American in Europe

Part 3 of School Daze in Holland: Grades

Getting straight A's is not a thing here in the Netherlands. School's here give you grades on a 10 point scale. Anything above a 5.5 is passing, anything above a 7 is considered good. I was told to never expect a 9. This took some adjustment as my whole life until I moved, I was on a number system, and then A's were 4 points, B's were 3 and so forth. 

I remember when I received my first grade of the year. It was a respectable 7.5 on a group project. The problem was, I didn't know how to feel. My group of very hard workers were all congratulating each other on a job well done, I wasn't  sure how much I should celebrate. I wanted to make it fit on my letter grade scale. Then my brain went to a 75, which would be a C where I am from. Who celebrates a C? 

That was when I was explained the you should be proud of a 7 and think of it more like a B. Because no one every gets 9's. Well, I am happy to say that thus far, I have received four 9's and even a completely unheard of 9.5. 

It is all about adjusting your expectations. 7.5 is my happiness limit, if I get below, I am pretty upset. It is important to note that the only grades received are those at the end of the period. Each period has one project, perhaps a portfolio or two and a few final exams. 

My grades are something I am pretty proud of this year, however I have failed an exam. I could go on with excuses about what all was going on in my life, (I was pretty depressed about all the deaths of people I cared about) but really I didn't study as much as I know that I could have. Now, if I was pursuing a degree in the States, this would mean that I would have to take the class over. In the Netherlands, it just means that I have to retake the exam. You can retake the test up to 5 times. You have to reach a certain number of points to make it out of each year, but if you fail one class it is not going to impact you that much, If you don't have enough points to pass the first year, you can not continue with that major. 

How does this compare to when and where you were in Uni?

Don't forget to check out:

Part One of School Daze in Holland: MBO, HBO or WO, Higher Education Levels or TV Channels?

Part Two of School Daze in Holland Series: You Better Like Your Classmates, You See Them Everyday.


Friday Links I Love Vol 3

I have officially turned into my mother. I don't know if it is homesickness or nostalgia, but lately I have been listening to a lot of bluegrass, folk and old school country. For years, I would bellyache on car trips when it was mom's turn to pick the music, my worst nightmares would be hearing Bonnie Raitt, Emmy Lou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt with my mom singing with her low, low singing voice. Yes, I was a pain in the ass, ungrateful teenager. Now I quite like my mom's singing. 

Lately, however I have found that my taste in music has ventured towards good ol' Americana. Mixed in with my Rilo Kiley, Decemberists, and Pixies playlists, Woody Guthrie, Dolly Parton, Old Crow Medicine Band, even Bonnie Ratt and Emmy Lou have found a place. My mother would be so proud. 

There are not a lot of links in this post, I basically just wanted to tell you that I joined the new Myspace, and I actually really like it there! Sure, it needs time to grow, but it is a really great space to discover new music. Won't you join me there? I'm hoping they can get more artists to join, because their influences section is spot on. 

What have you been listening to lately?

Oh and in case you are wondering, I only got to make one of the meals I was planning for this week. The Korean Beef, it was super yummy and incredibly easy to make. I highly recommend it, even though I only had two bites because I was a klutz and dumped all mine on the floor and broke a plate. 


The Last Queen's Day

Yesterday, we here in the Netherlands welcomed in our new monarchs. That's right, we now have a king, King Willem Alexander. I could go more into the monarchy, and maybe one day I will, but what is important for now is that yesterday was not only Queen's Day, next year we will have King's Day, but that it was the last one for the foreseeable future. Last year, the Verlo and I braved the trains and ventured up to Amsterdam. This year with the stepping down of the Queen taking place in Amsterdam, we decided to forgo the insane crowd and stay in Utrecht, after all, I have never celebrated Queen's Day in my home city. 

One thing I noticed is that in Amsterdam the crowds are everywhere, in Utrecht they are in a few key areas around the city. I also noticed a lot more performers in Utrecht that I did last year, but that could just be that I walked around and last year we found a great spot and stayed there. Either way, Queen's Day is awesome!

There was music everywhere!

These kids were playing Smoke on the Water, pretty impressive at their age!

And these girls were singing the Andrew's Sisters, I love how eclectic the city is. 

One of the things about Queen's Day is that it is the only day of the year where markets are free to have. Hence you get everyone sharing their junk! 

This little girl was dressed as Pippi Longstocking. Fun fact about me, the year I went as Pippi for Halloween was my favorite costume ever!

And of course, some people party a bit too hard. I have no idea where this guy thought he was going to climb to, but he was unsuccessful. 

Off course, you need to have lots of orange decorations!

The Dutch may love Willem's wife, the newly crowned Queen Maxima, even more than the king.

Have you ever been in the Netherlands for Queen's Day?


Announcing May's Expat Blogger Brunch

With the success and general merriment of our last blogger brunch, Lily and I have already started organizing the May edition. Open to bloggers of all ages, expat, and blogging experiences, won't you join us on May 19th for brunch in Amsterdam? 

