The expat returns

I’ve just returned ‘home’ to Dordrecht after a month ‘home’ in Melbourne. The temperature has dropped by forty degrees (although it’s actually half-pleasant for winter), I’m all messed up by jetlag (is it something you only get in your later years?) and I even got a ‘welkom thuis’ (welcome home) from the passport officer at Amsterdam Airport.

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Paul and I on the Melbourne Star, aka ‘the big wheel’.

I loved my month back home. It was my second visit since moving to Dordrecht three years ago, and my first in two years. That first visit came less than a year after I’d left, when everything over here was still relatively new and I still felt relatively temporary. This time was different.

I’d missed home particularly over the previous couple of months – homesickness was a foreign concept before that – and things had changed while I was gone. Footscray Station was unrecognisable. South Melbourne Market Dim Sims had opened up outlets in the city. Zara and Topshop had come to Australia. My parents’ dog Jerry had gained some manners. Even the government had changed, and not for the good.

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Maybe he’s still a bit naughty.

But some things hadn’t. People were still complaining about the same things; myki, speed cameras and the Melbourne Star. My favourite little strip of Asian restaurants in Swanston Street was still intact. The 57 tram was still stuck in the 1970s and lacking air conditioning. Internet connections were still deathly slow. And we still filled the MCG on Boxing Day.

Paul and I busied ourselves over the month. We checked out our old haunts – the South Melbourne Market, the MCG and the Westpac Centre (where we saw Nathan Buckley, Peter Daicos, Nathan Brown AND Tarkyn Lockyer). We discovered new ones – I stayed a night in the luxurious Crown Metropol, enjoyed dinner with friends at the Panama Dining Room and rode a horse down on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Christmas Day in the backyard. With prawns, of course.

We also spent a week down the beach. For any non-Aussies reading this, a week down the beach after Christmas is a tradition for many, and my family has been no different. I can remember the different spots in which we’ve holidayed over the years – Blairgowrie, Ocean Grove, Lorne, Portarlington, Robe, Merimbula… the list goes on. Sometimes we mixed it up and got a houseboat on a lake or river. This time, we picked Torquay and filled our week with plenty of beach action, shopping, coffee-ing and a hell of a lot of movies. Yep, the house we rented in Torquay Sands had a cinema room!

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Behold, the cinema room.

And now I’m back here in Dordrecht. I’ve come back jobless, which is a very strange position to be in. I still hardly know anyone here. And it’s cold.

For the first couple of weeks in Melbourne, I was worried about coming back. Life in Melbourne was easy – I could speak the language fluently, I knew my way around and I was surrounded by people who knew me well, and had welcomed me back as if I’d never been away. Why was I leaving again?

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Day-tripping to Queenscliff.

But then something changed. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps I just slapped myself in the face and told myself to get over it all. We’re probably going to be living in Holland for another year or so, not a lifetime. Paul is the loveliest guy I could ask for. And now I’ve got all this free time to yes, job-search, but do something else I love; write. Why not turn this into my advantage and try and write as much as I possibly can?

I’m pretty cynical, usually; I hate people’s boasting on Facebook on how wonderful everything is. I hate New Year’s resolutions. But, perhaps a couple of weeks late, I’ve decided there’s no harm in having some expat resolutions, of which I can think of a few:

  1. Pass the NT2 Staatexam and in turn qualify to receive my Dutch passport;
  2. Combat the dreary weather by going on a health kick;
  3. Get published either in print or online;
  4. Find some new paid work, whether it be part- or full-time; and
  5. Explore some new places both in Holland and elsewhere in Europe.

So there you go. I’m thinking POSITIVELY! And guess what? The sun is even out. What a welcome back. Happy days.

7 Responses to The expat returns

  1. Sammi January 19, 2014 at 11:52 PM #

    When I lived in the Canary Islands, I came back to the UK for 5 days in the four years I lived there. Don’t you feel, tho’, that part of the expat life is not really feeling at home anywhere? It took me a really long time to settle back in to the UK and I’ve been back a long time, and the amount I try to travel, I don’t exactly call it settled! I don’t plan on living here forever either, I am thinking I would perhaps like to live back in Spain, or maybe even in Holland or Germany with some friends.

    And, like you said, you’ve got this wonderful thing called time to play with for a while, whilst you jobhunt (what sort of thing are you looking for?) and maybe you can make some money out of writing?!

    Glad you had a great trip back home :) that house looks stunning! X
    Sammi recently posted..Amsterdam Walking TourMy Profile

    • Caitlyn January 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM #

      Thanks Sammi! I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always be thinking about being somewhere else, wherever I am in the world!

  2. Silvia January 21, 2014 at 2:48 AM #

    They sound like good (and like, actually practical) expat resolutions. Exploring Europe will be fun!
    Silvia recently posted..Postcards from LondonMy Profile

    • Caitlyn January 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM #

      Thanks Silvia! I can’t wait to do all the trip-planning :)

  3. Agness January 22, 2014 at 4:10 AM #

    I’m glad you had such a great time. How was the temperature shock? You must be missing sunny days right now. My mom told me it was super cold in Europe so take care of yourself !!! :) I’m glad you had such a great time back home. I can see Holland miss you a lot though.
    Agness recently posted..15 Beer Experiences From Around The World, Part 1My Profile

    • Caitlyn January 23, 2014 at 10:22 AM #

      It’s not too bad here actually! It’s not even freezing at night and there’s no snow, so it’s a bit warmer than in Poland I think :)

  4. Jenny April 16, 2015 at 5:51 AM #

    Wow, beautiful photos, and it sounds super relaxing! I’ll certainly add it to my list! Travel Blogs & Images

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