Graduating Abroad

Wow!! What an amazing feeling it is to say I have passed my graduation project as well as four years of school abroad!! Studying in the Netherlands has been pretty amazing.

At the beginning I was against the idea of going back into studying and attending school, as I had already been working full time for nearly a year at a previous job in England followed by my 1 year Au Pair job in Rotterdam. But I knew I wanted, and needed, a degree.

My time as an Au Pair was ending and I needed to see my options into studying in the Netherlands, else my next option was to go back to England, which I didn’t really want. I started by making a pros and cons document listing everything regarding my present and future options.

When I think back I must have been crazy, but I hated the idea of going back to school for 4 years for my degree. At the time all I wanted to do was find a full time job, which would give me and my partner the option to move forward, such as a place to live together, travelling to destinations and having the extra money for saving, date nights and future plans. Plus, I was already 20 years old, rather young of course, but I couldn’t imagine being 25 by the time I graduated with the thought of still attending school. I think I got this impression from England, with only a few friends attending university straight from school at 17 or 18 years old, who would have graduated by 22 years old.

Realistically the pros outweighed the cons and I had started my search of a university that taught something related to business in English, since my Dutch was nowhere near ready to study a degree for!

Before leaving England I completed a 2 year certificate in Business Administration at college, which was not high enough for the specific degree I wanted to complete in the Netherlands, so I first had to pass an economic class during the summer, which would allow me to enter the 4 year course of my choice.

September came around quickly and with my economic class passed I was ready with my school books, pens, laptop and notebooks to start the scary process of my first semester at Rotterdam Business School. My chosen study was the International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) with topics such as marketing, logistics, economics and finance.

Rotterdam Business School - Rotterdam, Neherlands

Studying in the Netherlands requires you to pass all exams in your 1st year before you are allowed to continue to the following 3 years. This 1st year certificate is called a Propedeuse. Getting into the rhythm of having exams every 9 weeks was a little difficult, and after needing to resit a few exams I finally received my Propedeuse in time to continue on to the 2nd year the following September. What a relief that was!

propThe main challenge for me was that I did not receive student finance, the nice low interest loan from the government that you pay for school and transportation with. This was due to the rules of needing to work at least 56 hours a month as an EU citizen, with proof of contract. Since year 1 of my studies I have actually always had a job, such as working in a fast food restaurant, but with always a 0-hour contract I could not prove the 56 hours. However I still managed to pull through each year by working my ass off with more than 56 hours to pay off the costs of school and either cycle or walk to school to save transportation costs. So I’m also very proud to say that I have no debt from my 4 years of study!

Now looking at the present time, it’s the end of June and it’s the end of my 4th year at school. I have officially had my defense presentation for my graduation project. The last few weeks have been increasingly stressful but I got though it AND I can officially say that I will soon be able to pick up my certificate for my Bachelor degree!! Wohoo!

Graduated!

I don’t think it has truly sunk in yet that I am actually done with school, but this weekend I’m going to sort out all my old school books to sell (or burn!) and throw away old notebooks. I was taken out to dinner by my partner and I will celebrate more with family soon! For now I’m going to get stuck in with planning our next holiday too!

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Turning 25

Currently sat on the balcony of my beautiful apartment. The sun is shining and I’m wondering whether I need to get my sun cream out. Turning a quarter of a century old has definitely given me time to think of some things I am proud of so far in life.

Passed my driving test… 3rd time. Wow I remember being so nervous for this! The first time I failed due to hitting the curb while trying to park and second because I pulled out of a junction in front of a slow tractor that was apparently too close. No one wants to get stuck behind a slow tractor.

I left home at 18, not just around the corner but to a whole new country. This year I’ll be celebrating 6 years in the Netherlands (and deciding whether to become a Dutch citizen depending on Brexit).

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Learnt Dutch, although consequently losing all my French and even some English!

I have a caring, trustworthy and not to forget HANDSOME partner who shares the same tastes in food, interests like music and travel, and can have a really good discussion.

I ran 10km at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016. Pretty amazing achievement for me!

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Plus I am more active than ever, with up to 4 days in the gym follwing a fitness programme and easily reaching my 10k steps every day using my Fitbit.

I’ve rode a bike since I was little, but have acquired the skills to cycle with two children on front and back, with an IKEA 4×4 Kallax and up to 6 full bags of shopping. Not all in one go of course!

I’ve become less fussy with food. Like there is fussy and there is MAJOR fussy, which was me, so this is pretty big. I grew up only liking potato waffles and fish fingers. These days I still surprise my family with what I eat!

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I’ve NEARLY completed my bachelor degree in International Business and Management Studies, how exciting!

I have been to more than 15 countries. Even with little money over the years it’s always been possible to explore! Check some places I’ve visited here.

Goals before turning 26…. (and 27, 28, 29 and 30)

Travel more! maybe a place from the list of future travels.

Receive my degree, hopefully by July 2017! -> Wohoo graduated!

Learn to make more delicious meals.

Keep up the fitness goals -> New road bike hobby!

