Aah.. Autumn! Do you know today is officially the 4th day of Autumn? From one season to another, I too have seamlessly transformed into a slightly new person and I can’t begin to explain how.
It’s actually difficult to summarise life updates in just a blog post. There are parts of it that you don’t want to make it public and the rest are bibs and bobs from so many different aspects of your life – work, relationships, travel plans, health, etc. So, yes, grab yourself a cup of tea and stay with me here while we have a little chat about what’s been up from my cozy nook in Amsterdam!
A lot of my family, friends, and readers often congratulate me and tell me how lucky I am to be living in Europe especially in Amsterdam. Did you know that Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and happiest places to live in the world? The nip in the air, the warm fuzzy smell, strangers smiling back at you, the cobbled streets and a picture-perfect city that seems straight out of a book.
I still pinch myself sometimes when I am strolling around the city and can’t stop marveling about how beautiful it feels to live in Amsterdam. One of the reasons that got me excited about moving here was the plethora of opportunities waiting for me in a new country as a marketing professional and a creator.
My first summer in this part of the world has been nothing less than amazing. We did experience some beautiful warm days of spring and summer in the Netherlands which was so refreshing from what I have seen in my 29 years of life. A good part of my summer was also spent in Greece which makes 2019 so much more special. You can read about my Greece stories here. I completed my first 6 months of a happy marriage, traveled to a few countries in Europe and officially made myself home in The Netherlands without complaining about longer days and shorter nights.
But, there is something that I have been dealing with for a while. It’s a topic that hasn’t been shared enough on the internet and even I do not know how to approach it properly but sometimes tackling things in small chunks is better than not sharing about it at all. Right?
THE EXPAT LIFE
I am talking about the EXPAT LIFE . It’s a subject that is constantly evolving and only people who are away from their own country will resonate with this. While there are a lot of benefits and an instant lifestyle upgrade when you move from one country to another, what nobody tells you is it makes you LONELY. A sense of not belonging to a new country slowly creeps in making you feel terribly homesick and being homesick is just an understatement.
It exactly feels like starting all over again, the beginning of adulthood in fact. You do not speak their language. The food, culture and communication etiquettes are absolutely foreign to you. Sometimes, your academic credentials and work experience seem insufficient to get a step ahead in life. And a little bit of a racial indifference to make it all worse. So, yes things have been a little difficult on that front.
Making new adult friendships is a whole new chapter altogether when you are in a new country. I have juggled different friends and friendship circles in my life and drifted apart from a few but I was never at a point where I didn’t know anyone at all.
In the past, friendships happened to me at work, at internships, social gatherings, university, etc. And, I never “had” to get in touch with someone so we could be friends. The sound of it, in fact, is alien to me. I have never approached people with an intention of building a friendship with them. It’s really challenging and weird for introverted extroverts like me to build adult friendships in a different country without having a work/University situation where they happen to you naturally.
Sometimes you need to hold up a mirror before you hold up a magnifying glass
After a lot of sleepless nights, days full of impostor syndrome and lack of motivation I finally came out of my whiny I-am-not-good-enough-for-this-place cocoon and brought myself to shake things a little bit which is a code for putting in effort.
I did make an effort to connect with people I didn’t know. I introduced myself to strangers on Instagram and meet up groups asking them to meet me over a cup of coffee. Every time, I wrote a message like that I waited for a response with my eyes partly closed. It is a different experience. Making adult friendships without context is harder than you can imagine especially for a pseudo-social person like me. But, I am tackling this problem one cup of coffee at a time.
On work front, I am meeting people who are from the same industry as mine. I have done indefinite pitches and cover letters introducing my work to startups and organisations here. A lot of times, when you are an expat, no matter how qualified you are, your cultural-fit, languages you speak and other things matter more than anything else.
To combat multiple rejections, I finally signed myself up for freelance opportunities which is again a big first for me as I hail from a corporate background. Again professionally, this was not an easy transition for me and made me feel like a demotion in my career. But as an expat, one thing I have learnt is if opportunities don’t reach you then you have got to create them for you in whichever way possible.
So, that was my new-expat life in a nutshell. So, if you are an expat just like me reading this from another time zone from some corner in the world, I HEAR YOU!!! Nothing is permanent. Things change and will take time. You are allowed to feel lonely for a while.
You will eventually come out of that space. You will meet new people. You will see opportunities coming to you. It takes a lot of coming out, faking confidence and a few hard days to get used to a new place and build connections. So, yes there will be a time when you will look back and realize how far you have come from feeling like an Expat to not feeling like one.
I am so thrilled to have shared my transitional Spring to Fall life experience with you all. This outfit and these pictures captured by new We-met-in-Amsterdam friend Jayasri Arun sums it all up. Also, this was my first time ever where I consciously started putting in effort into dressing up in beautiful hues of fall colours and prints.
Skirt: The NewYorker
Pictures taken by Portraits By Jayasri