The laid back approach to raising bilingual children

We all know that learning a language as a child is a hell of a lot easier than learning one as an adult. Their little brains are like sponges and children can make learning a language look like a stroll in the park. That is why exposing our children to a second (third, or more!) language is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

However, parents of bilingual children and professionals in this field can be quite opinionated in the correct method of raising bilingual or trilingual children. What is the best way to ensure your children are able to speak more than one language?  There are so many strategies. Do you go with the “One Person, One Language (OPOL)” approach, meaning that one of the child’s parents always speaks one language, and the other always speaks a different language? Or maybe the “Minority Language at Home (ML@H)” method, where everyone speaks the same language at home which is not the dominant language in the surrounding community?

There are also so many questions that are expected to be answered when you are preparing to become parents to bilingual children; Who speaks which languages, When specific languages are spoken, and Which languages the child is expected to use. Should you always speak only your mother tongue language to your children? Simultaneous language development or sequential second language learning? It can all be quite overwhelming if you let it. I really do not believe that it needs to be so cut and dry, so black or white. So I’d like to tell you my story and explain our laid back approach to raising our bilingual children.

I am Australian and therefore English is my native language. My husband is Dutch, so Dutch is his native language, however his English is just as good as mine. Since we first met fifteen years ago we have always spoken our common language with each other, which was English. Even though we now live in the Netherlands and I am learning Dutch, we still automatically speak English with each other. It is comfortable for us both and a habit that was developed early on. Although we have tried several times to switch to Dutch, we always automatically fall back to English. So we continue to speak English with each other.

Our two children were both born in Australia and when they were aged 2.5 and 9 months, we immigrated to the Netherlands. So my daughter was already speaking English well at the time. Around our daughter’s third birthday, we enrolled her into a Dutch peuterspeelzaal (playgroup). We wanted to expose her to more Dutch and ‘get the ball rolling’ so to say on building her second language. Peuterspeelzaal was just 2.5 hours, two mornings per week and she was able to begin learning Dutch in a fun environment as she played with other children her age. We were informed early on during a routine check up at the consultatiebureau (child health centre) that as Dutch was not our daughter’s main language at home, we were entitled to a special language subsidy program. She then began attending the playgroup for four half days per week and amazingly the government subsidised the majority of the cost — I believe we paid just 10 euros per month!.

She immediately began picking up Dutch words and within a couple of months, her sentences were made up of both Dutch and English words. At home, we watched children’s television programs in Dutch and my husband would read bed time stories in Dutch. After about four months, she knew the difference between Dutch words and English words, and would ask the child carers or her dad what the Dutch word was if she didn’t know. Within a year, she had completely switched over to speak Dutch 100% of the time (at both playgroup and at home). I continued to speak English to her at home. She understood what I was saying, but always responded in Dutch.

At 2.5 years of age, my son was also enrolled in the same subsidised program at the peuterspeelzaal. To be honest, I am not sure what my son’s native language is. His first words were a combination of both English and Dutch words. He grew up speaking Dutch with his dad and sister, and English with me. However, as soon as he began at the peuterspeelzaal, Dutch quickly became his dominant language.

My daughter began at a Dutch elementary school (basisschool) at four years of age and my son remained in the peuterspeelzaal for four half days per week. Actually, for about two full years, I did not hear my children speak English. For both children, Dutch had become their main language of choice and they would not answer me in English anymore. Even though I dearly missed hearing them speak English, I was extremely proud of how well they had picked up their second language. They still understood everything I said to them in English and I mostly continued to speak English at home in the hope that one day, that ‘English speaking switch’ would flick back on again. Switching back and forth between the two languages was something they had not yet accomplished at this stage.

Then I began working at an International school. At the ages of three and five, our children were given the opportunity to begin attending that same school. At this particular school, classes were taught in English. Within six months, both children were speaking English again. It was liberating to hear them speak English and wonderful to see them being able to switch back and forth between the two languages when needed.

Moving them to an International school was not an easy decision by all means. I was keen to hear them speak English again, but it was also just an important to us that they were able to speak Dutch fluently. However, not only did the school offer Dutch classes every day as a core subject, it also split the Dutch classes within every grade level into ‘Dutch as a Second Language’ and ‘Dutch at a Native Level’. Our children were able to join the native level classes, so we decided to give it a go. We also made the decision that any after school activities such as swimming lessons, football and ballet etc. would always be in Dutch with other local Dutch children, rather than in English at the school. They also play with their Dutch neighbours most days after school. So outside of school, they still receive plenty of practice speaking Dutch.

