In my goal to support expats with their transition, I take regular interviews with Expats. They reveal true stories filled with challenges, issues, joy, but also TIPS and advise for newcomers. Arriving in a new country is a big change, so what can you do to feel ‘’at Home’’? This month I introduce you to Erika Tivarini. All the way from Indonesia to the Netherlands. How did Erika adjust and integrate? Just sit down, relax and enjoy this month’s true story 🙂
Interview with Erika
From Bandung -Indonesia to The Netherlands…
Who is Erika?
Erika: ‘’I am 26 years old, married to Ruddy, we are both Indonesian. My background is Graphic design and I have worked as Art director in the advertising industry for 5 years. Currently working as freelance in graphic design (logo, posters, billboards, …), which is mostly online, but any requests are VERY welcome.
When did you move and why the choice of The Netherlands?
Erika: ‘On the 26th of April 2015, I moved in with my husband in Eschede (NL). We married in February this year. He has been working here for 3 years doing a PhD in science. We’ve been together 5 years and until now as a LONG-distance relationship.
Deciding is one thing, but then what steps did you take before moving?
Erika: ‘’ My husband only has a 1 year contract here, but I took the chance (or RISK) to experience a new country. So, I left my job end of last year and it’s very strange now how I fill my days. I used to have a nice daily routine but now the routine is GONE. No more schedule…no more regular job, no fixed salary…..and well….it feels stressful actually.
This is not a holiday for me, I need a job and I want a job routine instead of standing in the kitchen and surf internet every day.
So hopefully a job will appear….something in branding, logo, design would be nice. But meanwhile, I have started volunteer jobs in my community, and that helps my ‘’empty’’ days of the week, but also, it helps me to meet new people and get to know the culture. I love art and design, so I am working one day at a cultural place that has a lunchroom, and exhibitions and music events.’’
What was your first impression of The Netherlands?
Erika: ‘’When I first landed in Schiphol, I LOVED it! I was impressed with the architecture. A mix of modern and old, it’s so beautiful!
Of course when I compare it to Indonesia where the traffic is almost always chaos, but here is more modern, and clean.
Also the birds amaze me! I never saw so many birds flying around humans without being afraid, they are so close by and you can hear them all the time.
The art here too is special, it is alive, almost in every corner of every city, there’s art. I admire it so much. In Enschede, where I live in, there was ‘’Wanaplay’’ , an art installation with 16 giant swings making music composition, makes the city feel more alive and vibrant
What was your first impression of The Dutch PEOPLE?
Erika: People are more expressive, and straight to the point. In Indonesia people are very polite and careful when they speak. Here in the NL, people just talk, chat, dance, express their love, express themselves. I enjoy to see that freedom.’’
Did you integrate and adjust smoothly with the Dutchies?
Erika: ‘’I have met my neighbour who is an Indonesian lady. Her daughter and I already went out for lunch. They treated me so kind, and that feels good. But they are the only people I have met so far :-).
Actually I met one more neighbour who I am now watering the plants for while she was on holiday. Now we become a good friend, making cookies together.
What’s your opinion n the living standards?
Erika: ‘If you look and compare with the salary you receive, life is cheap here.
But if I go shopping, it’s very expensive compared to the prices in Indonesia. So, if you have a job and salary, it seems fine.’’
What was your biggest Challenge moving to the Netherlands?
Erika: ‘’ The BIGGEST challenge is language!!! I’m trying to learn online but the pronunciation is so difficult for me.
Second challenge is the Weather…it IS COLD! I come from a tropical climate so this is really cold for me. Hopefully I get used to it. ‘’
Please tell us your KEY TIPs when coming to The Netherlands.
’’TIP#1: Bring your preferred items. For e.g. your laptop, tablet and items from your expertise or skills. The items that define you. I hold on to my personal stuff and tools that remind me of ‘’me’’ and of what I do. It keeps me from stress and unknown things. Such items bring me back to myself.
TIP # 2: Don’t be afraid to make friends with someone new. Don’t isolate but try to connect. Make an effort with anybody, not only locals. Don’t close yourself up.
TIP # 3: If you can’t find a fixed (full-time) job yet as an expat, try to find VOLUNTEER jobs. This way, you can start to meet new people, create new connections, and also get new valuable experience by being a volunteer in the causes that interests you. ‘’
Thank you very much!
Photo of me and my husband on our way to Giethoorn, the Venice of the Netherlands. hehehe, a beautiful place.
As an expat myself, I have been living and working in various countries, speak 6 languages, and experienced many challenges that I learned to turn around into new opportunities.
Workshops in cultural diversity and keynote speaking is what I enjoy doing.
I love to inspire people and help them to become their best selves! Life changes, and so can you!