Year #3, and still going...
Trip Start Apr 06, 2003
69Trip End Ongoing
I can't believe it's been 3 years!!! And we just extended our visa for another year (#4). We also know with certainty that we won't make it the full 365. We'll be moving back to Chitown sometime around Sept or Oct. We have extreme mixed feelings about this as we have absolutely loved living in A'dam and despite the difficulties, love our lives here. But 3 years is a pretty good run and there are some really great things about moving back.
How much has changed in those 3 years! To start with, you might have noticed that the amount of t-pods have greatly reduced recently...I guess this is what happens with fatherhood, you no longer have time for things other than the family. To be fair, I never realized how much I would love laying on the floor staring at and playing with this crazy little monkey.
Natalie is already 10 months old and is crawling everywhere. We have slowly begun to baby-proof the apartment and the house is bursting at the seams with colorful plastic things for her to play with. She still sleeps in bed with us, mostly because we love having her near us and it hurts when she cries, but we have been trying to get her into her crib a little bit - we're up to about 90 minutes before she realizes that we're not in there with her. She's eating all sorts of things now with her fav being bananas and steamed brocoli. In an effort to keep her from slowing us down, the kid has 3 friggin' strollers (the bugaboo for battling the cobblestone and stairs around A'dam, a jogging stroller so mom can keep up her regiment at the park, and an umbrella stroller for easier travelling).
On the work front, all is going great. About 6 months ago I transitioned into a new role, out of risk management and back into a client-facing position. I work with Dutch subs of LaSalle clients. A huge portion of my job deals with internal politics as both the US and the NL organizations are home markets of ABN AMRO and have complex policies and ways of doing things which makes my role so vital. I knew my job would entail some internal politics but unfortunately, it takes up a much larger part than I anticipated so my customer interaction is fairly limited. That being said, it is highly rewarding when I am able to find solutions and work-arounds to these internal issues. And so far, I know I have done quite an amazing job. But it is also time to take what I have learned at ABN AMRO and apply it to what I can do at the bank. I have always said that moving abroad was not about my career but I now feel very comfortable that it hasn't been a bad career move. Much different from the uncertainty of last year's t-pod, I know where I am going in the bank. With 6 months in this 'international banker' role, I will have another 6ish months to continue learning about the organization and the needs of our international clients before moving back to Chicago to work on the outbound-side. I know who my boss will be (someone I am already reporting to) and I am really excited about that as Colleen really seems to be a great manager - she is a good communicator, enables her staff and helps them develop. In addition, she has moved around the bank a bit, including an assignment in A'dam, so I think she will know a bit about what I am experienced and can offer. All in all, I am really excited about how the work-side developed and look forward to getting back to LaSalle.
That brings us to our travelling. With 6ish months left, we have a lot of Europe to still see. And we have pretty ambitious plans set already. We are travelling to Normandie this coming week with my mom. Later this month, I have work in the Paris office so Julie and Natalie will be coming with me and I'll take a few vacation days and the weekends to see the chateau region of the Loire Valley. In mid-May we are going to the Greek island of Santorini for a couple nights and then off to Crete for a week of ancient ruins, beautiful countryside, rustic fishing villages, and relaxing in the sand and sea. We are really looking forward to the Greek islands! Then in mid-June, we are meeting Julie's parents in Shannon for a week of exploring the Irish countryside. All of this before July! Phew, I'm exhausted already! I also expect to be going to the Warsaw office for work as well and will take a couple days and the weekends to see a bit of Warsaw and also Krakow and think we'll be taking one last week-long trip before moving home in Sept/Oct - either Portugal or Rome for a few days coupled with the Tuscan town of Lucca.
While we have travelled quite extensively, the end of this journey is coming near which means it's time to be grown-ups and settle down a bit. Unfortunately the travel has had a HUGE impact on our savings account so we'll be busy looking for a condo in the city but I wonder if we'll be able to afford anything other than renting a studio apartment (maybe Joey will take a couple boarders). We are really excited to be moving home to be closer to our family and settle down a bit - and of course, 3+ years abroad is quite an experience! We will miss a ton from our lives here, there is no doubt of that! We have met some great friends from all over the world! We have been exposed to different cultures, points-of-view, etc and that has been as important as the travel. The challenge will be how to take some of that with us back to Chicago and not fall back into our former 'sheltered' lives. But I think we're different people now and will be able to do it.
All in all, we are very happy with how things have worked out over the past 3 years and while we will be sad to say goodbye to A'dam, we look forward to coming home!
Hope all is well wherever you are.
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