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  • Yaprak Bahar

Expat life

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

my personal account of the difficulties of relocating and adjustment to the Netherlands

I moved to the Netherlands in November 2017 with my partner. It was primarily my decision to move as I wanted to do a master’s degree in Amsterdam. My partner agreed to move to Amsterdam and got a job here before moving. Even though we both wanted to move to a city where there would be better job opportunities then Prague, where we used to live, I felt the responsibility to make my partner leave our beloved city Prague.

When we first arrived in Amsterdam, I didn’t work for two months to take care of settling down matters. It was quite an isolated time for me and I struggled with feeling belong to this city. In my experience, the expectations I had about Amsterdam and also the life stage I am at played a great role in my adaptation process. The first thing anyone who lives or has lived in the Netherlands says is that how awful the weather is. So, I had quite low expectations about the weather and equipped myself with rain friendly clothing. I can say that I was not hugely affected by the gray sky in the Netherlands. When the sun shows its face, I appreciate those rare moments more!

Although I had a realistic expectation about the weather, I hadn’t fully prepared myself how challenging it would be to getting used to living in a different place, to build a social life, friendships, and a sense of home here. In the beginning, even everyday activities like grocery shopping or taking public transportation seemed more challenging than before. I remember becoming easily anxious and losing confidence in myself. My first expat experience in Prague had seemed easier as I moved as a student, and then quickly became a part of a young expat community. However, at the moment I am at a different stage where I also enjoy some solitude. I needed to understand how I was then and I am now, and accept this change in me and my present reality. Having that understanding and compassion allowed me to regain confidence. I started building my little community, seizing up the opportunities this wonderful city offers, with the people that I share similar worldviews.

Expat life carries many challenges, but it also comes with its gifts. Keep in mind to always check in with yourself and moderate your expectations. Be compassionate, especially at the beginning, if you are feeling sadness, depression, or low confidence. Most importantly, reach out for support when you feel stuck.

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