Have you ever felt like a stranger in a new country, as if you couldn't fully be yourself or embrace the joys of life? You're not alone. Adjusting to a new environment can be challenging! In this post, I share valuable tips to help you rediscover that feeling of feeling at home, have a smooth relocation and adjustment, and truly enjoy your time in the Netherlands. Let's embark on a journey towards rekindling a sense of belonging and creating a fulfilling expat experience.
1. Join new communities and events
Consider joining new communities through platforms such as the Meetup app, Facebook events, or online communities on Google that cater to your interests and offer activities you would like to be a part of. Participating in these activities not only helps you meet new people and make friends but also creates a sense of safety and belonging. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to broaden your perspective by connecting with interesting individuals whom you may not typically encounter in your home country. Engaging with people from diverse backgrounds enriches your perspective, fosters cultural understanding, and promotes personal growth.
2. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and start conversations with your neighbors.
Fostering connections and cultivating friendships with your neighbors, colleagues, and people in proximity to your daily life not only helps create a sense of belonging and support but also contributes to a sense of familiarity and feeling at home in your new environment. Starting conversations with strangers can add an element of spontaneity and excitement to your life which can buffer the feeling of loneliness while being in a new country. It also opens doors to unexpected encounters, interesting stories, and memorable experiences that can enrich your journey. Conversations with strangers can unexpectedly lead to new opportunities, knowledge, or experiences. You might learn about hidden gems in your community, receive recommendations for books, movies, or activities, or stumble upon unexpected shared interests. Engaging with strangers from different backgrounds and cultures you can also learn about different traditions, customs, and perspectives, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.
3. Travel and discover a new country.
Traveling allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and customs of the new country. By experiencing everyday life, traditions, and social dynamics firsthand, you gain a deeper understanding of the local way of living, which aids in adapting and integrating into society. Traveling exposes you to new experiences, sights, sounds, and tastes. Trying local cuisine, participating in cultural events, visiting historical sites, and engaging in activities specific to the new country help broaden your horizons and enrich your understanding of the local culture. This exposure enhances your adaptation by fostering a sense of familiarity and appreciation for your new surroundings which can also help to feel like home!
4. Make an effort to find a Dutch friend.
Having a Dutch or local friend can provide invaluable insights into the local culture, introducing you to the best new events and locations for a fulfilling experience. They can serve as a cultural guides, helping you immerse yourself more easily by sharing their knowledge of the customs, traditions, and hidden gems of the country. With their friendship, you'll have access to insider tips and tricks, making your transition and adaptation smoother while maximizing your enjoyment of the new culture. They can introduce you to their social circle, invite you to local gatherings or events, and help you connect with other locals. Being friends with a local allows for a genuine cultural exchange. You can share your own cultural background and experiences while learning about theirs. This exchange of ideas, traditions, and perspectives enriches both parties and promotes mutual understanding and appreciation.
5. Make an effort to re-establish your hobbies in the Netherlands.
Most likely, the hobbies you enjoyed in your home country are also available here in the Netherlands. Take the time to explore further, and you may discover similar communities for example similar scouting or sports clubs that you were part of in your home country. Engaging in your familiar hobbies can aid in your adaptation and integration into the new country. It allows you to meet like-minded individuals and forge connections with people who share your interests. In doing so, you may find yourself feeling so at home that you momentarily forget you are in a different country altogether.
6. Seek out individuals from your home country who are residing in the new country.
While finding a local friend is ideal, connecting with people from your home country in a new country can be a convenient option that requires less stepping out of your comfort zone. It can be a fascinating experience to discover a new culture and country through the perspective of someone who shares similar background and experiences. It provides a unique opportunity to exchange insights and observations about the strange and different aspects of the new country, creating a sense of connection among fellow expatriates. Moreover, organizing local events with individuals from your home country allows you to stay connected to something familiar and deeply enjoyable, fostering a sense of belonging and recreating the feelings you experienced in your home country. These connections can lead to lasting bonds, as you navigate and embrace the exciting journey of adapting to a new country together.
7. If you feel deeply stuck consider seeking help from a psychologist
Moving to a new country can be tough, and it can make you feel depressed, lonely, stressed, and alienated, especially if you weren't feeling well in your previous country. A psychologist can create a safe and supportive space for you to express and process these emotions. They can offer guidance, and coping strategies, and help you develop social skills to navigate the challenges. They can also assist you in understanding your identity in the new culture and promote personal growth. In summary, a psychologist can provide the necessary support for you to overcome the difficulties of moving to a new country and thrive in your new environment.
See PART 2 here:
Psychological Support for expats in the Netherlands in live (in Veldhoven or online)and Beyond!
I'm Indre, an expat psychologist with extensive personal and professional experience in navigating life in new countries. Having spent over 5 years in the Netherlands and explored other international destinations, I understand the unique challenges you may face as an expat.
My mission is to provide reliable and patient-focused psychological support through my International Therapy services. Whether you're struggling with cultural adaptation, homesickness, or other emotional challenges associated with living in a new country, I'm here to assist you in your journey toward better adaptation.