It's official. After nearly seven years in Amsterdam, I am heading home. The move has been in the works for a while now, but the tangible reality of it is really emotional. It hasn't always been easy, but this little country has been good to me.
In July 2006, I arrived in the Netherlands with two suitcases in hand. It was my first time stepping foot in the country, enticed by a full scholarship for a two-year Master's of Arts program. The first year was a rollercoaster as I adjusted to living in Europe, a mix of awe at the beauty of the city and confusion as I wondered where my place was in the world. I had lived in Seoul the year before and, although I loved my family, I didn't want to live in America. A year into my studies, I wondered if Amsterdam was the place for me. At the height of wanderlust, I imagined moving next to Berlin or Paris. And then...
In September 2007, I met Marcus. A sweet German who had lived in Amsterdam for two years, played music, worked with technology, and is the epitome of stability and love. When I received my diploma in June 2008, I couldn't imagine leaving him and decided to stay. I entered the Dutch workforce in August 2008, building my career and an amazing network.
Moving to a new apartment. German lessons. A job offer from World Press Photo. Traveling the world. An engagement. A wedding. And then it was 2013.
The two suitcases I arrived with in 2006 have evolved into five cubic meters to be packed in a transatlantic shipping container. I now have my MA degree, a solid professional career, friends from all parts of the world, and an amazing husband. And somehow, despite the distance, I am closer to my family than ever. I don't mean to make it sound easy. There were moments of tears and frustration, times of loneliness and wondering if I would make it along the way. But I did.
A new life awaits in Portland and there are so many details to arrange before the end of February. But for now, I am going to enjoy these last days with the city that has brought so much to my life.