So I’ve been staying in The Netherlands (my passport country) for the past three years now, and even now I still find it hard to explain to people what my life was like before living here and why I do not identify as a ‘Dutch’ person. I speak the language, according to my passport I’m Dutch, and considering my whiteley blonde hair, fair skin and one green one blue eye I even look like a stereotypical european girl.
I started this blog three years ago to document my process of being a Dutch girl practically never having lived in The Netherlands all of a sudden moving there, studying, living, trying to make friends, and just trying to build a life. Writing this blog really helped me to process what I was going through and help me through that period. It was never easy coming here and there were a lot of ups and downs but it has given me a lot of experience and opportunity to learn many things.
Just like to every other country I had moved to in the past I had to start completely over. The one thing that was different is: this is supposed to be home… I think because on the outside people can’t tell that you’re different they assumed many things about me when I moved here. Countless times only when I started speaking that they looked at me strangely asking, ‘you’re not from here are you?’. My friends were (are) great, they did (do) their best to understand who I was and what I was going through. It was strange trying to settle in a country that many couldn’t understand didn’t feel like home.
Looking back it was quite an odd time, and sometimes I wonder how I got through it. Most of the time I was on autopilot trying not to think about everything that I was missing and what felt like my world was falling apart at that moment. Finding people that understood what I was thinking and feeling was difficult but after about a year I found my place.
The top things that got me through that first year was making sure I didn’t isolate myself, trying to find a job and school so I had a reason to get out of the house, staying open about what was going on in my head to my family and close friends, keeping the house cleaned up. It was easy at first for me to isolate myself because I only had school a few times a week and my work was two evenings per week. The more I isolated the more difficult it became to go to social events. Staying in the flow of going places helped me to settle more and experience this country in a positive way. Staying open with my friends and family was difficult at times, but they knew what I was going through and I didn’t always have to talk for them to know what I was thinking or feeling. I could always swing by and they’d be there for me. Whether we would just study together, cook, or hang out those moments were pillars to my growth. Lastly it really helped to keep the house cleaned up. I realised that when my surroundings are messy so is my head, and to experience peace I need things around me to be peaceful and decluttered. Even to this day I notice my mental state declining when I let my room become a mess. Even if I have the most horrid day, at least I come home to a clean house.
Three years later this still doesn’t feel entirely like home, I don’t think any place will be as much of a home as Singapore was. I realised that I don’t need something to live up to Singapore, I just had to find a place for everything in my head and be content with where I was at. I know I’m still going to be here for a while at least to finish my degrees. It may not be my favourite place on earth but I’m happy with what I am doing and where I am going right now. For now that is enough for me.