Over Time

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It’s almost been a year since we moved back to the States from the Netherlands.

At dinner tonight, we were talking about which year felt like it moved more quickly – the year abroad, or the year since we’ve been back home.

They all feel that this past year felt like it went by more quickly than the year overseas. I wonder why.

I wonder if it’s because we were more in a routine and life was more predictable this year than last year. The year abroad had us so busy and exploring new lands and making new friends and creating new routines and building a new life infrastructure. Our brains were working harder to process all the new experiences, and I think because of this busy-ness, it feels like we were there for five years vs. one.

We were definitely busy here this year with three different schools vs. one at the ISA, and a long commute for Jeff, but it felt like this last year flew by.

The best part of being back is that our family is still really close and we really like doing things together. We’re loving the friendships we’ve rekindled and the new friends we’ve made this year. We’re still missing our friends and connections in the Netherlands and long to see everyone again. Facebook helps to keep in touch and to know how everyone is doing. Many friends left this year and have moved on to new adventures too. I’m glad we moved before having to say all those hard goodbyes, which are a huge and challenging part of the expat life.

We love the weather here and the sun shining almost every single day. This makes me very happy. I like our one story house compared to the steep stairs and three story house in Holland. I’m loving being outside playing tennis and hiking every week, compared to playing indoors and walking and running in the rain.

I miss the slower pace of life in Holland, where we had time for family dinners every night of the week, and school started at the same time for all three kids which was later than 7:30 am start time here for one kid, 8 am start time for another and the same 8:30 am start time as ISA.

I love that I can call or text my sisters and parents at any time and not have to worry about different time zones and waking anyone up.

The hardest part of returning home is that I miss our amazing travel experiences. We are busier now with our normal routines and there is less vacation time in the US than the vacation time in Europe. When we were expats, the expectation was that we would travel as frequently as possible. There was less homework, less extra curricular activities, and less commute time. Now that we’re back, the kids and Jeff are tired. Their ideal vacation, is lounging at home and relaxing. As a stay at home mom, I’m always eager to get out and explore, not that they don’t want to too, it’s just less of a priority. So we’re working on achieving a balance. And we’re still traveling, just at a slower pace than my comfort zone.

I think the year abroad was such an intense and interesting, shared experience, that it was more salient. It felt like we had a deeper connection because the experience was so rich and meaningful. We were fully present and aware and we bonded over the hard work and joy. It felt like those first experiences that really move you – like your relationship with your first partner, or your college experience, or the birth of your first child and that first year or two of them growing up and you becoming a parent. We felt fully alive and felt like we were doing something meaningful, together.

Day to day life can be exciting too, it’s just not as deep. And it’s normal and comfortable and easy, but just not as new. Does that make any sense? I wonder if you could make day to day life feel as intense. Hmmm…

These are just a couple of thoughts about the past two years, just kind of comparing and contrasting. If you’re an expat or a repatriate, I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Happy 4th of July tomorrow and let Holland win the quarter finals on Saturday!!

Life is good.

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