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This week has already provided many opportunities to reflect on my own and with others about everything that’s happened since I took the leap of faith to come to Amsterdam. Yesterday was no exception. My wonderful colleagues arranged leaving drinks and dinner with our team. Over drinks the questions seemed to center on what I will or won’t miss. I could hardly find an answer for things I won’t miss unless it was a joke about raw herring. The list of things I will miss is too long to cover. One of the biggest is certainly the warm days of Amsterdam and all of the wonderful things that come with it; cycling places with friends, sitting on sunny terraces enjoying the view, picnics in parks, cruising the canals in little boats and how the city comes to life when the sun shines. Sure anyone can do most of those things in any number of cities around the world – maybe not boats on canals – but it’s the view that comes along. I already feel that is one of my fondest memories of this city and maybe why leaving now, as winter arrives, is a good thing.

Equal to the city are the people. Both socially and at work I have had an amazing experience learning from so many people with varied backgrounds, cultures and opinions. I have learned now more than ever how valuable a conversation with someone who has a completely different outlook can be. The people I’ve worked with the last  two years, not only here in Amsterdam but across Europe, have all played a huge part in how things have progressed and I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of them. And friends of course. I’ve never been a social butterfly, one to keep a large circle of acquaintances, preferring instead a few close friends. Here in Amsterdam I have been lucky enough to add a handful more to that group and know these people – though across an ocean or two – will be in my life for a long, long time.

The tears fell for the first time last night over dinner as I looked around the table at the faces I’ve come to know, rely on and respect. They were tears of sadness to think I won’t sit next to them for much longer, but also tears of joy and gratitude for all of the reasons mentioned above. Tears will fall again many more times this week (including as I write these words) and I’m glad. It means this place and these people are deep in my heart and soul.