one way ticket to Seattle and that is, according to the airline, not possible. We explain that we are immigrating, going to live in Seattle, that we have a visa and really don’t need a return ticket. Though she still doesn’t seem to be convinced, the woman does give us our boarding passes.
It always rains in Seattle they say, but not this summer. The wetter is lovely and the surroundings are beautiful. Coming from the Netherlands which is mostly flat with pastures and water, this is completely different. On a clear day we can see Mt. Rainier majestically watch over the Pacific North West. The woods seem to be exactly like they used to be hundreds of years ago, in contrast to the landscaped forests in the Netherlands. It feels like we’re on vacation.
But there’s no time to sit back and relax yet. We have temporary housing for two months and during that time we will need to find our own place. Where the housing market in the Netherlands is struggling, it’s booming over here. Every day I will be on Craigslist searching for new listings and visiting houses. If you don’t go right away, it will be gone. Still jetlagged I try to find my way around. Spoiled by the great road signs in the Netherlands, I keep getting lost around here. The miles aren’t really helpful either. After 4 years I still keep hoping the US will some day adopt the metric system (one can hope, right?)
Since we don’t know anyone around here and my husband needs to work, I have to take my daughter with me everywhere. Lucky for me, she is an easy child, but even easy going kids can handle only so much boring grown up stuff. Normally I’m not a big fan of too much screen time, but now the virtual nanny is a life saver and even helpful in teaching my daughter some English. Meanwhile I try to find my way around in the supermarket. All the food around is so different from what we’re used to. Even the same things will taste different here. Everything is either much sweeter or saltier than we’re used to. I’d like to know what is in my food, and since everything is different over here, I have to read every single thing I take of the shelf. Try that with a bored 5 year old around.
Also I need to get a WA drivers license within a month of moving here. It’s weird that you can drive your own car during the exam (in the Netherlands you can’t drive your own car during the exam). I take my daughter with me to the exam. Surely they won’t mind her sitting quietly in the back of the car. Well, yeah, they do. The problem is: she might tell me what to do/give me answers!! Not sure what prodigies they’re used to here, but she’s 5!, she doesn’t know anything about traffic. After much debate, they allow her in the car as long as she stays quiet.
When our airfreight crate with stuff arrives, it feels a little bit like Christmas. Most of it are toys for our daughter. She needs it, those first months are hard on her. School doesn’t start until September, both me and my husband are occupied with things that need to be taken care of and she doesn’t have any friends. Hell, she doesn’t even speak English. I’m glad we have skype, because that relieves her pain a little. But when I find her in her closet, crying while skyping with her cousins in the Netherlands, it’s heartbreaking. It makes me wonder if we made the right choice. About a month and a half later, we finally find a rental. When we move in, the container with all our things arrives as well. Again, it feels like Christmas, unpacking all those boxes. Having our own places and our own things, makes all of us feel more at home. Also, I have more time now to do things with my daughter and meet new people. Slowly we’re adjusting to our new life.
We’ve been here now for 4 years, and I’m glad to say we made the right choice. After school started, my daughter learned English in no time. In fact, English has become her first language and she now corrects us, especially when it comes to pronunciation. My English, especially my vocabulary has improved much over the past 4 years, but my pronunciation always gives me away. People still ask me where my accent is from. At first I didn’t like it, but I’ve come to appreciate it. It’s always a good subject to start a conversation.
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