So, what is keeping us here? *** Sta nas to drzi ovde?

I remember someone saying that when an expat reaches the 10-year mark in their new country it is safe to say that they’ll be staying there for good. Mark and I have recently passed this magic mark. I think most of our family and friends have sort of gotten used to the fact that we live here but we still get the “what is keeping you there” question, openly asked or implied. And as this whole blog is sort of an online journal for Una and Nestor and I am sure that one day they’ll be wondering why their parents chose to plant their roots  here or wherever else we’ll be I thought that it would be neat to write down how we feel now.

Both of us came here for a very specific reason (getting a PhD) and then stayed a bit longer for another specific reason (getting an EU passport). Fast forward 5 years, we are still here, with a house (a tussenwoning or row house, of course), one child in a Dutch school, 4 red passports and 3.5 bicycles – it doesn’t look like we’ll be going anywhere any time soon. There must be another specific reason, sure?

It actually is quite simple and comes down to the (for us) great work-family balance that we have going on here. Both of us are doing what we want (or getting there), while working 4 days a week and coming home in time for dinner. Also, the environment and societal values match pretty well with how we want to raise our children (I am sure it makes my mum happy to see that not only have I turned out a socialist after all but have also married a socialist-lite :)). Did it mean that we had to pass up some great opportunities from other parts of the world? With a higher salary and opportunities to move up (up where?) faster? Check and check. Neither of them took more than an evening of thinking time to realise that what we would be giving up here was not worth it. Simple. A fellow expat friend of ours, an Aussie married to a Dutchie and settled here, was once telling me about the childhood she had, the horses, the green fields, the whole nine yards and I asked her what on earth they were still doing in The Netherlands. She said: “Honey, if we could find jobs there where we would work 4 days a week AND be able to pay our $$$ mortgage, we would be on the plane – right now.” That about sums it up.

Do we still dream of hot, slow summer afternoons on which we would sit on our porch with our families and friends and watch all our children run barefoot chasing butterflies? Crisp, white winter mornings sitting on the same porch (there is always a porch!) sipping mulled wine, watching the kiddies build a snowman and warming their little frozen fingers? Sure. We are still looking for that closet leading to Narnia.


Nekad davno sam cula da kad provedes 10 godina u zemlji u kojoj se nisi rodio da su sanse velike da ces tu i ostati. Mark i ja smo proslavili gastarbajtersku 10-godisnjicu, i jos smo ovde. Vecina nasih prijatelja i clanova porodica su manje-vise prihvatili cinjenicu da je nasa adresa ovde, ali se pitanje “sta vas drzi tamo?” tu i tamo ipak provuce. I posto je ovaj blog na neki nacin pisana zaostavstina za Unu i Nestora i sigurna sam da ce se jednog dana pitati zasto smo se odlucili da bas ovde pustimo korenje cinilo mi se kao dobra ideja da zapisem ono sto sad mislimo.

I Mark i ja smo ovde dosli (nezavisno jedno od drugog) zbog vrlo konkretnog razloga, da zavrsimo PhD. I onda ostali jos par godina zbog takodje prilicno konkretnog razloga – da dobijemo EU pasos. Ali 5 godina kasnije mi smo i dalje ovde, sa kucom (tipicno holandskom), jednim detetom u holandskoj skoli, 4 crvena pasosa i 3.5 bicikla – ne izgleda da cemo bilo kuda da mrdamo.

Razlog je vrlo jednostavan, i svodi se na (za nas) sjajan balans izmedju porodicnog i poslovnog zivota. Oboje imamo posao koji smo trazili, radimo 4 dana u nedelji i kuci smo na vreme za porodicnu veceru. I drustveno uredjenje i norme se podudaraju sa onim kako bi smo mi zeleli da vaspitavamo Unu i Nestora. Naravno da je bilo prilika koje bi nam pruzile dosta vecu finansijsku stabilnost i mogucnost napredovanja ali ni o jednoj od njih nismo mislili vise od jednog dana, ono sto bi smo izgubili nije vredno toga. Jedna nasa prijateljica, Australijanka udata za Holandjanina i takodje zive ovde mi je jednom prilikom pricala o tome kako je ona odrasla, o konjima, i zelenim prostranstvima i svemu ostalom i ja sam je pitala koji djavo njih dvoje traze ovde. Ona mi je jednostavno odgovorila “Hej, kad bi smo tamo mogli da nadjemo posao na kom bi smo mogli da radimo 4 dana u nedelji i da otplacujemo papreni kredit za kucu mi bi smo istog trenutka bili u avionu!”

Da li mi i dalje sanjarimo o vrucim letnjim popodnevima u kojima sedimo na verandi sa nasim porodicama i prijateljima dok gledamo svu nasu decicu kako trckaraju po travi? Svezim, zimskim jutrima na istoj verandi, dok pijemo kuvano vino i gledamo decicu kako prave sneska i trljamo njihove promrzle prstice da se ugreju? Naravno. I dalje trazimo taj orman koji vodi u Narniu.



Filed under Life in Delft, Raising multilingual children, work-life (im)balance

2 responses to “So, what is keeping us here? *** Sta nas to drzi ovde?

  1. Love this post! Especially love the question ‘up where?’…sometimes I think it’s hard for my incredibly driven mother (who worked from the bottom to near the top of her field) to understand my lack of that desire…it sure does come at a price.

    And YES YES YES there must always be a porch! Sometimes Dave and I look at houses (just as a fantasy/torture device, you know) back home and if the don’t have a porch or a place to build one…cross it off the list!

    • Lane – do we have the same mother :)?

      I am sure you will find a lovely house (with a porch of course!) once you decide to settle back home. I will then live vicariously through you since short of marrying U or N into the royal family (and they are just such an… uninteresting bunch and I like my children :)) our chances of having a house with a porch in NL are zero.

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