Moving to any new country can be extremely difficult. Even moving to a new city can be hard. As someone who moved to the Netherlands several years ago from the USA, here are a few things I wish I did right away instead of procrastinating. These things are much more important than I initially thought. The faster you can adapt to your new reality, the better you will feel. If you fight your new reality, you’ll only end up making things harder for yourself. It’s a harsh thing to hear but it’s the truth. Moving to a new country should be fun and exciting. So make sure to make it that.
1. Just Learn Dutch!
I was extremely stubborn, but my partner kept on motivating me to go to Dutch class. This was the best decision ever. I can now understand his family and made some awesome friends, and met Dana. Okay, let’s be honest, I didn’t write that. My partner Kevin wrote that. He insisted on helping me with this blog post. But he has a point.
I didn’t want to learn Dutch. I had no interest at all. As an American, English has been my primary language for most of my life. I also speak Russian as I’m a first-generation American. So many Dutch people speak English very well. So why learn Dutch? Well, I wrote a whole blog post on the importance of learning Dutch but here’s my main point: you’ll feel so much better once you do. You’ll be able to understand people and feel like you fit in.
One show I’d recommend you watch is Keuringsdienst van Waarde. It’s a very interesting show that dives into where our food and other products come from and end up. The show is all in Dutch and can be very helpful with learning Dutch. I watched it on YouTube.
2. Just Get Over It
The reality of the situation is, living in a new country will make anyone feel uncomfortable. Adapting to a new culture is going to be hella hard. The Dutch don’t hide their feelings and can often hurt your feelings. They don’t appear to be warm people. Becoming friends with them can be a second full-time job.
However, at the end of the day, the faster you accept that life is going to be different and try to learn and appreciate their culture, the faster you’ll feel at home. Feeling like you’re going to cry on a daily basis, or even worse, crying on a daily basis isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’re only going to be left frustrated.
3. Your Bike Is Your Lifeline
If you don’t know this already, the Netherlands is huge on biking. The majority of people cycle a lot. For a lot of people, it’s their main mode of transport. Having a car is expensive (taxes, gas, parking, etc). Riding your bicycle will also keep you fit and keep more money in your bank account. A lot of people even have several bikes. Kevin has 3 bikes, a road bike, a mountain bike, and a racing bike. Biking will change your life. It certainly has changed mine.
4. Take a Lesson in Personal Finance
If you haven’t noticed already or you’re moving here soon, the Dutch are known to be frugal. They know how to save and spend well. They don’t flaunt their money, and rich people don’t impress them. Name brands don’t mean sh*t. Quality is king. Having lots of debt (besides for in certain cases like a home loan) is not a norm here.
All advertisements must state this on them “Let op! Geld lenen kost geld.” This phrase essentially means be careful, borrowing money costs money. So if you come from a country where most people buy everything on credit and name brands impress people, you might want to take a personal finance class here or do some research. Even if you are great with money, everyone can learn something new.
5. Find Something You Love and Make It a Hobby
If you want to meet people and feel more at home, make sure to have a hobby. This is especially true if you move to the Netherlands for a Dutch partner. He/she will have a whole life here already. You will have to make a new one here. It’s really important that you have your own life as well. Doing things you love will not only keep you from feeling lonely, but it’s also a great way to make new friends and even learn Dutch. I recently joined a modern jazz dance class. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. Can’t believe that I waited this long. Don’t be like me. In addition to that, I also turned my love of writing into my full-time job.
The featured photo was taken by my friend Anna Salminen.
What are some things you had to get used to when you moved away from your home country? What did you do to adjust to your new life?
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