Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Road Trip!

We're packing and getting ready to take a road trip to the Netherlands to see friends from last season.

I still remember the first time we took a road trip here in Europe. It was from Almere, Netherlands to Brussels, Belgium. I just couldn't get my mind around the fact that we drove two hours and were in another country!

Here we are now, two years later, having experienced so many things in such a short amount of time. It is amazing how two years of your life can bring so much change.

I am more than excited for our return to Groningen. My friend Mollie and I used to have weekly shopping dates, and now we will have the chance to reunite for girls day! I am sure we will do lunch at Bagels and Beans, get coffee in from a local cafe, and shop in all our favorite stores. In the meantime, John can head to the Albert Hein to stock up on our favorite Dutch treats!

Well, I am off.... I need to finish packing!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Waiting Rooms.

I recently introduced myself to the Belgian healthcare.

In an attempt to locate the nearest doctor, I decided to use my GPS system to scout out doctors in the area. To my surprise, my navigation system actually told me there were a couple on the street parallel to mine. So, I talked John into taking a walk with me in an attempt to make an appointment. Five minutes later and not able to locate a doctors office, I found myself walking into a pharmacy timidly asking if they knew of a doctor in the area. When the kind lady handed me a business card with a phone number, address, and office hours I was one step closer to making an appointment.

Upon my return home, I called the doctor, but apparently he was on house call and requested that I either come back later that evening or call later to make an appointment. Still not understanding the process and not attempting to ask further questions I decided to go in-person that evening.

Much to my surprise, there wasn't a secretary or even a sign-in sheet to keep track of the order in which patients arrive. Apparently it just goes on the honor system. The doctor comes into the waiting room and whomever is next in line gets up and follows.

I now understand the hours on the back of the card. Apparently "Op afspraak " means by appointment and "zonder afspraak" means no appointment needed. And, I will be sure to know exactly who is ahead of me in the waiting room next time I enter one!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh the joys of international living.

I frequently say here, "Oh the joys of international living." (Most of time being sarcastic of course.) Usually it is when trying to do paperwork for our stays here or trying to understand cultural differences.

Today was one of those days.

We spent at least an hour in the administrative center trying to sort through the necessary paperwork to complete the requirements to finalize our stay here.

Usually most of the dialouge is directed to the man responsible for coordinating between us and the government officials to ensure we are filing everything correctly. While he is a sweet old man he certainly isn't one you would expect to be helping us with such important paperwork. When we first met him, we decided the team sent him to help us because we certainly couldn't get mad at him. Who gets mad at an old man?

We walked around for ten minutes trying to find a door to ask of yet another document for our stay here. The problem was that John and I didn't really know what we were looking for, so we just followed him around like little puppy dogs following their owner. He walked around pulling at doors and looking into areas remarking, "Impossible."

We finally found builidng "B" which had a large entrance and was clearly marked, apparently we were just looking on the wrong side of the building.

At one point he made a joke in which he couldn't stop laughing about. At that point John asked him if he had anything to drink this morning. His response was, "No, just tea."

We finally met with the lady we were searching for. I still don't know exactly what was said because most of the conversation was in Flemish. But, I do know that now we must wait for someone to come inspect our apartment to deem it large enough for two of us to.

And that, my friends, is when I respond with "Oh the joys of international living."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coffee & Pastries.

Oh how I love Europe. We just returned from a very satisfying morning "cafe verkeerd" at a local tea room. (Complete with a wonderful "slagroom" pastry, I might add.) And while the skies are grey and gloomy, I am quite content.

At first it seemed as we were the only ones roaming the city. We had the sidewalks to ourselves and the streets were quiet with the exception of a tram passing by from time to time. The cars that we did see didn't seem to be in a hurry. It was as though everyone realized that Sunday, indeed, is meant for relaxation and enjoyment.

As we sat in this little tea room my mouth watered at the selection of pastries teasing me from behind the glass. I instantly vowed to myself to return to this quaint little shop filled with locals reading their papers and talking so quietly that you wondered if they were talking at all.

This, my friends, is part of what I love about Europe. The beautiful little shops and cafes where people don't seem to have a care in the world. A place where relationships seem to be a priority instead of an afterthought. Sometimes it seems has though time just stops so that one can truly focus on "being" instead of "doing." Indeed, it is a way of life that I am loving more with each passing day.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cheese anyone?

Well, we just returned from a maddening dash to the local grocery store, the GB. Don't ask me what that stands for, because I certainly don't have a clue. Perhaps I could figure it out, but at this point I haven't attempted such a thing.

After darting our way through the traffic and into the store we quickly went up and down the aisles trying to get everything needed to prepare a dinner for guests this evening.

I am making chili and of course everyone needs cheese to go with chili. So, I stumble around looking for the closest thing to cheddar that I can find.

Then, I see it.... CHEDDAR cheese!

But, one look at the price tag quickly discourages me. I soon realized that is is 11 euros for 250 grams of cheese. So, I did my math for those of you not up to date with the current exchange rate.

Sixteen George Washingtons. That is right, $16 USD for a little block of cheese which can be found nearly anywhere in the States. Needless to say, we passed on the attractive offer.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I am ridiculous.

Dear family and friends,

Well, let it be known. I am ridiculous. I just spent at least an hour trying to come up with a clever name for our new blog, only to come up with the url: "" How original. I thought to myself, who is our audience? Well, probably just family and friends. What will they remember? Well, I suppose they will at least remember our last name. So, there is it. No more procrastination. I finally just did it. I entered the lame name for our blog and pressed "continue."

So, welcome. Welcome to our life. We haven't been great at updating you through e-mails, but hopefully we will do better at keeping up with you through this median. Sometimes life here seems to change daily. Other times it seems as though life here is just "normal," and it is easy to get caught up in day to day living without watching the world interact around us.

We (or rather I) will attempt to allow you to see this little slice of the world through our own eyes and experiences. Sometimes life here seems glamorous, other times it is intimidating, and yet in brief moments it seems overwhelming. For the most part though, we are truly enjoying the opportunity we have to adjust to new cultures while meeting people from all over the world. Indeed, we are blessed in our experiences.

Much love,
The Tureks ;)

P.S. My runner-up name was "lifeofabasketballwife". John thought it was lame. And, perhaps it was. Now that I think about it, it probably would have led readers to believe that I married a basketball.