Happy Canada Day From Amsterdam

Melissa dressed in her red and white for Canada Day. Melissa Verwey

This holiday weekend, I'm reflecting on what I miss most about my home and native land. 

Put on your red and white—for Canadians worldwide, it’s time for Canada Day celebrations.

For those of who are living abroad, reflecting on what it means to be Canadian brings mixed emotions. So in addition to celebrating with fellow Canadians by toasting caesars and digging into nanaimo bars, I have also decided to reflect on the top five things that I miss from my native land.

1. The weather

Right now there is a heat wave in Toronto, and gosh, do I miss it. Yes, the Netherlands does have a sun that tries to peak its head through the clouds, but it's nowhere near enough to keep up a proper summer tan.

I’ll admit I don’t mind missing out on the cold snowy winters, but I do miss the predictable four seasons. (I mean, who doesn’t love shopping for fall fashion?) The Netherlands seem to have one season: rainy season. And if you’re lucky, an hour or two of sun, maybe—and it normally comes out when everyone is working indoors. 

2. Toronto's food scene

Yes, the Dutch have amazing bitter balls, potatoes, gouda cheese, cheap wine, and—for the carnivores—sausage. But I am a bit over all the carbs! One can only eat fries and mayo for so many meals.

I am used to Toronto's trendsetting food industry, which has more options than grains of sand on a beach. There's no competition between Toronto and Amsterdam; Toronto takes it handily and I truly miss it. This could be because Amsterdam is a lot smaller and has a focus on Dutch food for all the tourists, and there really isn't Canadian cuisine, it's just a mashup of the best of other cultures. (I can’t help but add that a good old classic poutine on a lazy Netflix Sunday to cure a hangover is deeply missed over here in Amsterdam. That and a bag of Ketchup chips. Yum!)

3. My family

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. If you are very much a family person, like me, this can be one of the toughest parts of expat life. When you live an ocean away you miss the babies being born, the toddlers learning to walk, the cousins' dating stories, the weddings, the girls' nights at the movies, the family meals that you’d never thought you’d miss, and the everyday normal parts of everyone’s lives.

Of course, these memories you can share over phone and video chats, but technology cannot replace a hug when a family member is sick or worse, passes away.

4. English

No doubt aboot it, eh. I miss our language. I miss eavesdropping, reading the signs in storefronts, picking up a magazine at the hair salon, knowing what I am actually ordering off a menu. Not having to Google translate everything I bought at the grocery store or read on transit was something I definitely took for granted.

5. Hockey and baseball

If you know me offline, you'll be surprised that this is on my list. Growing up in a hockey household becomes a part of your comfort zone. Even if I wasn’t glued to the TV set, hearing the puck bounce around, the skates gliding on the ice, and the music from the arena, was a part of a Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada ritual. And who didn’t stop everything to watch what Don Cherry had to say on Coach's Corner? Oh, the good ol' hockey game.

As much as people like to poke jokes, Canada is not just about hockey. We also have the Blue Jays, a professional baseball team. I would love to roll out of bed on a Sunday morning and make my way over to a Jays' game. Just hanging out with friends, watching our guys in blue, while sipping on some cold beer would be so great right about now.

But am I really missing out? 

On the flip side, I am incredibly blessed to experience life in a new country. A beautiful nation that has so much to offer, new adventures to explore, and numerous travel options at my fingertips. So if you are thinking of making the jump to expat life, do it. It's no secret you will miss out on some things, but that also allows for more room to open up to new experiences. And when you do get to go back home for a visit, hug your family and friends, stuff your face with your favourite foods, cheer on your sports teams, and share your unique adventures with those that want to hear them the most.

So, fellow expats, what do you miss most about home? How do you cope with being away?

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Melissa Verwey

Melissa Verwey is a Canadian performer who has been residing in Amsterdam for the last year. Her career has included acting in over 20 plays, coupled with over a decade of working behind the scenes in TV and Theatre Production.

Website: www.melissaverwey.actor

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