Moving abroad is an amazingly enriching experience. Though it comes with many challenges, one of them is this unexpected, sometimes unwanted professional break.
I’ll tell you a bit of my experience…
Back in Honduras, I was working full time, from 7:00am to 5:00pm, with an hour drive to the office. I was waking up at 5:30am in a rush to get out of home by 6:00am. Then returning home with my batteries drained after at least an hour of heavy traffic… crazy exhausting routine.
When I received the news that we were moving 🤸🏻♀️ I was jumping in a foot, super happy! I sent my resignation letter and started looking at the labor market in my new home city Amsterdam.
My first concern, the language. Most of the job postings have in their requirements “written and spoken Dutch is a must” so from that point on, I knew many doors were going to be closed.
There are many international companies that use English as main communication language but you have to do your homework and research. I started looking for this info before moving, even though it was not in my immediate plans to look for a job (and I am very happy I did not) anyhow, I wanted to be aware of the topic.
Of course, I was concerned that I might get depressed or anxious or crazy about being home and not working, although, I also had other plans in my head.
First, I wanted to get familiar with my new city. When relocating, you don’t even know where the supermarket is! Buying things for the new home, unboxing your belongings and in general, trying to figure out how the hell things work in this new place you pretend to call home.
On the other hand, I have a hobby that since back home I wanted to take to another level but since I was too busy “I didn’t have time” to move forward with it. So what a perfect opportunity right?
The survival part.
The most important thing is to stay busy!
Use your calendar! 📆 Try to add at least one activity per day. They won’t be important meetings with managers or clients, but instead some other pretty cool things like exploring parks, museum visits, volunteer activities, workshops or an afternoon out for a café with new local friends or with the best companion you can imagine: yourself.
Get a new hobby, learn a new skill. Try crafts, painting, dancing or singing, do sports, learn to play a new instrument or a new language, diversity is the thing here! Me? I did a crochet blanket during my first months and had never done this activity before, I just decided to learn so I could have my blanket for the winter days!
Look for the free of charge activities in the city – like opera concerts, presentations, music rehearsals, park activities or “meetup” which is a platform with activities/interests, from hobbies, sports, education, coffee to practice a language, etc).
Get the museumkaart! Its 60€ and you can visit almost every museum in The Netherlands without additional charges. This will keep you busy plus help you to understand the history and culture of your adoptive nation.
Explore the parks! Plenty of them, each beautiful and different! Take with you a book, some snacks, picnic/yoga mat, just go out and enjoy nature.
Visit the neighborhood house – Almost every neighborhood/areas have a “Huis van de Buurt” and all neighbors are welcome. You can have a coffee there, ask for the activities they do, have a chat with one of the locals, you can offer your help– they always need volunteers for some tasks.
First of all, stay calm, don’t panic. Don’t rush trying to do everything at once or you might collapse! Enjoy this opportunity to start again and take some time for you – this doesn’t mean to lose time! Take this moment to explore the city, the tips/secrets and learn to live like a local.
Your stability will transmit stability to your significant other/family as well.
The Netherlands is a very friendly place for entrepreneurs so if you have some business in mind, it might be a good opportunity to give it a try.
Do your homework and research the working situation/requirements for your specific profession. Make up your mind of what would be the next steps to take when you are ready to enter the labor market (CV/cover letter, LinkedIn, salary ranges, recruitment agencies, etc).
Before you start working, I consider extremely important to feel confident in your new town, know a bit about your surroundings, the culture and the people. Develop a sense of belonging so you are able to enjoy the professional path and don’t feel intimidated/excluded/overwhelmed in your new job environment.
Yes I know, I was also missing to feel professionally active and earn some money. So after six months off, I am finally back in the office.
And well, eventually you will also start working and lose your freedom!!! So in the meantime enjoy your free time and make each day count for good!
Success in the journey!