At home we speak both Dutch and English. We alternate in watching movies in both Dutch and English (thank you Netflix audio options!). Sometimes I read them their bed time story in English, but most nights, their dad will read them a story in Dutch. Sometimes we play CDs in the car that are full of Dutch children’s songs and sometimes we play English ones. Around the table at dinner time, the four of us go back and forth between the two languages constantly. Sometimes my husband speaks Dutch to them, sometimes English. Sometimes our children will speak Dutch to us, sometimes English. We have no set rules and just go with the flow. But I don’t believe that this combination of languages is confusing for them. On the contrary, they seem to be thriving!

I had always assumed that one must first learn to read and write in your native language before it would be possible to begin learning how to read and write in another. However, my daughter is proving me wrong. Currently at school, she is learning how to read and write in both English and Dutch simultaneously. Every day she receives literacy lessons in English from her native English classroom teacher and in Dutch from a native Dutch teacher. She is now able to read, write and speak in both languages even though vowels are sounded out so differently and sentence structures couldn’t be more dissimilar. Much to my surprise and delight, during her daily Dutch class she even seems to be keeping up with Dutch children attending Dutch schools.

We can only hope that we continue to witness both of our children thriving in both languages, which I am sure will be the case. My greatest dream is that they mature into young adults that are confidently and fluently able to communicate, and complete further studies if they desire, in either or both of their two languages. Our laid back approach may not be right for others and obviously attending an international school is not possible or the right choice for everyone. I figure, as long as our children are exposed to both languages enough on a daily basis, it will happen naturally. As they like to say here in the Netherlands, “Het komt wel goed” (everything will be fine).

Kristen

 

Kinderdijk

Today we did as the tourists do here in Holland…we visited Kinderdijk! This UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique collection of nineteen authentic windmills, which are considered a Dutch icon throughout the entire world.

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I had visited Kinderdijk before, but it wasn’t until today that I learned the history behind it’s name. In 1421, a baby girl was born on a farm and one night, a great surge of water from the North Sea flooded the rivers causing the dikes to overflow and break. Thousands of people drowned in these floods, but the baby floated away in it’s bassinet, with a cat perched up on the hood. The cat kept the crib balanced, protecting the baby. The place where she was eventually found the following day is now known as ‘Kinderdijk’ (Children’s Dike). No one knew the baby’s name, so she was called Beatrix de Rijke (Beatrix meaning “blessed” and de Rijke meaning “the Rich”).  There is still a crib on display at Kinderdijk, floating in the water to remind us of how Kinderdijk got it’s name all those hundreds of years ago….

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As Beatrix grew up at Kinderdijk, she observed the area transforming into a safer environment with more windmills and higher dikes. As the majority of the Netherlands is actually below sea level, over the centuries the Dutch became more aware of the importance of protecting themselves from the water. They dramatically improved their dikes, windmills and pumping stations. The Dutch are now world famous for their water management skills and specialist dutch companies are now in high demand all over the world for their expertise in this area.

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Ignorance

Yesterdays tragic events in Brussels hit us all hard. More innocent lives were sadly lost and it angers me, frustrates me and frightens me. What is the world coming to and when will it all stop? Or will we, as humans, inevitably be at war against each other until the end of time? Last night I could not bring myself to watch the news. It is all too upsetting and too close to home. All of the turmoil in Syria and other parts of the world is indeed happening — right at this very moment more family homes are being bombed and more children are starving to death — yet we all continue on with our lives as though it is not. Does ignoring it all make us ignorant?

I found that when we lived in Australia, this was even more so the case. Being so isolated from the rest of the world you don’t truly realise, or sincerely care, about what is happening on the other side of the world, as it does not involve you. All those troubles are so far away. In addition, international news is also not given the time that it deserves each night on the evening news. Now, however, the troubles are on our doorstep (with Brussels just 140kms away).

According to Wikipedia, “Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge). The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts.”

