Losing Loved Ones From Afar

Losing someone you know is hard, but losing someone you love is harder. ❤

It was something I never really thought about in my future when moving to the Netherlands at 18 years old. So many happy moments and future plans did not involve the death of a loved one, but its so natural and the worlds way of making room.

Back in 2012, I got a phone call that I never expected. I was woken by my partner’s mum with the phone in her hand, telling me to speak to my mum on the other end. It was already strange that she was waking me up as my alarm was always set, but even more strange that my mum was calling the house phone instead of a Skype call or a Whats app message.

My granddad had been receiving treatment/chemotherapy for Cancer for a while. All was going so well and after multiple treatments he was officially cleared and on the long road of recovery. But unfortunately from being so weak from the treatment he caught a sickness bug while at the hospital, without a strong immune system to fight it, fatally sending him to sleep overnight.

He is someone I will always look up to, knowing how proud he would be. He would put a smile on everyone’s face no matter what situation it was and never had a bad word to say. My love of puzzles was through him, who always had a new puzzle being put together every week. Also with the love of cycling, we explored the island, but mostly to Cowes to watch the yachts and eat either some fish & chips or an ice cream together.

I’m not looking forward to more phone calls abroad like this, but life goes on and we will handle it as it comes. I believe that family is the most important thing in life so cherish those moments together.

❤

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United Kingdom

Here are a list of blogs written about locations in England.

Innsbruck (8) Innsbruck (7) Innsbruck (6) Innsbruck (5) Innsbruck (4) Innsbruck (3) Innsbruck (1) Innsbruck (2) Isle of Wight v2 Innsbruck

 

Coming soon!

  • London

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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Budapest, Hungary 2013

Arriving by Budapest with the night train from Prague was much better than we expected, not being woken once from noise, obviously too cosy under the clean fresh bunkbed sheets. What was good was that you needed your sleep cabin key to get into the toilet provided, so you didn’t need to worry about lack of toilet paper or it getting too disgusting from everyone like guests who had not booked a sleeping cabin.

Day One

The first day included buying a public transport card, as the city is so big compared to Prague there was no way we could walk to everything during our 3 day stay. We stayed at the Friends Hostel Budapest where we booked our own little apartment with kitchen, perfect for eating cheap on vacation. For starters, we had to get used to the change in currency, that made us feel rich! The currency EUR to HUF was €1 to 310 at the time, so for a 10,000 HUF note it was only about €32.

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Stepping on the metro we headed first to the Szechenyi Baths, one of the biggest natural hot spring spa baths in Europe. The weather was so hot the day we visited, making it rather busy, but still perfect to enjoy the outside pools and the inside spas.

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2013-08-15 14.16.53Seeing as we spent most of the day here, we felt so refreshed afterwards that we took a stroll back through the park to the Millenniumi emlékmű monument and towards Parliament, saw the shoes on the Danube bank and further for a walk around the bridges.

2013-08-16 12.37.05Day Two

Arriving at the Buda Hill Funicular was our next stop to get to the top of Buda Castle. A beautifully well kept castle with many viewpoints, gardens and museums within.

2013-08-16 12.56.402013-08-16 13.14.192013-08-16 13.21.02We visited the Labyrinth here too, perfect for a break out of the sun!

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Ending the day was with a free 3 hour walking tour of the city and night time walk to the fortress and Liberty Statue for fantastic views over the city. Definitely a highlight!

2013-08-16 21.42.51.jpgDay Three

Started the day by visiting the Hungarian National Museum, the Hungarian Technical and Transportation Museum and the Central Market Hall.

But the best museum we found impressive was the House of Terror Museum. This museum tells the story of the secret police and suffering endured by the Hungarian people under the Nazis and Hungarian Arrow Cross Nazi party in 1944 and the communist brutality after the war. There is also a section which pays special honour to the Freedom Fighters in 1956. Amazingly, both eras occurred in the same building, hence the museum name House of Terror.

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Finishing our trip with a Transavia flight back to the Netherlands ended our 10 day holiday to Prague and Budapest. It was fun, hot, and we had plenty of time to visit what we needed.

Prague, Czech Republic 2013

Our vacation to Prague started at the train station. We had booked ourselves on an overnight train from Amsterdam. Something completely new for us, but it was much cheaper than flying and we wanted a new experience!

We were lucky, since we didn’t book a private sleeping cabin but just chose two chairs due to our budget and we were placed in a cabin with 6 chairs in total. The lucky part was that only one other person joined us in this 6 chair cabin, meaning we could all lay down during the journey. Not that it was very comfy but we survived it fine.

Our first day in the city consisted of checking in at the Travellers Hostel which had a lovely breakfast included. Their breakfast room was situated perfect for the sunrise in the mornings. Good working wifi and perfect location to the city.

We picked up the free map provided and had a plan to visit the KGB Museum first.

This museum, which is more like a private collection, is situated in a small 3/4 room building run by a very enthusiastic Russian old man who has collected many unique World War II and Soviet Era artifacts on display, all related to covert operations and espionage. Maybe even ex-KBG himself? But highly recommended if you are interested and understand English well as his Russian accent was strong!

2013-08-12 14.08.32Of course no trip to Prague would be complete without walking over Charles Bridge. A very buzzing touristic spot filled with painters, jewellery sellers and live music. We stayed listening to the music for a while, some street performers really are good!

2013-08-14 14.31.52From here we walked up the St. Vitus Cathedral at the top of the hill. Below is the one photo I have that doesn’t show construction or scaffolding that was there for restoration.