Just as a refresher, here are the aims of the brunches:

  • Generate a creative, social form
  • Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
  • Cultivate Social Media contacts into real life connections
  • Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
  • Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events

Sound like your cup of tea? Just be one of the first 15 people to RSVP by May 10th and you are in! Just send your reply to


Friday Links I Love Vol.2- Meal Plan Edition.

Links I Love

I can't believe it has been a week since the last time I talked to you guys. To be fair, as the Verlo pointed out last night, he hadn't seen me in a week either. Clearly something has got to change if I haven't had a home cooked meal in about a month.Luckily, next week is a welcome break. I have the whole week off of school to celebrate my favorite Dutch holiday, and I am only working three days! Looks like it is time to go back to my meal planning ways, which is what today's links I love is all about. Sharing with you the recipes I am going to make for the upcoming week. I am so excited to be cooking y'all.


Let's start with Sunday. Since I am going to go see some of my wonderful friends at O'Leary's play traditional Irish folk songs, I think I am going to en the day with Guinness Soup from My Baking Addiction.

I'm working Monday night, so this will be a great thing to bring for my lunch. For the rest of the week, I am planning on making this Honey Chicken Salad from Running to the Kitchen for lunch.

Tuesday is Queen's Day and I will be gone all day and drunk-this is what you on Queen's Day, don't pretend otherwise.

Wednesday I am thinking of trying some Korean Beef from Lizzy Writes. Quick and easy since May 1st should be known as National Dutch Hangover Day.

Thursday I am also thinking quick an easy with this Chicken and Kale Casserole from Serious Eats and Martha Stewart. I'm in such a kale mood lately, that I may even make some Kale Chips to snack on, you can make the 10 different ways from Refinery 29. Did I tell you that I joined a gym?

Saturday I am working and the weekends are normally when the Verlo takes over dinner. Yep, I have a good one! I'll let you know how everything turns out since I have never made these recipes before. And, I promise next week you will once again be a priority in my life.



Friday Links I Love Vol. 1

Links I Love

I read an impossible number of blogs. After all, I was an Online Content Manager in another life. I am obsessed and if any of my favorite bloggers recommend another blog, I will not hesitate to read them. Which is why I decided to spread the love around and have a Links I Love post on Fridays. I think it is only fitting that my first edition would be based on the ladies who attended mine and Lily's Expat Blogger Brunch. I honestly love reading these ladies blogs, and I think you will enjoy them as well.

Lily of Lily Wanderlust: Whether she is writing about daily life in Amsterdam, or sharing some of her great travel adventures, Lily is such a vibrant and energetic person and that even translates very well on her blog. She also loves Amsterdam and loves to show of some of the different sides of the city that you have to be a local to know about. 

Monique of Mo Travels: Mother, runner, social media enthusiast, expat. These are just some of the things that descibe Monique. Check out her blog for all her travels and to see what life is like for an expat who has really established roots.

Allison of The Nomad Cooks: After spending a few years in Asia, Allison is making a pit stop in Amsterdam before moving on to other places. Take in her blog for all her marvelous adventures. 

Amanda of Poppies and Ice Cream and Tartas y Pinceles: Amanda is a truly sweet girl from Mexico who now lives with her hubby in Den Haag (The Hague) You can follow her personal blog, or check out her new business venture, CAKES! 

Emily of  The Dutch Tales: Fresh off the boat and living in my neck of the Netherlands, check out Emily's newly established blog for another view on the surrounding Utrecht area. 

Sarah of Life in a State of Wanderlust: You may remember Sarah from my For the Love of Travel Series. She just recently moved from the South of the Netherlands to the beautiful town of Haarlem. She loves soccer and Spanish and really misses cheez-its. Don't we all!

Gaby of Holland Daze: Gaby was one of the first expats I met here in the Netherlands. In fact, we even started talking on twitter before I moved! Gaby lives in Den Haag. I love her blog and maybe if I get her some more hits she will start blogging again more often?

Who are your favorite bloggers? 



Our First Blogger Brunch

Yesterday it was finally time for our Expat Blogger Brunch. Honestly, we could not have planned a better day weather wise. In the end, there were 9 of us girls. It was a great brunch, okay maybe the food could have been a bit better, but the conversations and fellowships that developed were right on par with what Lily and I were hoping. Sometimes it is just so great to be surrounded with other people that you can relate to in a city that you love. 

expat blogger brunch Utrecht

After brunch, a smaller group of us went for a walk around the city. The sun was shining, there were dance events and it is the 300th anniversary of the Peach of Utrecht. We wandered around the city in the sunshine. Don't let that coat in the picture up there fool you, it was soon time that I regretted the fact that I had any sleeves on at all. Which for those of you who don't live or visit the Netherlands often, you can't realize how big of a deal this is in the rainy often cold country I call home.

