This post was first published in iamgreek.nl
During the last days a childhood friend from Greece moved temporarily at my place in Rotterdam. Actually he may moved temporarily at my place but he is willing to move permanently in the Netherlands. The first step for him was to find a job here and as it seems he will have one soon. Then he will look for an apartment. Tricky but doable if you are single and flexible and you are willing to travel a bit every morning and evening. So far so good, huh? Well, yes but what I was trying to tell him the last days that I feel a mother of a new expat (since I am the “old generation” expat) is that a job and a house is not the exclusive recipe of a happy expat life. It’s just the very early beginning of a life in a foreign country.
So, here I am to write some piece of advice for all those who made the first step, they moved and they are about to get settled and maybe they are wondering “Now what?”. Let me see if I can make it more clear to you.
1. First things first
Get registered to the local municipality, get a health insurance and a local telephone number. The first two things are necessary if you want to live legally in a foreign country – especially in the Netherlands – and the third one is just stupid if you don’t do it. Don’t overuse your old foreign sim card, it will just cost you a fortune!
2. Start looking for language courses as soon as possible (There are some free language courses given by volunteers).
Even if you don’t need to speak the local language to do your job, you should eventually learn the language of the country you moved. Socializing is only one of the many reasons you have to do it.
3. Try to find a national community of the country you are originally from.
It’s good to know that far from home there are some people you could meet to socialize, ask for help or enjoy some common cultural events.
4. Try to find expat groups and activities for expats.
Until you find out how the locals live some company with other expats will help you feel better and that you are not alone and the only one in a foreign environment. In addition, expats will be more ready to answer questions that you have and probably locals won’t know how to respond to them. Applications like “Meet up” could be helpful.
5. Start cooking! Even if you haven’t done it before, even if you hate it.
Just do it! Of course there are restaurants and fast-food places to grab a sandwich or some pizza but you already know that there is nothing like home-made food, right? So, start with some easy recipes of the local or international cuisines (I can suggest Greek cuisine for sure!) and don’t be afraid. Many people have been in your place before, you can definitely do it!
6. Know all the cheap markets and stores to buy food, clothes and all the other necessary stuff.
Even if you have some specific amount of money to spend at the beginning remember that you should spend them in a smart way! You can find the same item in many different prices in different stores of the neighborhood. Ask and make some search!
7. Learn as many things as you can regarding the local public transportation.
About ticket prices, daily tickets or a card (like OV-chipkaart) that you can use to travel in a cheaper way.
8. Download applications like 9292.nl to your mobile phone
Find easily how to travel from one place to another or to get informed about delays or transportation stops. Also applications like Buienalarm.nl are useful if you want to check the weather changes regularly.
Any other ideas by old expats to new expats? Feel free to leave your comments!
Until next time, take care!
The photo was taken from iamgreeknl’s good friend & photo-ninja Thrasos Panou.