A patriotic expatriate

Though I loved my years in the Netherlands, I never much liked being called an expatriate. Tax benefits aside, for me the word always carried a negative connotation, one of exiled, expelled patriots, as if by picking up and moving to another country, I was somehow less of an American.

If anything, the opposite was true. Most expats will tell you an experience abroad only heightens their feelings of nationalism. There’s nothing like being a stranger in a strange land to make you feel connected to the place you left behind.

My first few months in the Netherlands were confusing and intimidating and exhausting. The loneliness was brutal, the pangs of homesickness even worse. I missed my family and my friends and my comfortable, air-conditioned existence. I missed my car and big gulps and skyscrapers and walk-ins welcome. I didn’t just feel American, I felt uber-American, and very out of place in Holland.

But as the months turned into years and the years into a decade and more, I also became part Dutch, leaning to love the language, the culture, the people. Some of my favorite memories happened there. Some of my favorite people still live there. It took a long time and an enormous effort to put down roots in Dutch soil, but then suddenly, without my even noticing, they took hold and became firmly entrenched. There to stay, even if I’m not.

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So what does that make me now? A Dutch expat? Maybe. Because when I heard the news that on April 30th Queen Beatrix will be passing the crown down to her son Willem Alexander, my reaction was to check ticket prices. The Netherlands hasn’t crowned a king in over a century, and the Dutch are already getting excited for this one. Especially considering this beer-loving future king earned the nickname “Prince Pils” in college. What a party his coronation will be!

And like any good Dutch expat, I won’t want to miss it.

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About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

Posted on February 8, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Have a great time in the Netherlands, Kimberle! What a party THAT’s going to be!
    Patti

  2. Kimberle, I know what you mean about living in a foreign country making you MORE patriotic. I lived and worked in Korea in the late 1980’s and while I have wonderful memories, friends and “family” from that time in my life, I think the experience made me appreciate what we have here a whole lot more.

    • That’s exactly it, Tracy. Living abroad totally changes your perception of the world, especially the one you live in.

  3. How exciting for you to feel a part of both countries! I think you’ll have a wonderful time crowning Prince Pils!

  4. I hope you get to go see the crowning, Kimberle. That would be so awesome and then you’d get to share all over your wonderful pictures with us. 🙂

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