The day ended at least for me, with drinks at the Louis Hartlooper Complex. I had the Maximus Brutus  beer from a local brewery here in Utrecht that I didn't even know existed. Turns out, it is actually right by my house, anyone down for a brewery tour? 

To the ladies who came, thank you so much! You made my Sunday awesome and I hope you also had a great time. For those of you who couldn't make it, Lily and I have already started planning for next month, we will keep you posted with more info when we have it.


Check back in on Friday where I will have my first ever link up and share the blogs of our April attendees. 



Sorry I was M.I.A last week. I was dealing with finals and depression over losing five people in one week to some incredibly tragic events. I used planning a blogger brunch and Lily's birthday as an escape from my sadness, but mainly I have been incredibly unfocused. I also think that my recent poor time management skills have finally took their toll on me. I'm not going to pretend that I am the busiest person in the world, but I have been having a hard time juggling all my different hats: full-time student, almost full-time employee, full-time blogger, live-in fiancée , home-maker, studier of two languages, over an hour each way commuter, aspiring foodie, caller of the mother and grandmother, distance friender, close friender, and avid reader to name a few. You maybe saying holy cow Batman, slow your roll. But, the truth is I thrive on being busy. If I don't have things to do I become the laziest person on the entire planet. 

The thing is, I used to be incredibly good at time management. I'm not the only one who thinks so, I was once praised on my skills by my Freshman experience adviser. But, I think the 8 months after I moved abroad and didn't have a job or a set schedule really took their toll. Since I am trying to get back on track, I thought that maybe I would share my process of becoming a better time manager here on the blog. Maybe we can help each other out. 

The picture above is my schedule for next week when classes start again. This is my normal schedule except that sometimes I will work 3 days a week, some weeks 4. I also almost never have a weekend day off, it just so happens that I am going to a bachelorette party on Saturday. 

I think the first step to any good time management is to make a list of all the things you have to do each week and then put them on a calendar so you can see what your week already looks like. Then you can add in the things that you want to do. *Important note, you may notice that catching up on other blogs and blogging are added onto the above calendar of what I have to do. That is because talking to you guys on here is one of the highlights of my week so I make sure it is in the have to do list. 

What would your have to do list look like? Do you feel that you are good at time management? 


Join us for an Expat Blogger Brunch!

expat blogger brunch april

Have you ever wondered what your favorite blogger is really like? 
Have you ever thought about how this blogger gets those awesome button’s on their site or how they seemed to inburgen themselves so well to Dutch culture? 
Do you ever want to ask me what on Earth I am blathering on about? Of course you do! 
Well, you are in luck! If you live in the Netherlands and have a blog, because Lily from Lily Wanderlust and I are going to host a monthly Expat Blogger Brunch starting this month!
The idea behind Expat Blogger Brunch is to...
-Generate a creative, social forum
-Expand your experience abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
-Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
-Cultivate social media contacts into real life connections 
-Inspire one another through topic discussions and special events
If you have a blog, and are an expat living the Netherlands, we would like to invite you to join us in Utrecht on Sunday April 15th for the (first ever!) Expat Blogger Brunch!
Want to join us? Simply RSVP via email to GAPeachAbroad[at]gmail[dot]com by Thursday, April 11!
Please keep in mind our first official meeting is limited to 15 participants on a first come, first serve basis.
If you can’t make it this month feel free to follow along with us on twitter and instagram [hashtag #expatbloggersnl]



Big Easy Express

Last week was no good. Well, I mean there was some good, I got to hang out with two blogger buds. But other than that, no good. First on Monday, I got slammed into an OV Chipkaart check out machine on the bus. If you don't know what that is, it is a metal machine that you check in and out of busses, metros, trains, and water buses here in the Netherlands. Then on Tuesday, I got into my first bike accident. Lily will tell you that it doesn't count, but it totally gave me a limp so it does. Basically, I was straddling the back of her bicycle (how we roll in the NL) and she ran me into a parked van. Not her fault, it was the parked van or the crazy van coming towards us on a narrow Amsterdam street. It wasn't a bad accident at all, with the except that my leg got caught on the van and extended a bit unnaturally backwards. So, I strained my hip muscle. Oh, and then on Friday I got food poisoning at work. Told you, the week was NO GOOD! 

Well, actually Amanda helped me with my Spanish by watching Volver with me(minus subtitles, I'm so proud) and Loek and I watched the Big Easy Express, which I loved! If you haven't seen/heard of it, this music documentary follows Mumford and Son, Old Crow Medicine Band, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as they ride a train on tour from California to New Orleans. You should know by now that I love trains! Unless you are a new reader. If so, welcome I LOVE TRAINS. I also love bands that make me feel like I should put on a cotton dress, braid my unwashed hair and drink out of a mason jar, which all three of the aforementioned bands make me want to do. So, if you are in a bad mood or a good mood, do us a favor and watch this hour long documentary. 

Also, you check out the music video below of This Train is Bound for Glory. Which according to Loek I have been listening non-stop since we say the documentary. Hey, I can help it if I love Woody Guthrie. 





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