I can still clearly remember the overwhelming feeling of landing in Finland’s plain winter at 17:00hrs…
Everything was white and the few spots clear of snow were completely dark, kind of a black and white movie. I can easily recall my sudden gut reaction, lost my breath for a second and burst out in my head “what the heck am I doing here! I need to go back home right now!”.
But for that to happen I needed to get off the plane, buy another ticket and fly for another 20+ hrs to reach my beloved destination, my comfort and ‘been-there-done-that’ zone.
So there I was, jet-lagged, uncertain, and very insecure about being able to blend-in in such a different environment. All I could think of doing was to take a deep breath and go do the next thing I could do at that time. Get to the hotel for a night’s sleep and find out how to reach the city I was supposed to be at once woken up.
When I first arrived to the Netherlands I thought I knew it all. Having lived in Mexico, Finland, and Italy before; I thought I had got the hang of moving abroad and adapting oneself to a new environment. Boy was I wrong! I still struggled big time, so I went back to my basics: deep breathing, practice gratitude, looking for the blessing in disguise with the Prosperity Experiment; until I was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I started making new connections and creating new and interesting activities –as volunteer- to ease my own process of adaptation whilst dealing with the issue of not working because of the language barrier.
I gradually found organizations and institutions that provided me not only with information, but with specific environments in which I could develop activities of interest and even look for a working platform of my choice.
If you are new in town you may find this info basic and helpful:
The Expat Center: will provide you with general information about how and where to: register, get a driving license, tax advice, etc. They also host events for internationals and work alongside other organizations that may prove to be of practical use for you later on your stay.
The Hub Eindhoven for Expats: offers a space for internationals to get together ‘just because’ and/or with specific aims, such as those declared on their calendar that go from meditation, yoga or Pilates, to guitar lessons, conversations groups in English-French-Italian, board games, crafts, among may others.
Expat Spouses Initiative: This group might help you to find not only a like-minded group, but the chance of finding a job close to your studies and/or preferences for the expanded network they work with. They also provide you with Dutch lessons and conversation groups that might fit your schedule better.
Undutchables: A platform for job-searching for internationals that I have been told works just fine even though it has not worked for me due to my ‘medical profile’.
And last but not least: staying up to date on news and events in your new neighbourhood with Eindhoven News (which you have probably found reading this article)
I think is very important you know -and bear in mind- that you will always experience some resistance, anxiety, fear, even denial when confronted with change.
More important is to acknowledge and lovingly accept it to later be able to move forward. Remember it’s OK, it is only natural, all is well; just keep breathing and moving forward, one simple step at a time, and you will be fine.
Author: Rebeca GM