Did you like my Throwback Travel Series about Marrakech, Morocco? I hope so! I loved going through my pictures from those sunny days, especially with the cold, rain and wind around me at the moment.
Because the last couple of months I am/was in the Netherlands. Soon I am heading back to the warmth of my second home and life which is in Singapore.
That is how my life goes down, since september 2009. Three months in Haarlem in the Netherlands, then three months in Singapore, etcetera etcetera. A true double life; living in two countries. With in each place a home, a normal daily life, friends and activities.
This situation was not planned; my husband just happened to get a job offer in Singapore. We did not have to think or talk long about it though. We both are quite cosmopolitan and we love traveling, other countries and warm weather. There are cities and countries where we would not want to live for all sorts of reasons, but Singapore is fantastic!
Strangely enough, this is not the first time that I am living in two countries. In 1999 I met a French-Canadian in Buenos Aires (Argentina). We fell in love and that was the beginning of a double life for each of us. We lived three months in Montreal, Canada, then three months in Haarlem, the Netherlands, etcetera. We did this until 2005, for six years, when we broke up.
Fortunately I loved Montreal, and I had a complete life there with many friends and tango dancing.
People often wonder how it is to live in two countries like I do. Often they assume that it must be an exciting life with double fun, so to speak. And yes, clearly it is a less ‘common’ life then living and working in Haarlem, for example.
For someone who’s interested in other countries, cultures, people, and traveling, it is a life with a lot of opportunities. You will not easily get bored. I definitely can not complain!
The warm weather, exploring new things, a lot to be amazed about every day; what’s NOT to like?!
Ofcourse there is also a down-side. As much as it can be a double life with double fun, other times it feels like only half a life with half the fun in each of the two places.
One day you feel blessed and ‘rich’ with the best of both worlds, being at home in two cities far apart. Another day you may feel without roots, drifting, not belonging, falling between two stools. Feeling home, but not belonging.
There are goodbyes all the time, missing loved ones, missing out (celebrations, birthdays), jetlags to overcome.
Talking about jetlags, I don’t like flying, to put it mildly. Meaning that I have a (manageable) fear of flying. But even without fear of flying, flights of 13 hours in crowded planes with almost no personal space and crying children around you is not really a picknick for anyone, I think. And these flights cost a lot of money!
About two weeks before I shift from one life to the other, that change is on my mind. I start thinking about things I want to finish, people I want to see before I leave and about what to pack.
My last week is the worst. I am in a no-man’s-land; already detached from the place where I am, while not yet landed in the country where I am heading to. There are nervous butterflies in my stomach, a blue mood, restlessness and my nights are lousy.
Then the moment is there; “I’m leaving….on a jet plane….”. I set my mind on the automatic pilot (pun intended;-)), shutting out as much as possible my thoughts and fear of flying. A big sigh of relief when I arrive safely. Pfjew!
The week after my arrival I try to overcome and minimalize my jetlag. Sometimes that goes pretty well and fast, other times I struggle a bit more.
The first days I feel as if I am not 100% there yet. It takes me some time to ‘land’ and feel home again. Week two there is a lot of practical stuff to be done, from maintenance to subscriptions and shopping for groceries.
Resuming, I would say that each transition and adaptation costs me at least two weeks, sometimes more. Followed by 10 to 11 ‘normal’ weeks, then 2 to 4 weeks of change/adaptation, etcetera.
It is not necessarily a peaceful, calm life, it’s not a life with a lot of routines, with feeling settled in all the time. But it sure is not boring!
In a country like Singapore, expats come and go, so over time also your foreigner-friends will come and go. I have two local friends and three expat friends. The latter three all told me in november last year that they were moving out of Singapore. Those moments are not funny. But it’s all in the cosmopolitan game. It means I will have to make an effort to make new friends in 2015 in Singapore.
Usually I am in Holland in summer and in winter. Summertime can be lovely in the Netherlands. The summer of 2014 e.g. was simply beautiful and I had such a great time in Haarlem!
Winter in the Netherlands, like now, is always a bit more of a challenge for me, because I really, really hate cold, wind, rain, grey skies and the combination of all that. The short days, the lack of light…. NOT like!
But, enjoying wherever you are, with whomever, is a challenge, an art, a talent. And I can say that I became pretty good at it!
In my next post I will give you a photographic impression of these past months in Holland. Despite winter, I had a good time with lots of fun activities and dear friends and family.
Are you a winter person? Do you like the change and variety brought on by the seasons? Does your mood get influenced by (the lack of) daylight?
Have you ever lead a double life in the sense of living in two countries? Did you enjoy it? Are you good at adapting and with changes?