fast forward, one year later... we're here, and we feel comfortable. we are seeing patterns and know a bit more what to expect from our neighbors and from our adopted country. this realization really hit me a few weeks ago when i saw the city workers hanging up the christmas lights. again. i remember them doing this same task last year, at the same time of year. i remember thinking how interesting it was that this country gets into the christmas spirit much earlier than in the usa. (they don't celebrate halloween or thanksgiving out here, and their big gift-giving day is on st. nicholas day -- 5 december -- not christmas day, so their holiday season is nearly a month earlier than ours, so it makes sense that they'd get out the christmas lights sooner too. last year that felt really weird to me, but this year feels normal.) anyway, i woke up one morning to a sound outside, and when i got dressed and came downstairs to see what it was, i noticed a couple of men dangling outside my window, as they worked to put up the sinterklaas lights. and a few days later, the oliebollen stand started setting up too. (remember the oliebollen? we wrote about them last year -- they taste similar to frybread, and are a seasonal treat out here, like how we have our christmas cookies back home.)
it's fun, it's reassuring, to see the rhythms of this town, and to feel more involved in those rhythms this year. i kinda know a little more of what to expect this time around, which makes hengelo feel more like home and less like a strange foreign city. what a difference a year can make!