The high street mannequins are flaunting heavily autumnal get-ups, cable-knit sweaters and corduroy trousers and quirky Aztec-patterned mittens. The ice cream shops are battening down the hatches for their winter hibernation and even the traffic lights seem to be flashing FALL.FALL.FALL.

For the last 18 years, virtually every autumn has signaled the start of a new academic year for me. I’m a school junkie, see. Autumn 2011 was to be the last of its kind, but then this September slunk up behind me and slyly tossed me in a mire of books again.

Because in a few weeks, I’m taking the Big Bad Dutch Exam — eight hours of official poking and prodding to see if my new language is fluent enough for me to pledge an oath to the good Queen Beatrix, become a citizen of her kingdom, and fulfill my Bourne Identity fantasy of stashing multiple passports in the lining of my briefcase.

It’s surreal and very grounding at the same time. It says to me, I live here for real. I am thriving here. This is my home not just because I had the audacity of chasing a man across the seven seas and putting a ring on it, but because I legitimately belong here. Things I had a hard time believing each time I crooned the culture stress blues these last three years.

Roots are such knobbly, gangly, fascinating surprises.  Why do you live where you do? (holla if you share the Bourne fantasy)