Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blame it on the Dutch- Part 1

Many years ago, 38 to be exact, I had the opportunity to be an exchange student in the Netherlands. Right now I am screaming silently in my head- has it really been 38 years?
I have to tell you that this experience changed my life in many ways and that is why I blame it on the Dutch.
Don't worry, this is extremely positive.

When the opportunity came up, I JUMPED at it.
I had never been to Europe, didn't speak Dutch (took Spanish in high school), and had never lived away from home. I really wanted to have this experience and hoped I would be one of the lucky ones.

On the plane over to Amsterdam, I had second thoughts. What was I thinking? I don't speak Dutch. One member of the large family I would be living with spoke limited English.
This could be a nightmare.

Actually, it turned into a life changing experience and for many reasons.
It gave me confidence. I realized I could do something outside of my comfort zone and live through it- hehe.

I started to learn Dutch. Very shaky at first and very funny. The younger kids in the family taught me little songs, etc. In return, I taught them English phrases.
I still remember a bit. Ik hou van je- I love you (but that is a whole other story). Not sure if I spelled it correctly.

The picture above is the house I lived in. I thought it was just perfect.

This picture was taken in the garden. I had always loved plants and flowers and this love just grew. As a girl, I remember coming home from Church and changing my clothes so I could "help" a neighbor with his garden. As I look back, he had the patience of Job!

This shot was taken in the backyard. So peaceful. I knew when I grew up I had to surround myself with what made me happy.

Another shot of the garden. I learned to enjoy life, and savor every experience.
Beauty is everywhere, we just need to open our eyes. This experience opened my eyes.
We would ride our bikes through the woods.
I don't mean little rides but serious (even Lance at that age would be shaking his head) bike rides.

This picture was taken after a particularly long ride. I'm the one leaning on "my younger brother". I didn't think I would be able to ride back home. But I did.

I learned to really live in the moment but
I knew that I was destined to move to Europe.
And I did. Several years later, I moved to Switzerland (The original French Elements started at that time even though I didn't realize it).
The exchange experience opened my eyes and for that I am extremely grateful.

I grew up around flowers but I had never experienced anything like the flower fields in the Netherlands. This YouTube video will give you a little tour of some amazing flower fields.
Just watching this made me want to quickly pack, and jump on a flight.



Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Barb! How stunning! And what a great experience! I finally went to France about seven years ago and that changed my life indeed. Hey, then you must visit the Dutchess...she is Dutch and lives in the city with a lovely garden. How nice to revisit the memories. They give us such pleasure and remind us of our achievements. Blessings, Anita

Judy said...

Hi Barb, what a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it with us. The garden and house are so beautiful. Isn't it fun to relive our memories through pictures?

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Barb, what a wonderful story and slice of your life. Your picture on the bikes looks like an ad from a magazine. Great picture. That was a beautiful house. Doesn't time go so so fast?

Anonymous said...

Good evening Barb. What a wonderful experience you had. It must have been awesome to live in another country. The house and gardens are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed the video too ♥ Great post!

Unknown said...

What a fabulous experience you had! How cool that you shared those beautiful photos!

How fun to get to know you a little better!

What beautiful gardens they had where you stayed! That house looks like a dream!

The flower show pictures are stunning.

Jacque said...

Barb, it sounds like you have lived a fun, full life. Your travels are my dream! You have so many things to share and I love reading about them!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful experience! And a beautiful setting none the less.
Exchange trips are so incredible, and such a regret when one doesn't jump at the chance. Glad to have walked down your memory lane with this post!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

I can't believe I never read this post! I'm Dutch, and most of my family still lives in Holland, as does the family of my husband.

What a cute post. Makes me want to go there for a trip again. xo

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