Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Time We Almost Moved to Amsterdam

In the world of an ex-pat there is one thing that is predictable and that is that nothing is predictable. We came here for 2 years then said, what's one and a half more which them turned into 3 1/2 more.   So it's no surprise to me that even with a committed time frame here in Barcelona that it was possible for things to change, yet again... 

I delayed this post for quite some time (as in months and months!) for obvious reasons as it has to do with Josh's job.  And so it's stuff that I didn't necessarily want to make public until the time was appropriate.  However, as it's important to our experiences here, I kept a journal as we went through the process so you could experience it "first hand" when the time was right.  And since it's now been months, I think it's "safe" to post :)

Written Jan 20th...

Last night Josh and I were on our way out to dinner with friends.  As we were walking towards the metro he turns to me and says, "Do you want to have a heavy conversation or light?".  I thought he was being facetious as I had lectured him while we were in Andorra about not talking enough to me about life, work, kids, etc.  I figured heavy meant let's talk about work, finances, etc and light perhaps about our upcoming travel plans.  Never did I imagine the words that would come out of his mouth when I said "heavy".

To me heavy meant he wanted to talk about work and stuff that's been going on there lately.  Things he might not want to talk about in front of the kids.  There's been a lot of shake up and he's been under a lot of stress.  I didn't expect "What do you think about moving to Amsterdam?" to be the next words he would utter.  The words I replied back with aren't really PC for this blog... you get the picture.  And certainly not the conversation that I was expecting to have on the way to meet our friends.

In the end, we had a great conversation about our lives here in Barcelona, both the pros and cons and where we see our futures.  And from there the next step was for Josh to open some dialogue with the powers that be in the Amsterdam office (still remaining a part of Vistaprint).  The job would be a great opportunity for him and an internal move, and while I am not super hot on the idea of a move to the Netherlands, my days here have been feeling a bit disenchanted lately.  Maybe a change will do us all good?  Though upon looking at the (snowy) weather there, I still think I'd prefer to stay here!!

Written Jan 26...

Josh was in meetings all week with his worldwide marketing conference.  Each night he had a dinner as well so he was getting home late which didn't leave a lot of time for us to talk and the wait was killing me!!!  At this point we don't even know if there would be an interest in him going to Amsterdam.

It wasn't til Friday evening that Josh was able to initiate a conversation with the appropriate person regarding a possible move to Amsterdam.  You can't imagine what my week was like.  Trying not to obsess because I have nothing yet to obsess over and yet of course, given my type A personality, totally making lists in my head of all that would need to be done prior to a move and all the research that I should be, but wasn't, doing.

The good news, there is an interest.  The bad news... well, there isn't any news yet.  But the dialogue has been opened and Josh plans to have another conversation this week to find out more.  In the meantime, let the waiting game begin.

Written Jan 27...

While this is still not my ideal situation, Josh is pretty excited about this opportunity.  And so I've begun to do some pre-emptive research.

I have to say, the Netherlands has an amazing ex-pat website.  It is a part of their IAmAmsterdam campaign and was founded in 2008 to help ex-pats settle in.  There is even a first month guidebook.  If only I'd had something even close to this when we moved to Spain.  So I took a quick glance, not wanting to overwhelm myself when we don't even know for sure if we are going.  But my thought was, let's start seeing what information is available and getting our ducks in a row.

I also took a look at the international schools - because school will also determine where we would live which then means I can start to figure out what we could expect for rents.  Josh had said he looked at a few when first thinking about this move.  But while I trust Josh in many things, education is not necessarily one of them.  It's not that he doesn't want the best for the kids, he just has a different criteria than I do that defines the best.  So I took a look tonight to see what "the best" is.  And honestly, just because it's the most expensive does not mean it's the best.  I have it narrowed down to two schools. The Amsterdam International School (the most expensive) and the Amsterdam International Community School.  The latter is subsidized through the Netherlands which reduces it's cost but means that more is controlled by the government, more like a public school.  The schools in the Netherlands are set to a very high standard so this might not be a bad thing.  Also interesting to note, swimming is mandatory and children must pass swimming exams.  I'm sure this is related to all the water in and around the Netherlands, just never saw a place where it was mandatory.