Kasey Chambers is an Australian singer and songwriter. My daughter and I are huge fans and listen to her albums regularly. On her second album, Barricades & Brickwalls, there is a hidden secret song at the end of the last track titled, Ignorance.  As I listened to this song on my way to work this morning, it touched me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the direction in which our world is headed and how we all have different methods of coping with it. Please take the time to listen to this song and read the lyrics. Rather than fight each other, why can’t we all just live together in peace and harmony? Realistically, there is not much I can do to change the situation, but I can stay aware. No matter how difficult it may be, I will watch/read the news and stay up to date with what is happening in this world that we all call home. I will no longer be ignorant.

Ignorance – Kasey Chambers

Don’t wanna read the paper
I don’t like bad news
Last night a man got shot
Outside the house of blues
I’d like to ignore it
I’d like to just pretend
That the reason for it
Is something I can comprehend

I don’t listen to the radio
Last time it made me cry
Two boys went crazy
Fifteen kids died
And I don’t know their families
I don’t ask ’em how they’re going
They’re on the other side of the world
But it’s way too close to home

I’ve got something to say
And I thought it might be worth a mention
If you’re not pissed off at the world
Then you’re just not paying attention
And you can turn off the TV
And go about your day
But just ‘cos you don’t see it
It don’t mean its gone away hey

We don’t talk to our neighbours
They’ve got funny coloured skin
We see ’em out on the sidewalk
But we don’t invite ’em in
We only eat when we’re hungry
And we throw the rest away
While babies in Cambodia
Are starving everyday

We risk our lives
We hit our wives
We act like everything is funny
We hide our pain
While we go insane
We sell our souls for money
We curse our mums
We build our bombs
We make our children cry
We watch the band
While Vietnam
Just watch their children die

A sisterly bond lost and found

During my childhood, I always had a great time together with my three younger sisters. We were all very close in age (mum and dad had four girls under the age of five) and so we were more like best friends. Of course we had our quarrels, but for the majority of the time we all got along and played well together.

I developed a particularly close relationship with one of my sisters. We were always together; playing in the backyard, jumping on the trampoline, climbing the haystack, making cubby houses and getting up to mischief whenever possible. We began to think alike, act alike and could make each other laugh until we cried. I would say for about ten years straight, at home we were pretty much inseparable.

Then somehow, somewhere along the line, we lost our unique connection. Looking back on it now, this was due to a combination of reasons. At eighteen, I left home and after completing my studies, I began working abroad – so our contact with each other immediately and dramatically decreased to next to next to nothing. It was also during this time that we tragically lost our youngest sister (you can read about that here). We each dealt with our grief in different ways; I went back overseas to try and distract myself by working, and my sister rebelled. Over time, our special bond with one another seemed to disappear. We still enjoyed each other’s company whenever we caught up, but that special connection we had seemed to be lost. Over the next fifteen years, I either lived abroad working on cruise ships, or in Sydney (a ten hour drive from the rest of my family), or in the Netherlands. So the opportunity for us to find that connection again unfortunately didn’t present itself.

Until 2015….. I was thrilled when my sister called to inform me that she had booked flights to come over and visit us here in the Netherlands! She was coming on her own and it would be her first time to Europe, so we were both extremely excited. Immediately we began planning our time together and counting down the days.

When she arrived at the airport in Amsterdam, we hugged for a very long time. I finally had my sister in my arms and I did not want to let go. I had big plans for our next two weeks together. I wanted to show her as much of the Netherlands as I could and everything I loved about it. In addition, I had a trip to Rome and Belgium planned.

During the first few nights she was here, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and just talked and talked and talked. There was no stopping us. She had brought two large bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin at the airport and we definitely tested it out good and proper. We ended up nicknaming it ‘the blue truth serum’ as when we drank it, we just got everything out on the table and off our chests. For hours on end we talked, laughed, reminisced and cried, whilst sharing our fears, hopes and dreams with each other. It was wonderful in every way.

As I only had sixteen precious days with my sister, I had planned our time together in such a way that we had the opportunity to spend quality time with one another. Just the two of us. So on quite a few occasions, my husband or my parents-in-law looked after the kids whilst my sister and I made memories together to last a lifetime.

Firstly, we spent a full day together at Elysium sauna centrum. A full day of pure relaxation and sisterly chatter. An endless amount of saunas, pools, steam rooms and bubble baths. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and laughter as we began rebuilding our sisterly bond.