2013-08-12 11.07.23We never went in, as it really was busy the weekend we had visited, but we enjoyed the atmosphere of the tourists and listened in on some of the walking tour guides close by to hear some of the history. In most cities we try and do a free walking tour but due to the short time planned we decided to explore on our own to the highlights we wanted to see.

Once you are at St. Vitus Cathedral you should take the paths all the way to the Petrin Hill & Observation Tower. There are some beautiful viewpoints along the way and all we could hear were birds singing to each other. The tower you can also go to the top with some pretty views towards the city. We decided for more exercise by walking up the 299 steps in the tower! 2013-08-12 11.43.07

2013-08-12 12.05.09We decided against using the funicular railway to the city below as the weather was beautiful, and walked down the path ending the night with some dinner and a beautiful walk across the Charles Bridge again and local area.

Day Two

Our second day included visiting the Army Museum Zizkov Museum and the Museum of Communism – both worth visiting with lots of information! From here we ended up walking to the John Lennon Wall

2013-08-14 15.22.14 2013-08-14 15.21.18We ended our second day with a delicious meal out in the city center for only €22.00 with drinks! We also visit to the top of the Old Town Hall for the views of Prague during sunset. A VERY popular thing to do, so some waiting was needed. This building also has Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock that can be special to watch (we missed it a few times before finally getting to see it between the many flocks of groups on walking tours). 2013-08-14 17.04.25

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It was the perfect evening to end our few days here. Prague, you were beautiful! One day we will be back to enjoy you again.

Unlike the overnight train from Amsterdam to Prague, we booked a proper sleeping cabin for our night train to Budapest as we wanted a decent nights sleep to explore the next day. You can check out our time in Budapest in my separate blog post here!

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Travel Inspiration

I’ve been updating my Social Media pages like Pinterest and Instagram the last couple of days, as they needed a good update. It’s becoming a little addictive but I have currently made all the boards of places we have visited.

Also, don’t forget to give us a follow on Twitter! We’d love to follow you back.

Some of my favourite boards on Pinterest are the ones below!

Travel journals is something I’m trying out, but have always been crafty and made photo books in the past. My first travel journal will be about our road trip in September in America!

I add all my Instagram photos to Pinterest too, especially photos of my home city of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

I’ll be adding new things more often so follow and I’ll follow you back!

Becoming Dutch

Gezellig

This word has become one of my favourite words to use since living in the Netherlands. It’s one of few words that cannot be perfectly translated into English, as there is simply no English word that is the same. If I had to describe it in my own words I would have to describe a situation.

Some of my examples:

  1. A cozy evening on the sofa with a film or series playing from Netflix, while underneath a warm blanket, a bowl of crisps on my lap and candles lit.
  2. A lively party full of family members celebrating someone’s birthday with cake, wine and a great mix of music playing.
  3. Sitting in a small restaurant with friends while stuffing your face with delicious food, while being provided with great service.

One word to describe these situations is definitely gezellig. It’s about feeling comfortable in the situation and being confident with the people you are with. The pleasantness of being with that someone or the inviting fun feeling that a party offers is also gezellig. The moment has to be right.

“Gezellig; cozy, nice, inviting, pleasant, comfortable, time with loved ones, relaxing atmosphere, fun.”

Cycling

I bought my first bike from Queens’s day a few years ago, now officially King’s Day. It was for about €25 Euros, didn’t need much work and perfect to get from A to B. Lennart fixed the lights for me and I gave it a good clean. It was just what I needed and intended to buy that day, as well as clothes.

Cycling in the Netherlands is pretty different to cycling in England. For a start there are no hills, unless you live in the south. You don’t have to worry about cars passing closely to you, as there are separate bike lanes basically everywhere. So you only need to avoid other cyclists and the occasional idiot on a scooter. You also have to avoid getting your tires stuck in the tram rails when crossing over them, as you will literally get stuck. Finding a spot to park your bike in the city can also be a nightmare.

Bikes are pretty much most peoples first mode of transport in the cities, unless it’s really bad weather and you catch the tram. The Dutch love using their bike to transport stuff too, like children on the front/back or a dog. But there is also some crazy things that I have seen being transported by bike, like a matress, a built billy bookcase from Ikea and full grown christmas trees.

After a year my first bike was the subject of drunken thieves. I had not used my bike in at least two weeks, but I checked on it often to make sure it was still there, as it was chained to a lamppost near where I lived. Well the third week came as I was actually going to use it. Arriving at the lamppost I had emotions to laugh and cry at the same time. During the night thieves had taken basically every part and left only the frame, attached to the lamppost with my chain still there.

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My latest bike was bought on Marktplaats, a dutch version of Ebay. I definitely keep it safer, with two locks and I use it daily so its less likely to be stolen. But you never know…

Flowers

Flowers are popular in the Netherlands. On a sunny market day the flower stalls are so popular you may have to wait a while for your turn to be helped. Plus they always have so many different types and colours to choose from, beautifully making a bouquet of your choices. I’ve definitely become a fan of buying flowers every month!

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Even though tulips are originally from Turkey, it has become the flower of the Dutch. The Keukenhof is exreamely popular in the spring months when it’s open. If you love tulips and walking around decorated gardens then it is well recommended. The gardens have more than seven million tulips each year growing and well worth a visit.

Three Kisses

Having travelled to France yearly as a child, i knew their tradition of 4 kisses to greet someone who they knew well. However I didn’t really do it as i was still young. Since arriving in the Netherlands and being greeted by Lennart’s family, it’s something I have got used to. Going round the room and greeting everyone in this way is definitely welcoming. The usual three kisses goes left-right-left, but every now and then theres someone who wants to do it differently and you clash noses.