On going Dutch

July 9, 2020

Dear Max and Rebecca

Since I last wrote, we have moved out our house, and made big plans for our relocation to Amsterdam. We’re currently staying in an Airbnb, days away from a big and exciting move.

It was just a few days after shiva (mourning period) for my mom that we got news that our house transfer had gone through, and we were then propelled into action – sorting, selling, giving away and packing, and all the emigration admin, with little time to pause and process what’s really going on.

So many people are asking why we’ve chosen Amsterdam. It was a strange part of the process, because we never really debated where to go. Amsterdam was the obvious choice from the start, and I’d never been there, so my choice was based on what was on paper, literally. We briefly mentioned Toronto right at the beginning of our first practical and “this is happening” emigration talks, but thought Europe might be better for us for now.

One of the big reasons we chose Amsterdam is that we have EU passports, but fortunately there are other things pulling us there, and from the moment our train arrived in Amsterdam from Paris in January during our visit, I was teary – the location just felt “right”.

It’s beautiful, English is widely spoken, and things work well. It’s the safest city in Europe, and the Netherlands is one of the top 10 safest countries in the world. It’s exciting to be in the middle of the world, and hours away from beautiful destinations (hello international marathons!), and my favourite Paris.

As with all decisions that affect you so profoundly, we can only hope that this is a good one for you. There is so much change, and the challenge of being in a Dutch school and having to integrate into a new culture and language so swiftly. I’ve felt this sadness about taking you way from people and things you love so much, and a few months ago I had deep guilt, and had this strange thought that you would never forgive us for uprooting you. These feelings have passed, and though we are cutting up your life here, we are hopefully cultivating an equally good life there, in different ways.

Max, one of the most heartbreaking sacrifices in all of this is leaving your dad, who has been a 50/50 parent to you, and a phenomenal father. I hate that it has come to this, but even at 10, you understand why a change is important, and you’re seeing the bigger picture. But it’s hard. And it hurts for everyone. Nothing about emigration is easy – for those who go, and for those who are left behind.

I’ll be setting up a new website to write about Amsterdam and our Dutch lives, and I’m so excited at the prospect of writing new content, and being creative in this way.

To new adventures and happiness,


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