The kids and I then took her to see her very first castle, De Haar Castle near Utrecht. My favourite castle in the Netherlands, surrounded by stunning gardens. We toured the castle, walked around the grounds and then ate our picnic lunch on the lawns whilst taking in the scenery.

It was the middle of summer here in Europe, so we then spent a day on our boat, cruising the canals, showing her Holland at it’s best.

The two of us then headed to Amsterdam. We enjoyed a great city walking tour, Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Anne Frank House, we shopped, ate a nice dinner then enjoyed an evening canal cruise.

The following three days were spent in Rome. These three days were so amazing. I cannot explain how much I enjoyed this time together with my sister exploring such an amazing city. We found ourselves continuously falling into fits of laughter until we cried. We were really enjoying each other’s company. We visited all the sites that Rome had to offer, ate a lot of delicious Italian food and drank amazing frozen cocktails in the courtyard bar of our hotel. You could not wipe the smiles from our faces.

Our second week together consisted of visits to Delft, Ghent (Belgium), the Gouda Cheese Markets, the pancake boat in Rotterdam and the De Lier feest week (party week), all the while receiving copious amounts of quality time with my sister.

When it came time to take her to the airport and say goodbye, it was suddenly clear to us both that somthing has been ignited during those two weeks. A unique sisterly bond that had been lost, now was found. We had mended a bond broken and that was so valuable to us both. All we had needed was some quality time together to talk and laugh…oh and ‘the blue truth serum’ of course 🙂

Kristen

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Maasvlakte 2 beach – A hidden gem

Today the sun was shining, not a cloud was to be seen in the sky and temperatures reached the double figures! So we decided to hit the beach. I have frequently visited beaches in the Netherlands such as Hoek van Holland, Scheveningen and Kijkduin, but on this particular occasion, we visited a beach I have never been to before. One I didn’t even know existed (and actually it didn’t until 2013). The beach at Maasvlakte 2.

My husband had been there before and warned me that I was in for a treat. However, with the drive there being terribly industrial, I had my doubts. We parked our car by the dunes, and as we walked up over them, my jaw dropped as a beautiful sandy beach came into view that stretched both ways as far as the eye could see. Best of all, there was no one on it! We were, for at least an hour or so, literally the only ones to be found on this unexpected paradise.

We had a great afternoon soaking up the sun whilst collecting shells, digging in the sand and relaxing to sound of the constant waves rolling in.

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For those who are not aware, the Maasvlakte 2 is a mega dredging project during which the port of Rotterdam was artificially enlarged by reclaiming land from the North Sea. One of the biggest engineering projects in the Netherlands following the success of the first Maasvlakte area. Approximately 20 square kilometers of land was reclaimed! In addition to the economic benefits for the city of Rotterdam, a 7 kilometre-long sandy beach for recreation has been created. This beach is the ‘successor’ to the very popular Slufter Beach, which was closed to allow for the construction of Maasvlakte 2.

If you would like to learn more about the Maasvlakte 2, dredging at sea, raising new port land, or loading and unloading ships, then you could visit the information centre, FutureLand (Europaweg 902, Maasvlakte). At FutureLand you can view interactive models that show how the land was claimed back from the water, step into a simulator that allows you to view the Maasvlakte 2 from the air, or watch the film Zeezicht (Sea View) projected on to a 4 by 4 meter water curtain. You can also join a free guided tour on Sundays at 13:00 which lasts about one hour. FutureLand is open from Tuesday to Friday and on Sunday, and entrance is free.

The Maasvlakte 2 beach is an enormous hidden gem. Granted, it is windy, has no glamorous shops or barely any restaurants, but it is in our eyes it is a paradise. Unlike other beaches in the Netherlands, here you will not have to fight for a spot to lay your towel or set up your sun tent (or in our case dig our own water-way through the sand). You will have a seven kilometer area of glorious sandy beach to choose from. So don’t be put off by all the industrial areas along the way, take a drive out to the Maasvlakte 2 beach and you will not be disappointed.

Kristen

Flying solo .. with two kids

My husband and I have always travelled together for family visits and vacations around the world. Once we had kids, we continued to fly together (including multiple trips between Australia and the Netherlands). The four of us travelled together as a family unit. Always.

