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How it all started

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

To keep a long story short our first trip to NZ (New Zealand) was in February 2012. My wife and I both worked as nurses for a recruitment agency and took 3 months unpaid leave to be able to travel with the money we had saved. Our thought back then was that this would be our last big adventure for the coming years as we were considering foster care. Soon, after we had landed at Auckland airport, we experienced a certain brightness in the sky. I still get goosebumps thinking about the contrast of light after a nearly 30-hour flight. The blue of the sky and the sea, the green of the grass and the golden colour of the beaches. A country that is 7 times larger than The Netherlands but has a population of only 5 million of whom 4 million people living on the North Island and only 1 million on the South Island. After cruising around in a campervan NZ has been our dream destination ever since!

In the spring of 2013 we bought a house in Nijkerkerveen and a few months later, in August, an eight-year-old boy came to live with us and in December 2014 our miracle daughter was born. From 2016 me and my wife both studied alongside our jobs. The process of foster care was tough and had a big impact on our family because of many different factors. All these things made that we became burned out by the spring of 2018. In 2017 the situation arose that our foster son could go back to one of his parents. This gave us some air but especially I couldn’t charge my inner battery any longer. We felt we needed a break and some quality time as a family. We bought our house in the year the housing market was at its best to buy and in 2018 the house prices were skyrocketing! So by selling the house we were able to make a good profit, an amount we could never save for. So this was our perfect gift. We sold our house July 2018 and quit our jobs a month after. Our daughter was 3 years old and not yet required to attend school which made us decide to travel the world for at least one year! (with the idea of not going back to The Netherlands!)

September 2018 we left The Netherlands and took off for our first destination. We flew to NZ (safe start) and stayed there for 6 months. We decided not to stay in NZ because our goal was to travel for a year and wanted to see more of the world before settling down again. After NZ we flew to Qatar for 5 days after which we travelled to Namibia and rented a 4x4 with a rooftop tent, drove to Botswana and the Victoria Falls, travelling there for 2 months in total. After Africa we went to Rome for a long weekend. From Rome we took the plane to Iceland where we stayed for 3 weeks. Thereafter we flew to The Netherlands, bought a car and drove to Norway where I had planned a ‘lafte kurs’. This is a traditional way of building Norwegian log houses. During that time I was kind of done with nursing and wanted to try something different. But quite soon I found out that building log houses was more for a hobby than an actual job for the rest of my life.

Botswana 2019

In Norway our year of travel came to an end and the country seemed quite nice to settle down. Norway has a beautiful nature, friendly people and it’s a short distance to travel to The Netherlands to visit family and friends. But before we could settle down we wanted to go on one more adventure. Our final trip went to New York where we stayed for a week. Mireille, my wife, had lived in New Haven Connecticut and wanted to show me around and introduce me to the people she had lived and studied with 20 years ago. When we came back from New York we were running low on money but didn’t speak Norwegian. I had to find some kind of work and was always curious about making coffees behind the bar in a restaurant. I spoke with the manager and we both agreed this little village of Lyngdal needed someone serving coffee speaking English and keen to learn their local Norwegian dialect! We decided to settle in Lyngdal and met some really nice people that helped us find a house. We became good friends afterwards. A small network of people helps a lot when starting in a new country!

Working behind the bar does not pay very well and before I started at the restaurant I had already contacted the charge nurse manager from the ED (Emergency Department) at a local hospital in Flekkefjord. This is a 30 minute drive from where we lived. The manager there told me I needed 6 months to learn Norwegian before I could start on her ED. Two months later I received a call. If I could please start on her ED because they were short on staff 😊 So, after 3 months of work in a restaurant making cappuccinos and serving pizzas I was back on the ED where I started in January 2020. We had been studying Norwegian since September 2019 at (recommended). After a year we obtained our A1 and A2 certificate and in combination with my work on the ED I had a steep learning curve when it comes to language. And then Covid19 visited Norway just like the rest of the world…

First shift on the ED in Flekkefjord.

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