“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
Experiencing A New Viewpoint
Our family of four is living in Amsterdam for several weeks this summer. It’s been a unique experience because our regular routine has stayed the same. I’m at home with the girls and my husband goes to work everyday since his office has a location here. It’s been interesting to have essentially the same day-to-day activities, except in a country and culture that we’ve never experienced before.
Not only are we in a different house, but it’s much smaller than our home back in Ontario. The appliances are different, the kids watch TV shows in Dutch, and we’ve learned how to live in a smaller space.
Grocery shopping has become a new adventure. There is a market only a few blocks away and a grocery store within walking distance. We don’t have a car here, so the girls and I walk to get our groceries before making dinner most nights. Trying to fill a grocery bag with items takes me a bit longer than usual since I can’t read anything as I navigate the market holding two little hands. We’ve found several new foods, and the girls have found treats that are becoming new favourites.
Crossing the street involves watching for buses, trams, many cyclists, scooters and motorcycles. (I’ll be honest – for the first few days I usually waited until someone who looked like they know what they’re doing also crossed the street!)
Kids are especially good at seeing these new things as exciting and fun. If anything looks different than at home, they’re interested and enthusiastic to show me: the light switch looks different, there are new cookies to try at the market, and we’ve never been on a tram before!
Becoming More Intentional
With everything being new, some things take a little bit longer to figure out. Sometimes it takes a bit of slowing down in order to do the same simple tasks (especially with kids). Whether this is figuring out a bus route, reading something in another language, or making dinner with different foods, everything takes a bit more time and patience.
This can be frustrating, or it can be a new way to appreciate how we fall into a rhythm at home and take things for granted. In the end, it’s nice to need to slow down a notch and allow more time to take things in. We can stop and see something new, or re-evaluate some of our every-day routines.
It’s nice to see how other people live and to experience new ways of doing things. It can make us reflect on our way of life. It can cause us to question the way we do things back at home just because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done something’.
Our schedule has also been wiped clean except for work and attending church. The rest of the week is up to us with no prior arrangements. We’ve been able to have a lot of good quality family time and enjoy each other’s company.
I hope to remember this when we return home, since it can be all too easy to fall into habits. It can become all too easy to overfill the calendar, and continue to do an activity past the point that it adds value to life. Once again I’ve been reminded to be more intentional. Slow down and see things with new eyes. Discover how a new viewpoint can make us become more intentional about our purchases, habits, and actions.