I remember when my partner got a job here in the Netherlands and the thought of starting a new life here emerged for the first time. Of course, my closest family was worried and sad about me moving and also some of my friends too.
But most people said things like ‘Oh cool! That’s so awesome just don’t be stoned all the time, haha!’ or ‘That is so exciting! You can meet new people and anyway a new atmosphere never harmed anyone, it will do good for you!’. This last one was the same exact advice I gave to a friend a couple of years ago when she was about to move abroad for the same reason I did: love.
I didn’t quite understand why this whole idea of living in a new country is so hard on her. I didn’t judge but I didn’t know how it felt until I was walking in her shoes. Leaving my home, giving up the perfect apartment and feeling like I’m leaving everything behind made me feel miserable. I didn’t even realize how truly hard it was to make this step up until I arrived here. We rented an empty apartment so the first two weeks were all about furnishing our space, building a new home from scratch, which is fun and exciting. We got our furniture from Facebook groups, IKEA and we went to Cruquiusplein: www.boulevardcruquius.nl/winkels.php
All I felt was sheer excitement and happiness and I was looking forward to what the future has to hold. And then I fell from cloud 9. I hit the bottom hard and fast, from one day to another. Yes, I admit that I do have anxiety issues and I know that the fact that I am working from home does not help the feeling of being alone and being small. Somehow when the pink clouds faded away and I was left in the apartment with a lot of work alone day after day I started to sink in self-sorrow and I felt very lonely. It felt like I wasn’t who I was before, I felt so terrible sometimes I even cried. Then it hit me. Everything that I was feeling was ok. It took all this time for my emotions of grief to arrive. It took so much time I didn’t even realize why I felt the way I did at first. I missed home. It killed me to know that I won’t go back to my beloved rented apartment because now someone else lives in it. After work, I can’t call my best friend to meet me at the beer garden to grab some drinks and talk about our day. I receive all the Facebook event requests which all have to mark with ‘I can’t attend’. I am not there anymore and this hurts. But here is the thing. When I allowed myself to finally accept my current situation I realized that I am surrounded by beauty. Not just architectural but human beauty as well. I started to meet new people all of them are great people. They make these bad feelings go away with their kindness and acceptance. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore but excited again.
I started to enjoy all the little things about Haarlem. How the whole town turns into an Italian piazza in the evening with all the restaurants and ice cream places. The romantic narrow little streets with flowers and plants and tiny public libraries. I love that I can walk around without paying attention to where do I go because I am comfortable and I always find my way home. Every day I explore something new, Haarlem always shows a little bit more. She is a perky lady and she reveals all of her secrets slowly as you get to know her. I love how there are people to talk to and everyone I have met seemed to listen and care and help if it was needed. I also ate some homemade Stamppot that changed my opinion about Dutch cuisine once and for all because it was delicious. I am still a bit scared and unsure sometimes but Haarlem is the best place I could have gone to experience all of this. With the good and bad. As soon as the grief for the old life goes away (and I suppose we all grieve a little bit when we leave something behind, even if only for a while) than amazing new and fresh things will start to happen. We have to go out there and let it happen to us and find people that can help us to have that exciting new life everybody wished us for before we left home.
To move to another place is not easy and it shouldn’t be. I had to learn to accept and embrace my feelings so I can let them go and give space to amazing new things! My advice for everyone who goes through this: it will get better a lot better and the world will soon become a much bigger place!
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