An Amsterdamiversary

While tomorrow will be my official Amsterdamiversary (or, in layman's terms, one year since I arrived in Amsterdam), today marks a full year since I hugged my parents goodbye and boarded a plane on a one-way ticket. As often seems the case when I reflect on time, part of me can't believe it was only a year ago that I moved to this foreign land while the other part feels like I've been here forever. This year has been full of ups and downs, exciting developments as well as setbacks, and a whole lot of growth. I surely can't say that I've loved every minute, but I'm learning to be grateful for each one because things are finally starting to feel like they're falling into place.

I feel like I may have written something similar to those last two sentences before, and I did mean them at the time, but new developments have me feeling them even stronger now. While I've been substitute teaching for the past five months or so, I haven't been called in very regularly until the last month and a half during which I've been working every day (you may have noticed I've been extra busy by the lack of blog posts, my sincerest apologies for that). Being back in a school has been great, but it's also been very taxing to teach different students every day, and often switching classes once, twice, or even thrice a day. I've learned so much about the students, the curriculum, and gotten to know many of the teachers, but I've lacked any real connection to a specific classroom. Lately, I've felt that every shred of energy I can muster was channeled into teaching, building relationships, and trying to further my position within my school's community. But today, as I signed a contract to be a homeroom teacher of a shared pre-Kindergarten class next year, I can say that my hard work paid off.

The timing of my Amsterdamiversary is actually quite fitting because today also happens to be the last day of school for me. It really felt like I was closing a chapter as I said goodbye to my students and colleagues, walked out of the school as a substitute-only for the last time, and watched the school fade into the background from the train window. And as I reflected back on my first year during the commute home, I felt content about all that has happened, proud of what I've accomplished, yet I also recognized how lost I've felt at times. But mostly, as with the end of any school year, I felt relieved that it was all over.

So tomorrow, as summer break begins, I will enter my second year in Amsterdam with enthusiasm for what lies ahead, gratitude that it begins with more direction than the last, and the motivation to keep making what I want of this life. I hope you'll join me for the ride!