One Year.

3rd September 2015, 3.15pm. I was standing in Liverpool airport with my mum as she wipes away my tears, check-in assistants eyeing us up with faces of professional concern. Whilst tears are pretty standard for me in an aiport due to my crippling fear of flying, this time my hysterics were nothing to do with planes. I was about to move to Amsterdam, moving in with B for a new adventure in a country where I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a real job. I was pretty frightened, and standing there in the airport with my bags packed full of my necessities and home comforts, I didn’t feel at all ready to embark on this great, adult adventure. I remember wishing more than anything that I could get back in the car with mum, driving home and pretending none of this had ever happened.

It’s hard to believe that that was more than a year ago now, and things could not be more different.

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24 hours with Z.

As much as I like to harp on about exploring Amsterdam and getting to know my new city, nothing quite makes you step out of your routine and try something new than having a visitor. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a great sense of responsibility whenever someone comes to town, and I love planning a vague itinerary of things they might like to do, see and eat. This time, it was the turn of Z, a university friend who I hadn’t seen for far too long.

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Notes to August.

Finally, some good news! After a little bit ( OK a lot) of ranting throughout June and July, August finally saw a turn in fortune. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s that summer feeling, or maybe it’s the fact that I had a fair few holidays and trips away lined up (indeed I write this from a sofa in Italy in that special gap between one pizza and another), but I have emerged from the month of August feeling more than a little bit victorious.

In August I caught up with old friends, spent time in my favourite city, took the plunge and started a new hobby, felt the sunshine on my skin and somehow even found the time to whip up some falafel. Not bad at all.

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Budapest.

My college girlfriends and I are beginning to establish a rather wonderful tradition. Last year we spent the final week of August soaking up the sights and the sunshine in Lisbon, stuffing our faces with natas (a love that will never fade), wine and the Portuguese classic that is duck confit. The day after we came back I moved out to Amsterdam; a very stressful few days of whistling through various places in Europe, but all in all having such a wonderful week just before a scary move really helped me to get through those first few weeks and months. Knowing that I had a strong support network behind me kept me going in those dark moments when it seemed like I’d never find my foothold here.

Well, fast forward a year and the Lisbon effect was beginning to fade. Months had passed since I’d had a good old chat with my girls, and every time I logged on to Facebook I was confronted with yet more wonderful events that I’d missed out on. I wasn’t sure if I could just pick up the phone and reach out to them, given that it had been so long and they all seemed so busy getting on with their own lives and generally other things. I was beginning to feel a little out of the loop, a little lost and more than a little bit lonely.

Our little trip to Budapest then, came just at the right time.

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Delft.

So I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost a year now (preparations are well and truly underway for the inaugural Amster-versary) and I’ve yet to explore much beyond my beloved three canal rings of Amsterdam. Sure we’ve done a couple of day trips here and there – Tilburg, s’Hertogenbosch, Den Haag – but I wouldn’t really say we’re any great connoisseurs of all things Dutch. Yet.

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Notes to July.

I’m acutely aware that I’m starting to sound like a complainer, but July was a tough month. With things at work still at fever pitch and the pressure piling on, B being away with work and the realisation that perhaps I haven’t made quite as many friends in Amsterdam as I would’ve liked, my anxiety has been worse than it has been in a good while. I was meant to go to Vienna to see one of my close friends who’s living over there, but I just couldn’t do it, and I’ve spent the rest of the month not-so-quietly beating myself up about it.

So when I came to writing this post I was a little doubtful about just what I’d find to talk about that wasn’t wah my life is rubbish I don’t go anywhere wah. But I was actually pretty surprised to see just how many lovely photos and memories I have from this month alone. In fact, I have more photos from July than I had for June and May. This is pretty much the reason I started this blog – my anxiety and depressive tendencies can mean that I sometimes don’t see the wood for the trees, so to speak. This means that I often get in destructive cycles of thinking where I think that I have no friends, I never do anything interesting and that I’m just generally a failure. Once you’ve become convinced of all this things, it’s pretty tough to get the energy to go outside and face your fears. But looking back on photos and writing this blog forces me to see that that’s not actually the case. The act of writing has always been pretty cathartic for me, but writing this blog is a whole other level; after furiously typing out a few paragraphs I can already feel myself feeling more appreciative and positive about myself and my experiences here in Amsterdam. It’s a wonderful feeling; I just need to remember to keep it up!

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Paris.

My feelings on Paris are pretty easy to sum up:

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

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