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However, we were then faced with a dilemma which forced me question my ‘we-should-do-everything-together’ kind of attitude. Due to work circumstances, it looks as though my husband will not be able to travel back to Australia this Christmas. I then had to choose; wait another year (making it four years since we’ve been back to Australia), or go alone with our two children.

This also poses the problem that if I go, we will be spending our first ever Christmas apart from each other, which I do not like the sound of. Christmas is about family and being together. So the idea of us being apart for Christmas upsets me. However, at the same time, the idea of being together with my family in Australia for Christmas excites me. What to do?

Typically, I have had the mind set of ‘we all go, or we don’t go’. However, I have recently noticed that quite a few of my international friends here in Holland have made multiple trips home without their husbands, kid(s) in tow. Granted their journey is not quite as long, but I have been surprised to see that flying solo with kids is more common than I had assumed. I am well aware that in order for me to be happy here in the Netherlands, I need to fly back to see my family at least every three years (obviously every two years is preferred, but due to the cost this is challenging). In addition, my family are dying to see the kids.

So I have decided to take the plunge and have booked our tickets! For the first time, I am going to travel 24 hours to the other side of the world, on my own with two kids. Am I crazy? Maybe. But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

This time I will not have that extra pair of hands to help out. So I have taken a few steps in order to make the trip a little more manageable. Firstly, I have reserved our three seats together with a child on either side of me for all four of our long-haul flights (for two reasons really; so that I can assist them both when needed, and to avoid any of the annoying sibling taunting and bickering which seems oh so frequent lately!). I have booked with an airline that I am comfortable with, and our layover in each direction is at an airport that I am familiar with. I have found flights that offer a short (less than two hour) layover in order to minimise our total travel time. Each of our kids will carry their own backpacks, full of activities and snacks to keep them busy. I have accepted the challenge and am confident that I can make this experience a fairly stress-free one. Hopefully.

If you have any other tips that you can give me to make this journey a smooth one for us all, I’d be happy to hear them. To all my family and friends in Victoria, Australia — we very much look forward to seeing you all in December!

Kristen

The Two Love Birds

Today is the day I married my husband — nine years ago! We have now been together a staggering 16 years in total! On this day each year, I enjoy looking back through our wedding photos and videos. It really was such a wonderful day. Last night I read through our vows and other poems that were recited by loved ones in the church on that day nine years ago. There was one particular poem that my mother read during the ceremony, that still makes me feel quite emotional.

The poem is about two birds who travel the world and then eventually meet upon the ‘very same tree’. This poem reflects our story; however, in our case it was a ship 🙂

The Two Birds at Capistrano
Two birds begin a journey long,
from different points in far off lands.
With a luring urge – in heart a song,
two novices leed life’s commands.
As they made their great migration,
their feeble feet turn to taloned hands;
and the two reach their destination.
as seasoned travelers in the northern lands.
Still unaware that the other lives,
each alights on the very same tree;
and there the two, as if guided by god,
fall madly in love and marry.
Thus so it is with Alwin and Kristen,
two birds which heaven’s winds did blow
to this blessed rendezvous of life,
like the two birds at Capistrano.

 

I began to research more into these ‘Birds of Capistrano’ and this is what I discovered..

Mission San Juan Capistrano is just north of San Diego in the US (coincidentally, my husband and I first met on a ship docked in San Diego). The birds of San Juan Capistrano are cliff swallows that have made the Mission and the city world famous. For centuries, the swallows returned to this town on the exact same day each year. They transferred their nests to the eaves of the Mission when it was built in 1776 as it was an ideal spot for the swallows to nest and raise their young.

As the little birds fly back to this most famous mission in California, the village of San Juan Capistrano takes on a fiesta air and visitors from all parts of the world gather in great numbers to witness the “miracle” of the return of the swallows, usually on St Josephs Day (19 March).

Then each year, around the Day of San Juan (October 23), the famous cliff swallows of San Juan Capistrano swirl into the sky and head back to Argentina to raise their families, although unfortunately bird sightings are becoming less and less over the years.

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A song was even made about them! In 1939, songwriter Leon Rene wrote “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.” The song was apparently a hit.

“When the swallows come back to Capistrano
That’s the day you promised to come back to me.
When you whispered farewell in Capistrano
Twas the day the swallows flew out to the sea.”

Just as these famous birds did, my husband and I also fell in love, then migrated across the seas together, building a home and a family.

