Interview with Meghan Moorhouse from Florida, USA living in Limburg
My name is Meghan Moorhouse, and I grew up in Pensacola, Florida, USA. I left home to travel with the Up With People program and then to attend Boston College in Massachusetts. I’ve also lived in Nantes, France (as an exchange student), Texas, Oregon, New Jersey, and Virginia in the US.
I have a husband, Bob, and two sons, Emmett (9), and Colin (6). My family moved to Maastricht in June 2014 because of my husband’s job, but his assignment to this area was quite a surprise for us. We jumped at the opportunity to make the most of it by enrolling our children in a local school and by learning the Dutch language and local culture. My children love to point out my Dutch mistakes and correct my pronunciation. I don’t get tired of it because it makes me so proud to hear my two little American boys speaking near-fluent Dutch!
Bikes, Christmas trees and Dutch creativity
While the United States and the Netherlands share many similarities, there are still cultural differences that exist. In the US it’s considered polite to be 15-20 minutes late to a social event, but the Dutch are usually much more punctual. Also, there are television and print ads shown here that would be considered too risqué to be shown in the US, since American culture is usually more conservative in terms of language and sexuality. Finally, while biking is becoming more common in much of the US, my family is constantly amazed at how efficient and creative the Dutch can be on their bicycles. We have seen people carrying Christmas trees on the back of their bikes, students dragging suitcases as they head to the train station, and other things that we’ve never seen anyone do on a bike in America!
We specifically chose to live in Maastricht so that we could take advantage of all the city has to offer. There is always a festival to enjoy, a new restaurant to try, or an exhibition to take in. On weekends, we often like to take a leisurely walk that includes window shopping in the Wyck, enjoying frites from Reitz on the Markt or a drink in a café on Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, and taking in the sights and sounds of this charming city. We like to visit the temporary expositions in Centre Ceramique and events such as the Night of Classical Music in January, the Ridderronde bike race in August, the Bruis music festival in September, and, of course, all of the festivities related to Carnaval.
It boggles my mind
Education is a passion in my life, both professionally and personally. Previously, I worked in education with students of all ages and backgrounds. Currently, I’m completing a Master’s degree in Global & International Education from Drexel University (USA). I’m fascinated and energized by how meaningful interactions between people of different cultures lead to new knowledge and understandings. That’s likely why my favorite thing about living here is the mix of languages, cultures, and people that I can experience every day. It still boggles my mind that I can be in three countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany) before lunchtime! In the United States, learning foreign languages and about other cultures is not emphasized as much. There is also a much stronger focus on domestic issues, often to the exclusion of global ones. In America, I have to work much harder to provide international experiences and perspective for my family. In Maastricht these are an everyday part of society and education. I really value and enjoy living in a place like that.
Around-the-world trip through Poland, Southeast Asia, Australia to…Maastricht
This summer, my husband will finish his assignment and our family will start a yearlong, around-the-world trip. This is a project ten years in the making, and we are so excited that our departure is fast approaching. We will homeschool our children in the basic subjects and learn from the world around us. Emmett and Colin have grown up knowing about this trip, and they have helped organize our basic itinerary. Our current plan is to travel by land from Maastricht through Germany, Poland and the Baltics, then across Russia and through China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. From there….who knows! We will see where our backpacks take us with the time (and travel money) we have left.
Originally, we planned to go back to the United States after our around-the-world trip to find new jobs and plant roots for our family. However, now we hope to return to the Maastricht area in summer 2017 and settle down here instead. I hope to restart my career in higher education or cross-cultural training and consulting. Our children are receiving a strong bilingual education, and we enjoy the vibrant, international atmosphere of Limburg. While we never dreamed we would live here, now we dream of staying for good.
We would like to thank: International Women’s Club of South Limburg: http://iwc-sl.nl/ for their help and their contribution.