Three months since our touchdown in Amsterdam

It feels like a lifetime ago that we pushed three airport trolleys piled high with cases to the first coffee bar (not coffee shop – that’s something completely different) we saw.

We sat down for some caffeine, a literal and figurative breather (we had been wearing masks for around 16 hours – from the embassy to the airport to the flight to the touchdown), and to take stock of what we needed to do next – withdraw hefty amounts of cash from the ATM to pay our makelaar (rental agent) and handyman, who had collected all our IKEA stuff and assembled about 27 or so pieces of furniture. We also needed to order an Uber van to take us to our apartment, but not before buying Rebecca an aeroplane balloon from one of the airport shops, which is still intact to this day.

After months of Covid-related anxiety and admin in Joburg, it feels like our settling here has been fairly easy in comparison. Everything has fallen into place, thanks to a really good infrastructure and system here, and because Andrew and I are fairly organised, He’s risk averse, reads and researches important things and always has everything covered, and I’m impatient, which probably make for a great emigrating duo. Thanks to my kids’ resilience and strength, our process was also made much easier, but don’t think there weren’t lots of ice cream rewards for the toddler along the way.

In three months, we have made an apartment a home, done most of the settling-in/bureaucracy admin, settled the kids at school, experienced two seasons, cycled in the rain, put together additional IKEA furniture, celebrated the Jewish new year, and eaten the best fries we’ve ever tasted.

In three months, I have started a great new job remotely, found regular nail, wax and brow salons, begun volunteer editing for Amsterdam Mamas, been class mom’ing x2, gained a little more confidence on the bike, and kept a few plants alive (this is truly a first for me).

We have been warned that this is the “honeymoon phase”, that winter will be unbearably hard, that the Dutch are straightforward and that it’s hard to integrate with them. I’ve been told that the first five years are the hardest, that the novelty will wear off soon, that it will be a big adjustment to clean my own home. It might all be somewhat true for me down the line, or it might land up just being other people’s experiences, but I’ll do my best to be positive.

So far, every day has been a grateful one with at least one really happy moment (I define these in my own way).

Whether it’s successfully cleaning all my surfaces of the weird and insistent Dutch dust, running in the park and seeing an alpaca in a huge enclosure, safely walking home at night, watching my son ahead of me on the bike, receiving a letter from the municipality that shows just how efficient and organised the system is here, eating a fresh stroopwafel, seeing my favourite falafel balls marked down in Albert Heijn, ordering a great beauty product online, turning on the central heating, or exchanging a pleasantry in the store. They might not be “big” happy moments, but they take up a large space in my life.

I hope and intend to carry on finding good moments every day.


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  • Stefan

    13 October 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Keep celebrating the small happy moments. They are wonderful blessings!

    • Tanya
      to Stefan

      18 October 2020 at 6:15 pm

      They really are! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  • Vickie

    13 October 2020 at 8:40 am

    Absolutely love reading your blog! It’s always uplifting and so well written. Thank you 🙏🏻

    • Tanya
      to Vickie

      18 October 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks so much for reading xx

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