When I moved to the Netherlands I had made a promise to myself to read more. I came alone, so I didn’t have friends to go to the movies with and I certainly wasn’t going to pay for Dutch TV when I didn’t understand the language. Fast-forward to over one year later and I could count the number of books I had finished since moving abroad. Let’s see, 1…2…3. Yes, that’s right, three.
So, why wasn’t I reading?
You could say it was because I had moved to a new country and city and wanted to experience new things! That would be 75% accurate. However, at the same time, I was also quite a bit addicted to Netflix in the morning while getting ready for work and in the evening before going to bed. I had gone through Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, Black Mirror, and so many other series that they all blurred together. I couldn’t keep the anti-heroes straight!
Netflix be gone!
In the late spring of 2016, I found myself moving to Rotterdam from Utrecht (about a 35 minute train ride away). I was so excited to live in a new city and have fast Internet (I was dissatisfied with my previous provider) and start some new TV series because let’s face it, I was about to start the summer season which meant new Game of Thrones, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and a bajillion other programs. As we began to unpack our boxes and start our lives in Rotterdam, my roommates and I discovered that we had to wait a couple of weeks to receive an Internet connection and router. Being expats, we had no idea we had to call the company weeks in advance in order to start a new service. Therefore, we begrudgingly accepted our fates and counted down the days until we had service again, and I decided to keep my Netflix account with the hope that someday soon we would be reunited.
Meanwhile, the move to Rotterdam from Utrecht lengthened my commute to work and at the same time, I was also celebrating a birthday. Both events/facts seem random, but in fact they worked together to pave the way for lots of new books and plenty of reading time.
A new dawn
As we approached the new service delivery date, I had already finished two books – A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Both extremely different – one being scientific and the other philosophical – but both producing the same effect; wetting my appetite for more books.
As “luck” would have it, the service provider (that shall remain nameless) royally screwed up and it would essentially be another month and two weeks until we would have Internet again.
Once we moved passed the frustration and the whining of, “NO! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?” I decided to challenge myself to try and finish one book every week. I mean really, what else was I going to do at home?
Without Internet, the habit was not difficult to start. I had an hour before bed and a 50-minute train ride (if I wasn’t sleeping), which could mean 50 – 100 pages per day. At the end of the summer, I was on a roll and kept up with the challenge of one book every week or every other week if it was a difficult read.
Continuing the habit
We finally had an Internet connection about early/mid-July and my roommates and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a desire to binge-watch Netflix. I felt the urge to use the Internet but had no idea why. Do I surf online? If so, what do I surf? Do I send e-mails? Do I need to send e-mails? The question became, “what did I do before?”
And as I struggled to figure out how to get back into the flow of having Internet, I ended up cancelling my Netflix subscription and going back to my usual habit of picking up a book.
So, ask me how many books I’ve read since moving to the Netherlands.
Okay, Lauren, you somewhat pretentious little bookworm, we’ll bite. How many?
Not a clue.
Written by Lauren Maxwell. Read more by Lauren on her blog Dutchish.