My mission is to inspire people, by speaking and writing, but also by interviewing expats. Living abroad is such a change, which can be fun and scary at the same time. I publish these interviews, revealing personal stories, tips and advices from expats to you. Enjoy this month’s story from Cristina.
Interview with Cristina
Original country: Italy
Expat countries France/The Netherlands
Current country: The Netherlands
Your story in a nutshell
I am from the north of Italy. I am Italian/ French, nearly 30 years old. (Single) I moved first to south Holland in 2013 for a few months and then I moved to north Holland to Amsterdam in 2014. I work for a company that hosts language schools abroad. My hobbies are reading, walking, exploring the Amsterdam, museums, discovering the best cafeterias in town, climbing, meditation & esoteric arts and few more.
Why your choice of your current country
My love of the surroundings (canals, awesome lights in the sky, ducks, windmills, Dutch houses) ..it is crazy..I know. But I love it. Also because here I can have a job easily and in Italy the job situation is horrible.
Adapting myself to certain things. Being away from my old parents and my dog. Not having my own kitchen to cook in peace.
Doing things, such as, having coffee or going to places by myself (it is not common in Italy doing these things by yourself) & saying goodbye to new friends. The fear of being alone again.
I try not to get close to new friends as I move and visit abroad frequently. I am moving back to Italy soon. People come and go, as anything in this life. Any experience is a journey with a start and an end.
Did you integrate and adjust smoothly? What went well and what was hard?
Yes I did. However it was hard at the beginning when people looked at you like a ‘poor expat’ and not everyone was nice. Once I start to communicate in Dutch, locals were giving me plenty of compliments and were welcoming. I never had any specific problem to adjust to the Dutch culture, but I still don’t understand the way the Dutch accept everything so easily. For example, I notice in daily life that Dutch people don’t take any position if they don’t agree or don’t like something, they just let it go. Or, when it’s raining and your son comes back totally wet because he did not cover himself enough: it is OK. It is cold and I get sick? It is OK. Someone argues with me? It is OK . I saw it a lot of times and I am just giving some examples. The point is that I will never share the Dutch way to face life-no sharpness at all! At the begin I loved this culture to be so chilled out but now I have changed my mind. This is of course my personal opinion based of my short experience here.
Where do you find inspiration from
I still don’t know exactly. The fact to wake up every day in this beautiful city and knowing how lucky I am. Me, myself and I are my source of inspiration.
What is your current job
I work in a leader company (EF-Education First) as a call center agent.
Was it different to start your job in a foreign country?
Not at all. As I studied in the tourism field and speak several languages finding a job was always quite easy. I have been unlucky because every new job I had something went wrong after a while and I had to look for another job again and again (it happened many times).
How do you stay motivated?
Treating myself as much as I can. Taking my time to enjoy the little things: take my time to have a walk at the park, enjoy a coffee in a new cafeteria, have a chat with a friend, look around me and feeling full of joy.
Useful tools and resources for expats you recommend?
Facebook groups, websites to meet and doing activities with other expats. Always visit the local expats center.
Any words of wisdom?
When I talk to my friends they are shocked how open and positive minded I became; I always been an old soul, pretty sharp edged, and a bit of a smart devil as a kid. Since I moved here I started to give advice about life in general and how to face things in Amsterdam. I have been through the same things (often a bit more problematic) I know how to respond to these things in order to live here without a lot of struggle.
‘Remember that everything in life is just an experience and it has to begin as it has an end, so let it all go, do your best..forget everything else and breath. As long as you are alive and your soul is in your body…everything will be alright.’
‘Be kind BUT don’t be a fool’
What is the worst thing that has happened to you as an expat?
Feeling like a prisoner in my ‘own’ home. Living in a really small place with people I didn’t choose. Feeling bounded once I am home. Not having a job or a house to go from one moment to the other. It is scary. Also meeting weird people too, or living with them. I have been twice in serious danger. I moved 11 times in 8 months.
What is a misunderstanding that happened to you as an expat?
When I had my work schedule reduced from 40 to 3 hours per week after a mistake I did.
Your plans for the future.
RELAX and MEDITATION. Eating good food and to stay near to my parents and my dog. Get a therapist and cure my insomnia. One day to find a good job in Italy.
Keep remembering the reason why you moved abroad. Think about it every time you want to give up.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country
- Remember that any country is awesome when you are on vacation; you have that sort of excitement we all know & you see only the pretty sides of anything. But living is totally different.
- Be open as much as you can & adaptable/ Do not judge, most of the things will be pretty different from what you are used to.
- Organize your money.
- Set a GOAL.
- BE STRONG. If you are not sure how strong you are….make the first step and get out of your comfort zone and you will getting stronger day by day.
- Enjoy as much as you can the surroundings, the society, the new people and the new things you will discover everyday.
Thank you very much!
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!