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Christmas & New Years Celebrations in NL

Spending the Christmas holidays away from family always has it’s hard moments. Missing things like the delicious cooked roast dinner with all the trimmings, all sitting together sharing old family stories and watching the good english comedian shows, followed by a fresh wintery Boxing Day walk. It’s always even harder if I go back to the UK for the holidays too, as not all family members live in one place. So it always depends on who was last, or who I haven’t seen in ages!

The last time I was home for Christmas was in 2014 to the city of Norwich, Norfolk. Time has gone by so fast that it doesn’t feel like it was 2 years ago!

Christmas in NL

However it’s not all bad to stay in the Netherlands for the festive holidays. One of the best things I love about Christmas in the Netherlands is having gourmetten for dinner. A typical Dutch tradition of using a special hot cooking grill on the center of the table, with everyone able to reach and cook their own meal. From the middle of November you can buy lots of mini dishes to cook on your gourmet, such as mini hamburgers, steaks, slavink (pigs in blankets) and marinated chicken slices. You combine your meat/fish choices with grilling your own vegetables too, like peppers, mushrooms and onions. Lastly including a range of delicious sauces and some french bread with garlic butter… and for me also a glass of wine to wash it all down!

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I find that its always very gezellig to eat this type of way as you can take your time with no rush to eat.

Last year we officially had our first real christmas tree in our first official home together. It felt so good to celebrate together and hand up our pretty purple and silver christmas decorations.

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New Years in NL

Once the Christmas festivities are out of the way, its already time to prepare for the new year and set some new resolutions! The week between Christmas and New Years Day is celebrated with listening to the Top 2000, an annual radio programme of the top 2000 voted songs and eating Oliebollen, a warm fried doughnut with raisins shaped in a ball  and topped with icing powder.

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Throughout November and December a competition takes place with all the stalls who sell oliebollen in the Netherlands to be ranked as the best. The Algemeen Dagblad national newspaper will be doing the competition again for the 25th time!  The test includes up to 115 contestants in the Netherlands and each oliebollen is tested based on how well it is fried (fat %), the weight, if it has a good amount of raisins in the mixture and of course if its delicious or not!

Oliebollen can only be bought at this time of year so I usually indulge way too many of them!! (Not so great for next year’s summer body!)

My favourite place to buy oliebollen is in Rotterdam. The stall from Richard Visser’s Gebakkraam came 4th last year, but has been 1st a total of nine times in the competition. Even if he is not number 1, you can still expect to stand in the queue for up to 2 hours waiting to pick up your fresh oliebollen for the New Years celebrations! (He opened at 6am last year and there were people queueing at 4am ready for the first oliebollen!)

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Richard Visser – Source: AD News
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The front of queue at the stall – Source: Rijnmond News

He has become so famous for his oliebollen that his stall has been created for the Miniworld Rotterdam!

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Top 2000!

The Top 2000 is an annual radio show that plays the top 2000 songs of all time. People can vote on the songs which are then played between Christmas and New Years Eve, with the top song of the votes being played just before everybody shouts “Happy New Year!!!”.

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The most popular songs include Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (13 times number 1 and 3 times number 2) and Eagles – Hotel California (2 times number 1 and 8 times number 2). You can see the whole list here! This year Queen has again been voted first!!


The last few years it has rained into the new year, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people heading out to the Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam to watch the fireworks. It’s usually a good show and people are pretty sensible with setting off fireworks in the streets – Just keep your distance to be safe!

Kings Day Celebrations 2016

Since moving to the Netherlands, Queens Day was one of my favourite public holidays. A day to dress up in orange and go shopping for second hand items is something I love! Two years ago Queens Day changed to Kings Day for the first time, celebrated now on the April 27th as it marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander.

What I love about Kings Day is that most shops are closed and the city becomes more alive than usual with people wanting to make money from selling their belongings or people wanting to buy! I also love that the Royal family visit a different village each year where they see local talent from schools, art displays and games that they join in on. They get so close and personal with everyone who attends that village to see them and get involved with trying the local cheese or dancing to a performance.

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Back in 2011 my mum and little sister were visiting me in Rotterdam and they got to experience how much the Dutch love celebrating in orange! Lots of stores start selling orange coloured clothes, accessories and food three weeks before the official date, with a favourite treat being an orange coloured tompouce! (a Dutch pastry cake with cream filling).

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My little sister also loved the day, pictured below with my partner’s mum. It was so fun for her to dress up in orange and spend her money on random stuff she liked, that would also fit in her suitcase back to the UK.

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I’m a big fan of recycling and shopping for second hand items for the house or my closet. A week before the holiday I start getting excited and checking out the weather hoping for the sun. I also start thinking of all the things I want to find or plan on looking for, with hope that I will succeed with as little money as possible!

People who decide to sell their belongings start setting up their stall/area in the city from as early at 6am, with the latecomers joining around 10am. By 9am I am normally already looking at peoples stalls to see if I can buy some great stuff before other buyers do!

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Since running 10km for the Rotterdam Marathon I have been extremely motivated to reach my fitness goals and invest in new active clothes. So the main thing on my list for 2016 is to find anything related to fitness! Clothes, weights, accessories etc.

Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for. Hopefully the weather will be dry and sunny for tomorrows Kings Day, because today the Netherlands has had rain, hail and even places of snow! If your joining in with the celebrations, don’t forget to wear orange!

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