Why moving to America has been the best thing I’ve ever done.

Besides the obvious reasons why my big move has been the best thing in my life, like my husband and my daughter, and really wanting to get away from a lot of things I was dealing with in the Netherlands, there is one other very big reason why America is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

No I don’t have “the American Dream”, my reason is simple: I have found me.
I maybe shouldn’t say that I have found myself, but I’m very busy with finding myself.
My whole life before moving here I was kind of lost, and trying so desperately to fit in to certain things.

I’ve literally tried it all; the posh club at school, the popular club, gothic, punk, alternative, hardcore, rock, metal, the bullied club, the Dutch scene, Dutch hardcore, being “normal”, being alone, being focussed on work, friends, party’s, drugs & alcohol.
With all of this also came different attitudes; being rude, obnoxious, aggressive, rebellious, nice to my closest people, terrible to people I didn’t know, arrogant, happy, nonchalant, naive, but mostly sad.

I tried so hard to fit in, I dressed the right way, I talked the right way, I did what they did and it still was never good enough. I was always the one who ended up back where I started, with basically nothing. And this also happened when I decided to move here.

Within no time my friends stopped messaging, except for Denise <3, and I lost contact with the Netherlands. If you would have told me 2 years ago that my family would mean so much to me as they do today I may have not believed you. They are the only ones {and Denise} who have been there 100% and we still skype weekly. Especially my sister and I have become closer than ever, which is strange since we are 3000 miles apart.

At first this came as a big hit in my face, I felt like I had lost everyone. With being pregnant and having a baby shortly after my hormones were going through the roof and I was mostly sad that I felt so alone. How did I end up like this? I used to be pretty popular and I used to go out all the time and see people and do things, and now I was sitting in the same apartment every day with a newborn and no friends to share my life with.

But very quickly after this period of basically grieving the loss of “friendship” and life with a new born, I decided that this could also be a good thing. I tried to find things that I liked doing without thinking about what other people would think. I started being creative again, with a scrapbook, planner, drawing and this blog. I decided to go and get a job to meet new people and get more social contacts with grown ups in stead of “goo goo ga ga” talk with baby’s.
I joined a facebook page called Hike It Baby and went on a few trips with them just to get back into socializing. I picked up gaming with my husband again, and we found things that we like to do as a couple. We went to baby class at Gymboree for my contact with other moms and of course to see Delilah have lots of fun!

I am so happy and proud to say that I am really finding myself. I dress the way I like, I only buy it if I like it and I don’t care what style it is. I lost my potty mouth vocabulary and I try to be a decent human being. {Yes, I do still say the occasional bad word when I get upset..}

This all is only possible because here people accept and respect who you are as a person. No body cares if you wear 10 layers of makeup, or if you don’t. No body will care if you wear something “strange”.
People can say a lot of things about Americans, but I was so pleasantly surprised about how accepting they are, and how much respect they have.

I have not once been called a name here. Not once in 2 years time has someone shouted “Filthy gothic” for looking a bit different, or “nasty whore” for wearing heels and a little cleavage. I have not been laughed at at the swimming pool for being fat, or having stretch marks, and I never get comments about my tattoos, piecings or my half shaven head, except for funny ones or interesting questions.

In the beginning of me moving here I kept asking my husband if I looked okay, and nowadays I will go outside without makeup, the hair I have left in a messy bun, and in my comfy clothes. {Okay I must admit that I still don’t go out in my PJ’s but who knows when that day will come ;)}

I hope you liked reading this, it was a little more personal for me but I just really felt like I needed to get this off my chest. People just assume you stay the same person but I have changed so much over the past years and I think it’s for the better.

Please leave me a comment if you have anything to ask or say, or just to tell me what you thought about this blog post!

xxx Anouschka


Bicycle = Fiets

I think a lot of people, who are not from the Netherlands, do not understand nor can they comprehend how much feelings we have towards bicycles. 
I would have never in my life thought I was going to be the one writing about how much I miss having a bicycle and cycling in general. So let me just start at the beginning.

Growing up, one of your biggest achievements as a Dutchy is learning how to ride a bike. It’s a whole ordeal. But before you can actually ride a bike, or you are to little to actually go somewhere with your bike, your mom will have found a child seat, and if you have siblings, that is no problemo!

Dutch mom with 3 kids on bike {Picture: frankrijk.blog.nl

Literally every Dutch kid will start with a tiny cute bike including side support wheels attached to it, for girls there is pink ones, for boys they are blue or red. Your family will be so excited and it makes you so proud, because you also want to cycle, like everyone does!