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Kristen

An Aussie at Heart

Australia, the land of sun and fun! You may wonder why, as an Australian, I have not yet written about traveling in Australia and all it has to offer? Well, this is simply because it has so much to offer that I do not know where to start! I’m sure I will eventually begin hacking away at blog posts describing all of my favourite places to visit, but for now I am going to focus on Australia and Australians in general.

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The name Australia, is derived from the Latin Terra Australis (“southern land”). This great southern land truly is one of a kind, offering everything from white sandy beaches, green lush rain forests, to the red deserted outback. It is also filled with the friendliest people you will encounter. I guess the fact that it is so isolated from the rest of the world has therefore ensured that it remains as it is, unspoiled by war and overpopulation.

Australia’s population density is 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometer, which means that Australians have more living space per person than inhabitants of any other nation. Granted a huge chunk of the country is pretty much inhabitable due to the harsh outback (20% of the country is classified as dessert with additional areas considered to have a dessert climate). Therefore, the majority of Australians live along the beautiful and rugged coastlines. Did you know Australia has approximately 36,000 kilometers of coastline?! Australia is so large that it takes almost five hours to fly from Sydney on the East coast to Perth on the West coast, or about 4 days to drive it (if you drive about 1000 kms per day)! In my home state of Victoria alone, you could actually fit six of the Netherlands!

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Australians in general are pretty down to earth and relaxed in nature. Maybe due to the sensational weather? It’s almost always sunny and this has been proven to increase those happy hormones. Or maybe it’s due to their active lifestyles, with the majority of Aussies playing some sort of sport all year round, whether it be AFL football, rugby, tennis, cricket or netball. This sportive lifestyle is both healthy and extremely social.

Aussies are in fact so relaxed and easy going that, over time, we have even created our own version of the English language! We went and abbreviated everything so that we didn’t need to use full words. Here is a great little video which gives a quick tutorial on how to speak like an Aussie…

I grew up in northern country Victoria, by the mighty Murray River, which is actually the border between the two states of Victoria and New South Wales. Our back yard was the bush, which was filled with kangaroos, koalas and other wild life. We loved (and still love) to go out camping in the bush along the river. I do miss the smell of the eucalyptus trees, looking up into the sky at night and seeing the billions of bright stars, and waking up in the morning to the sounds of the birds, even the loud skawky cockatoos. Every time we go back for a vacation, we always make sure that we fit in at least a few days camping out by the river.

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Australia is the land of extremes. We experience regular bush fires, floods and droughts, which devastate the lands and wildlife. However, we have no active volcanos and experience little if any earthquakes. Yes, we do have the world’s most dangerous snakes and spiders sharing our land with us, but rarely do we bump into them and look, I survived didn’t I? 🙂

My husband and I were married in the country town of Echuca in Victoria, Australia. Located on the Murray River, this was the perfect setting for our special day. Ten of our closest Dutch family and friends flew in for the occasion. They joined 70 of my Australian family and friends to help us celebrate. Although it was a scorching 43 degrees, it really was our perfect day and we will actually be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary this week! How time flies.

Once married, we relocated to Sydney, New South Wales. This was where our two beautiful children were born. They now therefore have both Dutch and Australian passports and also have family members living in both countries. So when they become adults, they will be able to travel back and forth with ease, or even choose to live in either country, whether temporarily or permanently if their hearts desire. I am already preparing myself for this possibility and I am happy that they will have the choice. They are growing up to be true global citizens, and the world is their oyster!

So after being born in Australia, being married in Australia and giving birth to my two children in Australia, you may wonder, why did I choose to leave? Rest assure, my love for Australia has not diminished at all, it’s just that my love for my husband is even greater.

Even though I am currently living elsewhere, I am still proud to be an Aussie and without a doubt, still an Aussie at heart. I always will be. I still feel great pride if someone yells out “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” and will always respond with an “Oi, Oi, Oi!!!” Yet, at the same time, I also love the colour orange and wear it with pride on King’s Day each year here in Holland or when the Dutch football team is playing. I have discovered that it is entirely possible to be both a proud Australian and a proud Dutch resident simultaneously. I’m just like a thriving tree that is branching out here in the Netherlands, yet my roots will always be firmly planted in Australian soil.

Kristen

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