What I learned the most about being an overseas student and living abroad
Some of the things I expected but others have totally caught me off guard!
The Life of an overseas student living abroad…
B eing an overseas student is an adventure! I have been one for a few years now and I have learned a lot. I always like to say that being one means constantly being in a dilemma of not being a tourist but also not being a local, of having your home in your mother country and having one in your current country or simply not being on vacation but also not being fully at home.
You have to build new routines
Moving away from your old life means leaving your daily habits behind. Living in a new country can be scary in the beginning but the one thing that I have noticed the most is to say goodbye clouds of grey and hello skies of blue!
One routine which I have loved building during my time in the Netherlands is to search for the best coffee spot and visit it regularly. Getting out of the house to explore your surrounding has helped me to not only accept the new lifestyle but also socialise and meet new people. My tip here is to try and be creative and vary your routines, do not stick to one just because you can stay within your comfort zone. You already did the step of moving abroad, why stop now?
You will not turn into the best version of yourself just because you have moved abroad
… but you will get close! The essence here is to not have any expectations. Do not think just because you moved away means you can change your entire identity. It will most likely clash with building new routines and is not really appreciated anyways as you are good enough just the way you are ❤
However, except of that I also had dreams when moving abroad. One of my dreams was to become fluently in the Dutch language, but let me tell you one thing: sometimes it is impossible to reach your dreams, especially when the entire country (and I mean every! age group) is fluently in English. In the beginning, whenever I tried to speak Dutch I got interrupted as the other one could tell that it is not my native language and honestly that is more than just demotivating. As this did not work out as I expected it to be, I asked my Dutch friends to help me learn the language but already after quite some time we stopped doing that as my friends would lose the ability to improve their English and it was not a ‘win-win’ situation anymore. So, no! Although I have hoped to be fluently in Dutch and really tried my best, I am still the best version of myself as I am continuously trying to be open minded.
You spend a lot of time on your own and you are far from home
Yes, you read it right. You are far from home and with far I mean you have left home and maybe even will never come back… Let that sink it. You never know what is going to happen: maybe you find your true love, your dream job or just fell in love with the country? Either way you need to prepare yourself that you cannot return home quickly; and that is okay!
Being an overseas student enables you to explore new versions of yourself and acquire new viewpoints. Most of the times you are all out and about and busy exploring the world. Is not that what makes being an expat so special? You are in charge of your own luck, in charge to build your own home and in charge to find your true path.
Nevertheless, it has its downsides. Being alone 24/7 is challenging. Let me tell you, it took me an entire year to learn how to deal being by myself and not feeling awkward. I was always asking myself what others would think about me sitting in a restaurant and having dinner by my own or grabbing a coffee and sitting in a park. I always thought people would think I am lonely or I would not have any friends but that is not what it is all about. YOU are the narrator of your own story and you can cut and change the strings.
You really miss the food from home
In the beginning I told myself to try all the different foods from the Netherlands to quickly realise that ‘Bitterballen’ and ‘Frikandel’ are not for me, especially since I am a vegetarian. Plus, as I am German I really love my nutritious bread and unfortunately the Netherlands do not share the same desire. I researched to find similar bakeries to the ones we are having in Germany but they were all a little pricey. Not having the food around you that you grew up with or that your grandmother always used to cook is not the best part about being an expat but even this you can change for the better. I started researching on how to bake my own bread and it actually turned into a hobby of mine and I am really happy that I was stuck in the dilemma of relinquish completely or indulge extensively. This has brought me to crispy homemade bread and even new friends to share it with!
And lastly: life can feel like a romantic movie
As I had to go through a lot in the beginning, nowadays I tend to pinch myself to see if this is really the life I have created?! As soon as you start being the narrator of your own story you tend to realise certain things and attract the right people and everything can turn into a cheesy movie with a happy ending. However, to get to that point you have to keep getting up after falling down and keep fighting as we all know your limitation — it is only your imagination.