Our blogger Mrudula moved to Amsterdam a month ago. She is facing a common question "How to make peace with yourself during changes in life and build a new home?" Let's read her experience.
The D-Day arrived, it was time for me to fly. I made the two day journey to Amsterdam through Abu Dhabi. I was both excited and sad. Excited since the event I and my family had been planning for almost a year was happening, it was a great milestone for me. I was sad since it would mean living thousands of kilometers away from my country, my family and friends. How will I manage living by myself with no one around me to look for help ? Will I be able to make it ? These were my thoughts that I tried not to ponder over for too long. Let me tell you how I have fared so far.
Being new in Amsterdam can be stressful...
I travelled to the Netherlands with my sister who was here to help me settle down and be by my side as I was overwhelmed by my surroundings, since it is my first time abroad, ever. I was unsure of myself and thus confused by the simplest things: everything is so different, people are so different, I don’t speak the language. It was very easy to get intimidated by everything and give into negative thoughts: I felt dumb, incapable for the responsibility which comes with living by myself. I, on one of my first days tried and failed to reach the municipality on time by myself since I got lost: I didn’t understand the transportation system, it was so complex, finding the bus stops, the right direction to travel and to top it off, the sheer cost of the tickets. I had spent 11 Euros on a single Connexion ticket for a day which I later found out I couldn’t use the next day unlike the GVB card. My sister and her friends (who joined us later) comforted me. My sister reminded me of all the things I had achieved already, what a great opportunity it was for me to grow up as a person. But what her friend told me has stayed with me ever since: set realistic expectations for yourself and stop being so abrasive to yourself in your thoughts, you will need time to understand and learn to do things, you will fail on your first attempts, maybe even in your later attempts, you will spend a lot of money in the process too sometimes; But that’s okay.
...but after a bit it's fine!
This was three weeks ago and now it's been a month since I am here. I have since then traveled by myself many times, bought a bicycle from a very warm person in Waterlooplein market, completed my 25 Km excursion trip on bicycle with the help of my classmates who ensured I was with the group and was safe. I made the journey back home on the bicycle as well with their help ! As naive as it sounds, I would say, people are kind, ask them for help, talk to them about the troubles you are facing, they may be able to help you, if not they might know someone who can, but if nothing can be done, don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. Write down your milestones, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you’re lovely because self love is important for your growth.
Being alone but not lonely
Building on the last sentence, I will talk about my experience living alone in Amsterdam until now. My sister stayed in Amsterdam for about a week before leaving for Belgium and then Berlin for a trip with her friends before going back to India. I felt sad and empty the day before and on the day she left. What was I going to do with myself all alone ? How lonely is it going to be to not see any familiar faces. I live in student accommodation where I share a kitchen with my flatmates. I had gotten in touch with a few of them before I even left India to create a rapport with them. We meet in the kitchen at least once a day and sit to have conversations, eat and share our favourite dishes from time to time. We also sometimes talk about how we are faring in the university, check on each other when we are sick or talk about feelings. Of course it is not all a bed of roses: keeping the common area clean is a bit of a hassle, loud music or noise late into the night in our flat or from other flats is another flat is an issue too sometimes. But it is very easy to solve these issues by talking it through clearly, setting rules and cooperating. And these people have become the familiar faces I look for in this short period of a month. It helps that all of us are international students and are facing problems which are somewhat similar. We are able to empathise with each other, help one another or just have someone to talk to, which is more helpful than most people realise. So I would say even though I am alone, I am not lonely. I am at home now.