The Dutchman’s Guide to Fitting In

I am an American citizen. I am also a Dutch citizen. This means I get to pick and choose which passport I want to travel on, and when I want to identify either the Dutch or the Americans as a ‘they’, or as an ‘us’. Since I currently live in the UK, I often find myself talking about both the Dutch and Americans as ‘they’ these days. Today, however, I’ll be wearing my Dutch hat.

Not this one, thank god.
Not this one, thank god.

When I moved to the Netherlands seven years ago I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pretty confident that my status as a long-time TCK would help me to deal with whatever came my way. I am used to being immersed in new cultures (for better or for worse), and I am used to having to adapt and fit in quickly. What I definitely didn’t expect was that I would learn a thing or two from the Dutch about this process.

When choosing a nationality for the character of Goldmember (in the 2002 movie of the same title), Mike Myers wanted someone from ‘a place that nobody has an axe to grind with’. How do you develop that kind of status as a nation? Partly by financing half the world and providing vital trade to the other half, partly by becoming known as ‘that place where weed is legal’ (again, a savvy sales tactic), and partly by encouraging its citizens to become expert blenders.

So here, as my gift to you, is the Dutchman’s three-step guide to fitting in. Use it wisely. Continue reading

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Loving and Leaving Morocco

“Inshallah!”…Wait, Does That Mean Never?

Just two weeks ago, I packed up all of my earthly possessions and moved lock, stock, and barrel halfway across the globe. Okay, no. I packed up two bags, two carry-ons, and sold or donated the rest. Airlines these days are not particularly on board with the whole “But I need more luggage, this is a FOREVER move!” concept.

When we talk about moving halfway across the globe, we always picture far off lands, exotic environments, and lots of adventure. Though this is true, in my case the adventure is coming home. I have spent the last few years living in Morocco, and now it was finally time to return to the exoticness that is Washington State.

Morocco—the very word breathes adventure and mystery. Desert landscapes, camel caravans, and towering mounds of spices. Each time I visit home, people have asked me if it is dangerous, if there is unrest all over the place, and “Is it in any way more liberal than Saudi Arabia?” (Practically anywhere is more liberal than Saudi Arabia.)

I have come to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions about this beautiful country, which is a pity given that it is such a wonderful place. Continue reading

How to Choose Your Travel Gear

via The Huffington Post

Choosing your travel gear is an important step before setting out on any adventure. As obvious as it sounds, many people an unequipped to travel efficiently. Here are a few tips on choosing the right travel gear for you.

Your travel gear should be both lightweight and durable. You will have numerous kinds to choose from, depending on your travel variables. For example, for how long will you be traveling, and will you be able to do laundry? Are you sturdy enough to carry everything in a backpack, or do you need a rolling suitcase?  Before choosing among your existing gear, or shopping for something new, make a list of these variables, as well as the things you are planning to pack. Continue reading

“The Forgotten Seamstress” by Liz Trenow

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There is nothing I love better than realizing an author I already admire has written more than one book. Such was the case with Liz Trenow, author of The Last TelegramThe Forgotten Seamstress, her second novel, interweaves the stories of two women in England who are connected by a mysterious quilt.

The first character we meet is Maria, who is telling her life story to someone we cannot see. What the audience encounters is Maria’s memories via voice recordings and transcripts. Maria recounts her early years to a faceless young woman, explaining how she was raised in an orphanage before going to work at Buckingham Palace as an assistant seamstress. While there, she fell in love (and in bed) with the Prince Royal, whom she calls David. We know him as the historical figure of King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936. Continue reading

Jack the Ripper Museum, London

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1888 newspaper cutting

If you’re currently in London and looking for something Halloween-ish to pass the time, consider passing by the newly opened Jack the Ripper Museum in Whitechapel. Open every day from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, the controversial and interactive museum gives visitors the perspective of the victims, inviting you to solve the mysterious and chilling crimes.

Recently voted the World’s Creepiest Museum, it houses the largest collection of original Jack the Ripper artifacts in the world. Check out their promotional video below!