These changes are evident in so many things: the way I dress, how I carry myself, and what I keep in my purse.
Yes, I said what I keep in my purse.
Sometimes, ladies, a different environment, lifestyle and attitude dictates what you carry around in your handbag.
So what's in my purse?
My wallet complete with Dutch driver's lisence, verblijfsvergunning, bank cards (personal and company), a fold-out map of Utrecht, discount stamps for Pipoos and Beadies, Gamma and Body Shop customer cards, insurance card, OV-Chip Card, Makro pass, a two-year old coffee card from my days studying at the Volksuniversiteit, my Museumkaart, a MediaMarkt gift certificate, a cheat-sheet with important numbers and phone numbers, a class card for Studio Lombok dance studo, and my hospital appointment card. Very rarely do I have any Euros on me. A little carry over of my American ways, I guess
My agenda where I also keep business cards, addresses, notepaper and a pen.
Glasses and sunglasses. Not that I use my sunglasses that often here, but they're there just in case!
A small digital camera. I'm still enough of a newbie that I sometimes see somthing I simply must take a picture of.
Passport holder containing my US passport, my US driver's lisence, US bank cards, my Metro card, Victoria's Secret and Regal Cinema customer cards, and my Delta Airlines flight pass card.
A little shower cap sort of do-hicky for my bicycle seat to keep my bum dry when it rains.
A travel-sized umbrella. I have never regretted carrying this item.
Baby wipes. Sadly, they're for me. Mostly for wiping up any mess I make on myself (or in the car, or on my bike or... well, anywhere and everywhere), but I also use them to clean my glasses.
Cosmetics bag with lotion, anti-bacterial handgel, a brush, a hair tie, lipstick, painkillers, and dental floss.
Tissues and lots of them. There's something about the atmosphere here in the Netherlands that has turned my sinuses into a Dutch boutique in the city center in the afternoon on a Saturday and my nose into a marathon runner.
A massive collection of keys (for the apartment, apartment building, storage shed, mailbox, bicycle lock, my parents' house, a friend's house) being kept company by several keychains (Nijntje, an old ornamented key that no longer goes to anything, Mater from Cars), customer cards that double as keyrings (Borders, PetSmart, A.C. Moore, CVS Pharmacy), and a storage drive with money on it for making copies at the Hood College library from when I studied there in 2007.
And, in case you were wondering, yes, my purse is pretty massive in size. Good thing too. Because when my husband's around things like his keys, the car radio, GPS, his sunglasses, and the car keys seem to magically appear in my purse as well. Oddly enough, this is the same husband who used to get on my case for carrying such a ridiculously large and heavy purse.
If you're coming to the Netherlands and are wondering what kinds of things you might want/need to add to your purse, here's a list of ten things you definitely want to consider.
So, fellow expat ladies, it's time for you to weigh in. What's in your purse now that you're an expat? Please share in the comments.