More than just a time zone difference.

Whew! The first week here was hard. REALLY hard. I literally have felt like an infant at times, and a young adolescent just going to live on my own for the first time at others. I’m sleeping when I should be awake, awake when I should be sleeping, even the small tasks seem like a rocket science project to complete. I am humbled. I think of all I completed and accomplished in the 4 months prior to now and realize it would take me over 4 years at a minimum to completed them here. It’s the beauty of both American luxuries (like cars, customer service, instruction manuals being in English and straightforward methods of doing business) as well as having familiarity with your surroundings and cultural processes that make productivity and multi-tasking possible.

In the absence of even a chair in the apartment, at one point I just had to crawl out my window and sit on the window overhang with a book, snacks and a bottle of wine and take a few deep breaths.
In the absence of even a chair in the apartment, at one point I just had to crawl out my window, sit on the sill, and take a few deep breaths over a book, snacks and a bottle of wine.

For those of you who know me, you know how not okay I am with having a less than stellar week when it comes to productivity and tangible outcomes. In fact the most I can say after a full week of living here is that I’ve gotten in to my apartment, personally blown up an air mattress by mouth, EVENTUALLY found the office on my bike an hour later, and translated the words on my washer and dryer (thanks Google translate!)

In America we are accustomed to things and people moving at the speed of light…You want this transaction completed? Done!We measure things in days, sometimes hours. Not weeks.

A little heads up on the Dutch timelines of basic living requirements would’ve been a HUGE help to cushion the blow of landing in a foreign country alone, and attempting to be functional while also trying to keep my sh*t together professionally at the same time for 40+ hours a week. For those who ever have to, allow me to debunk the unknown:

Time for a certified bank check to clear your account so you have funds to live on once you land?
5 weeks.
Yup! That money that I thought was going to be available right away since my once a month paycheck wasn’t hitting until 30 days later? Not so. In fact, the epitome of frustration came yesterday when all my groceries for just the basics (e.g. toilet paper) had been scanned and my 26 EURO bill got declined on my bank card. Of course the store didn’t accept cash, and American credit cards don’t have the the chip required (payment methods here are a whole other story) so back to the shelves I went… Better luck next time!

Time to receive a building badge as a new employee?
6 days and counting…

Time for your mobile phone device to arrive?
4 Days
Time for the Sim Card that goes with it to arrive so you can actually use it?
2 ½ weeks

Time for Internet / cable / phone utilities to be set up?
3 weeks minimum
(which includes a non-waiveable 2 week ‘reconsideration period’ in case you want to change your order from 1 of 3 options to 1 of the other 2 you hadn’t chosen in the first place.)  

Time for a driver’s license to come in once ordered?
6 weeks.
AND they take away your other one, giving you nothing in return, so you legally can’t drive any vehicle for that 6 weeks. And yes, thousands of civilized years later, that is the acceptable practice in the Netherlands. I did my best to influence them on the concept of temporary licenses. No deal. Looks like the purchase of my scooter will have to wait…

Fingers crossed that the worst of it is over, and Sean will be here soon to either share some of the tasks or laugh about it all with me. Definitely appreciating the small things that often get taken for granted throughout the course of a given day. 

What are some small conveniences that you couldn’t live without?

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