Our prime minister on a bike with side wheels, just for lolz. {Picture:  Dumpert.nl}

Once you got the hang of this, they will eventually detach your support and you are on your own. It is scary and it comes paired with a lot of falling and getting back up, but you will get there, and then you can practice riding longer distances.

Eventually when you are about 4/5 years old, you and your mom or/and dad will all cycle to school every morning and back home after school or maybe you have lunch at home and they will pick you up for lunch too. Cycling is so much fun! All the kids cycle to school, and it’s so much fun when you meet other kids from your class along the way. You get cool bells to go on your bike, and little beads to put around your spokes so that they make a nice sound when you cycle. You even get a little basket on your bike so that when you and mom go grocery shopping you can help transport the groceries home.

Little girls bicycle, including the little beads. {Picture: marktplaats.nl}

Eventually when you are around 9 years old you would be able to cycle to school by yourself with your friends. I always waited on the corner of our block for my friends so that we could all cycle to school together. There are special bike lanes so traffic really is safe, bicycle riders have their own traffic lights and signs, and remember those moms and dads that bring their kids to school? Well they are still out there, they may not be your parents, but other parents will still keep an eye out for the older kids.

In school you also have to get your “Bicycle Exam”. It’s a little test that teaches you all the road signs and basic safety rules for riding your bicycle. We did it in the form of a “fox hunt”  where there would be parents along the road that you were cycling in funny outfits and they would give you stickers or a drink or snack and tell you where you had to go next. It was a lot of fun!

Cycling to school. {Picture: flythekite.eu}

When you go to the next school, at the age of around 11/12, you will still cycle to school, but this school is usually a little bit further away and a lot bigger. It’s scary finding a spot for your bike and hoping you remember where you put it sometimes, but it usually all works out. At this point I had a “Grandma bike” {Oma fiets} and I {The filthy gothic that I was} spray painted it bright green and red, with tons of Vans stickers on it. I used to put Cradle of Filth in my walkman, and just cycle the %$^ out of myself. I was at school within 10 minutes though!

Also when I ran a little late, I just deflated my tires and told the janitor that I had flat tires and had to walk.. It worked 2 times, and then they caught onto me.

Grandma bike / Oma fiets. {Picture: bicyclerepairmen.nl}

At this point I also went “shopping” with my friends after school, and we always had to put our bikes into the bike garage when you enter the city center to go further by foot.
As you can imagine, since everyone’s primarily transport is bicycles, there is a lot of bikes getting stolen, and resold by some junkies in the park for 5 Euros.
The bike garage was one of my favorite things, I was so fascinated by it. I have no idea why but I just was.

Later on in life, I took my bike to the city center over my car for a whole other reason: Getting drunk! Drunk cycling is the best, and the worst at the same time. I think the best times about going out to the bars of Breda must have been the times me and my friends rode our bikes home trying to ride them in a straight line and all ending up on the ground or in the bushes. Great times! haha.

Bicycle garage / Fietsenstalling, Utrecht.

Cycling a lot, means also going everywhere when it rains, when it snows, when the wind almost knocks you off your bike. Living in a country where it rains like 90% of the time, it wasn’t always fun. Actually, I hated it so much when I was a teenager. But then again, I hated everything when I was a teenager. 😉 I wish, looking back, that I would have appreciated it more.

When I was 18 I got a scooter for my graduation present, and I gave up on cycling until I was 21, then I bought a new bike to have along side my car. It is difficult to find parking spaces or going anywhere with a car sometimes, so having a bike really came in handy, plus it is so much cheaper.
I’m glad I got to enjoy riding a bike a little more before I moved here. Now it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve ridden a bike, and I miss it so much.
I want to get a bike, with a little child seat so that me and Delilah can go out on bike rides together. I want her to grow up riding bikes, so I am so happy my mom and ‘dad’ bought her a little tricycle for her birthday. I plan on riding her to school on the bike when it’s nice weather and I hope she is going to like it. I hope the roads here also allow it. We don’t live in a crazy town, but some roads are a little scary.

My daughter on her tricycle.

All and all, cycling to me comes paired with so many emotions. I hated it so much, I loved it at the same time, but now, I mostly miss it.

I can’t wait to cycle again, but this time only when the weather allows it!

Thank you for reading! I hope you liked it.
I also hope I could shine some light on these crazy Dutch people and their obsessions with bikes.

I would love to hear your opinions or comments about this story, don’t be afraid to comment on this post!

xxx Anouschka