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Hello to the Netherlands!

The Netherlands Lonely Planet

Today at around 11am I will haul two suitcases’ worth of my life from my flat in Wandsworth to London Southend airport, onto a plane, to fly over to the Netherlands! The reason is that I’m moving to the university city of Groningen, in the north-east of this little country, to begin a Masters. If you missed that snippet of news and want to catch up, then head over to this blog post to find out more: My Next Steps: Why I’m Leaving the UK and Emigrating to Europe

        Luckily for me, the 200,000-people city of Groningen has its own tiny little airport that flies to only 11 destinations in the whole wide world, one of which is London (albeit one of the more tenuous “London” airports, that’s actually on the Essex coast). What luck! When my plane lands, I’ll have not only moved to my 6th country, but I’ll also have stepped foot in my 50th country. One of the goals in my travel wish list was to visit 50 countries before I turn 30, so I’m pleased to say I’ll shortly be ticking that one off!

         Indeed, I’m moving to a country I’ve never even visited before… Will I like it? Will it suit me? It’s perhaps a little risky but it’s only until January, before I move on elsewhere. Do you think I’ll like the Netherlands?

        The last month since announcing my decision to leave my job and my flat in London, to move abroad for 2 years on-off, return to student life and pursue a Masters, has been hectic. I stayed at work right up until last week to earn some last minute funds; I started an online Dutch language course; I started my pre-reading by diving into the 600-page ‘Europe: A Cultural History’ book (just one of the 4 texts I’m supposed to have finished before lectures start); I applied for 3 different prizes/scholarships; my sister and I finished and furnished our new loft conversion; I found a room to rent in Groningen; I rented out my own room; I remortgaged the flat; I said goodbye to friends, family and colleagues; I went home to Hampshire and to Surrey; I gave a talk about Nepal at the Circle of Young Intrapreneurs; I pitched for (and won!) a one-day job teaching blogging in The Hague; I filmed a small piece for Sky News; I partied at Notting Hill Carnival this weekend; and finally, I packed. Hence why it’s been a little quiet on the blogging side of things!

        I’m absolutely exhausted! The day after I left work I basically just slept and napped, waking up just to eat, drink champagne (thanks to my aunt!), and move from bed to sofa to garden, back to sofa and then bed again. Not a bad first day of unemployment.

        I’m over the moon and so excited to start the course. My first few days here will involve unpacking; setting up a bank account, gym membership and SIM card; finding a bike; finishing my pre-reading; attending a Welcome Ceremony in the 800-year-old Martini Church; attending a few talks and events that look interesting; and then the term itself and lectures begin next Monday 5th September.

        I’m hoping to blog about the course and life in the Netherlands, either monthly or twice a term, depending on my workload. As well as studying in Groningen, hopefully I’ll get to see a bit of the rest of the Netherlands and maybe north Germany too, and I’ll be back in London a bit as there are a few events and parties I don’t want to miss. I already have a few visitors coming to stay and visit me in the land of tulips, windmills and bicycles, and of course I have to explore Amsterdam while I’m so close.

        So I’m off! Yesterday I read this great blog post by Absolutely Lucy about making big life decisions and taking risks, which struck me. As my sister herself said the other day, I’m no stranger to moving around, and it no longer scares me like it did back when I was 18 and moving abroad for the first time. I no longer give it too much thought in the days leading up to the move (as evidenced by stupidly leaving all my packing to yesterday). But a huge amount of thought and worry did go into making the decision itself earlier this year. Knowing that a decision like this could alter my entire future, could set me on a completely different path, knowing that I’m at a crossroads of sorts, completely unaware of which doors will open to me and which will close. I agonised endlessly over this decision, not knowing what to do but also knowing that no one else would decide for me, that no one else had the answers I needed to help me decide. I can’t predict now what my life will be like in 2 years’ time once this Masters is over, nor can I predict what my life would have been like in 2 years’ time, had I not decided to leave my job and move abroad again. I can only hope that this turns out to be the right decision, and thankfully I’ll never know otherwise!

Fingers crossed and wish me luck!

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