Tuesday, 22 April 2014

London, London England

After a wonderful time in the Netherlands I said some very sad goodbyes to some dear friends, packed my backpack and travelled back to the motherland: England. My journey took me about 12 hours and included 2 trains, a bus, a boat, and a couple more trains and a few walks. All through the night. It was quite the adventure and quite a few things went wrong but, those moments provided an opportunity to see my own growth. Whilst other traveler were enraged about delays and French workmen being on strike, I was able to let the stress go and trust that all would be fine. I have learnt that somethings matter in life and are worth worrying about and somethings are not. Taking longer to travel through Belgium or France en route to England was not something I was worried about. Leaving a pair of shoes in The Netherlands is not some thing to worry about, or loosing a Lacrosse ball some where between Belgium and France is also not worth worrying about.

(Side note: I don't always have the great power of discernment, and I regularly stress over things that are not really worth worrying about. In short, I am preaching to myself here).

I arrived in London, ate my breakfast on the steps of the National Gallery as I waited to meet an old University friend. We then took some time to take in some art (The Sir John Soane's Museum is a new favorite of mine), drink some amazing coffee and enjoy the glorious sunshine that has arrived with me. London, I shall always love returning to you.

Friday, 11 April 2014

today, and life lately

Today, my big brother is getting married. Today, my family grows and I gain a new sister and friend for life. It is times like this that my heart is stirred. I believe in a God who always has something more for us: something more to learn, something more to gain freedom in, something more to be healed in, something more to be blessed by and celebrate. Today my heart is stirring over love. Today I am thinking about love - the challenges it brings, and the joy that it brings. Today is a day of celebration and excitement for the beginning of a new season for my family and I.

Also, here is life lately according to Instagram. My brother's wedding marks the almost end to my European adventure (for now!) so here are a few memories caught on the faithful iPhone. Follow along with me on instagram here.

A gift from Mr. Handsome

All set with my beloved Osprey!

My old Dutch University Town

Gotta love Nespresso!

Freshman friends reunited!

A magical day in Bruges, Belgium

London Calling!

Oxford. Always in my heart.

My favorite library in the world

In love

The sunshine followed me everywhere!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bruges, part 2

My time in Bruges was magical. Fleeting, but magical none the less. Everywhere I looked, the sun shone and lit up spectacular buildings,  winding lanes, and chimneys. I was in full tourist mode and I snapped happily away with my camera for the few hours that I had in this enchanting city.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

time changes everything

It has been a really rich and good time thus far for me here in Europe. I have lived in the USA for the best part of three years, on and off a little, and I still have moment of extreme culture shock. Strangely enough the culture shock has been most intense over the past couple of months. Every time it arises, it surprises me and scares me. Just one too many "Oh you are Australian" jokes and one too many, "Do you know the Queen?" comments I was right back there: experiencing culture shock.

Culture shock is something that only people who have experiences living abroad can understand. It allows me to meet a German or Chinese student, also living in the USA, and be able to feel more connected with them for a moment that I feel with any of my American friends that I have seen every day for the past couple of years.

When people ask me to explain culture shock, all I can say is that, "it is awkward". I can be in the middle of a stats class at University, or sipping a coffee at Whole Foods or cycling across downtown and all of a sudden I will feel like I do not belong here; in this moment, I am not from here and I do not fit in. It is a bizarre and very overwhelming feeling.

Returning to The Netherlands was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me. However, it also allowed me closure to my fears that I was wrong to move to the USA after just one year of University there. I was able to walk the streets of beautiful Middelburg and know that it is not my home. My heart is not there....it is in Boise.

Time changes everything - it changes friendships and it changes hearts and it changes character. I was able to pick up some Dutch friendships like nothing had changed during the two years that I was away, whilst others just simply were no long there. I am learning that time changes things: it allows healing to take place and it allows love to grow deeper and stronger. I am trying to not fear this, but to just accept that things change and that is ok.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Bruges, part 1

On Tuesday I took myself off on a mini solo adventure from The Netherlands to Bruges in Belgium. This adventure included taking a train, a boat and then a bus. The trip was easy to navigate and my Dutch speaking skills helped me through. Although, I have learnt a valuable lesson. If you are an English speaking tourist on the Continent and you are lost or unsure in any way.....just go to the nearest Starbucks and I can guarantee you that the barista or a fellow customer can help you out (in English).

As soon as I landed last week in Amsterdam I visited Starbucks because I was desperate for a large cup of coffee - something the Dutch coffee stores don't really understand. I proudly ordered my cup of coffee with soya milk IN DUTCH only to have a frustrated barista look back at me, unimpressed, and say, "you mean you want a tall drip with soy?". Every Starbucks barista speaks English.....Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Brussels, Dallas, Seattle, London, Dublin.....just plain old English.

The barista in the Starbucks at the Bruges train station was extremely helpful; he provided me with a city map free of charge and even marked on his favorite places to walk and circled all the attractions that were "must-sees" for the three hours I had for my visit. And I didn't even buy coffee. Because, well, compared to the beautiful espressos available on every street corner on the Continent, the stuff Starbucks brews is crap. I took a million photos so, here is just part one of my adventure! I am sure glad that I took this trip. It was a spectacularly beautiful day and I loved every minute of walking the streets of Bruges.