I found the school research a bit overwhelming especially when looking at tuitions that made me want to vomit.  We have no idea what will or won't be covered by Josh's work at this point.  Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.... we don't know that he has a job there yet and here I am already figuring out tuitions.  I should just go to bed...

Written Jan 30...

So today Josh was supposed to have a talk with the powers that be regarding this possible move.  It was going to be a day to shed some light on if this is something that might actually happen.  The anticipation is definitely killing me and I'm sure Josh feels the same.  So when I instant messaged him at 10:30 this morning, I can just feel his disappointment when he said that the meeting was changed to next TUESDAY!  Yes, pretty much a full week away.

This stresses me for different reasons, reasons Josh can't comprehend.  There are some many logistics that go into a move like this and a big one is the school.  A lot of schools are planning for their 2013 academic years already.  And while I understand that things are a little different at international schools since they don't always get the kind of notice with people coming and going that those at a traditional school can supply, I still recognize that I need to get those applications in stat if we are doing this.

I also feel like we are just sitting here, in limbo... waiting again.  It reminds me of when we embarked on this journey 3 1/2 years ago.  But I'm almost more stressed now because now, now I know that this is hard.  The move isn't so bad, it's manageable.  Yes, it's a lot of logistics, but it's not difficult.  It's the settling down into a new culture and new environment.  I cried for months the last time it was so hard. And while I've been through it before, the fact that I know what to expect is actually a little more intimidating than the unknown.

Written Feb 5...

So I've just been trying to put this all out of my head for the last week.  Josh and I talked the other day and it was decided that if this move doesn't pan out, we will continue to go on as we were in Barcelona and stay here as long as possible.  We love Barcelona, he's overall happy in his job and we don't want to leave unless it is an amazing opportunity.

Josh talked with the head guy today.  They talked about the position, the pros and cons of the company, etc etc.  And Josh is excited about the prospect.  And nervous.  He knows that being excited about it could (a) lead to disappointment if it doesn't come to fruition and (b) that it makes a position harder to turn down if the financials don't work out to make this a feasible move for us.

Next steps?  Josh has to talk to the hiring guy to find out what we would be talking about financially (at least that's what I hope the next conversation is, I'd imagine that's what the hiring manager does, right?). And so, let the waiting game continue.

Written Feb 14...

Yes, another week has gone by.  Another week of just waiting and wondering.  The good news is that things are starting to look up... well, sort of.  Josh had a talk with his boss this week about where everything is heading and what the scenarios are.  The good news is that we are pretty secure here for at least another year to 2 years unless he decides to move on to Amsterdam which his boss also was supportive of him doing.  He's talking to the hiring guy in Amsterdam on Friday so perhaps this week we will start to get a better idea on what our long term plans are.

On another note, in the last few weeks we've had our renters on the Cape give their notice.  Thankfully they are looking at the end of April so it gives us a little time but it still adds stress to our lives just when we don't need it.  And it looks like the same might be true in Attleboro as they are looking to buy a house, but I'm hoping it won't be til closer to summertime in that case!

Written Feb 28...

We are getting to a point of frustration these days.  We don't know which way is up and are trying to figure out what our future holds.  Josh wants to stay in Europe, I'm torn.  We are still waiting to find out what is happening with Amsterdam - Josh's meetings have been rescheduled 3 times now and the latest is supposedly going to happen on March 6.  The good news is that because I'm so sick of waiting, I'm also stressing (a little) less and just trying to continue on with my every day life.  I'm resigned to think that we will be staying in Barcelona for at least the next year though as we know, that could always change.

Written Mar 6...

And yet another meeting - cancelled.  This is getting old.

Present day...

So given the title of this entry is we "almost" moved to Amsterdam, you probably know what happened next.  Nothing.  The back and forth continued and then there were some changes in the office in Amsterdam that just made us think, now is not the time for this move.  We're still open to new opportunities but for the time being we are just going to focus on the here and the now and enjoy our time in Barcelona until the time comes for the next adventure.


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