Earlier this week we had a wonderful celebration of sorts.
Despite being late December, we weren’t celebrating the Dutch Second Christmas (Tweede Kerstdaag) or the British Boxing Day.
Instead, we were celebrating the end of Bryan and Danielle’s (current) adventure in Nederland.
I first heard from Danielle back in the summer when she contacted me with some questions about living in the Netherlands in general, and The Hague in particular.
A third year law student back in sunny California, she and her husband were arriving in August so that she could do a legal internship with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). Bryan would do some career rethinking while enjoying a little down time. Both would savor an international experience.
Fellow adventurers may recall that I wrote previously about Danielle and the important work of the ICTY in Bearing Witness. By then we’d emailed several times back and forth, and she and Bryan had arrived and settled in.
We met for koffie in late September, and I was amazed at how much they had done in terms of getting out and about, figuring out how Dutch society and infrastructure work and traveling quite a bit on weekends. Having only been in the country for a little over a month at that point (and staying only three months more), Bryan had signed up for an introductory course in Dutch and was up to his ears in verbs and vocabulary.
The three of us met again in November, and spoke at length about similarities and differences between the two cultures. They weren’t merely sitting on the sidelines, checking things out while biding their time until they returned to the US: they were getting involved, trying things, meeting people, pushing the envelope.
Even more than the enthusiasm and energy with which they had jumped into life here, I was amazed at how nuanced their insights were. Both had come to love living here, and would have liked to stay but for tricky things like finishing law school, finding jobs and getting new visas.
So this week’s celebration was in our home, the day before they left to visit friends in Turkey en route back to California. They were dropping off some last minute items they wouldn’t be needing as they moved out of their apartment; we’d either make use of them or find them a good home. It’s what expats do: help each other out.
They met Husband, Son and Daughter. Oli was smitten with them and rarely strayed from their feet. We toasted the holidays and nibbled on appetizers, and spent a couple hours in relaxed, amiable conversation.
As we chatted in the darkening afternoon, I remember thinking how it was too bad such a lovely young couple was leaving. But there was no sadness, because they had enjoyed the experience of a lifetime, and proven themselves to be great adventurers.
They were off on a quick vacation exploring yet another country, and then would return to the US ready to move on with their lives. Perhaps it will include another overseas adventure.
Knowing them, the future will be bright indeed.