I do remember the moment when me and my husband decided to go abroad and try living in different country. We made the list of pro and con. The pro site looked incredibly encouragingly and the con was very short. Mostly we were concerned about language and living apart from our family, but none of us even thought about emotions which this change could bring…
I had already my experience in au-pair role in UK . I thought I made myself resistant to the waves of homesickness and nothing can surprise me.
Before I arrived to Netherlands , we were apart with my husband for 3 long months. It lasted forever. Me at home 24h/day, all the time by myself with small 7 months child. We were living in the Cracow at that time. Most of my friends and family was busy with their life and work. Fortunately Poland is this country , where when you go to the playground and you meet many other mothers. The spirit of motherhood is shared.
Finally the very big day has come. We arrived at Amsterdam airport. Everything looked so exiting. Yeaahh … here comes big adventure. Our plan to stay here for next 5 years seemed to be dream of our life. Look at all these people on bikes, look at these beautiful environment. Everywhere ducks, sheep and identical small cottage houses with a green colour in the background.
After few days the normal life started. My husband went to work and I stayed home with our 10 months son. And the darker site of living abroad with a small child showed up.
The biggest challenge and shock which I found in Hilversum was: In the working days from Monday till Friday , city looks like after Armageddon. There is no single soul, except few old people walking with their dogs.
This I didn’t expected. My idea was that it would be like in Poland. I would just go out for a walk with my son and meet other mothers on the playground. Here came a challenge , how to meet other mums then? The loneliness which appeared in my life is indescribable. I would kill for having a one good friend by me at that time (read my tips for expat mums).
Meanwhile I was looking for a job. With whole my optimism and big experience I knew that I will find a job. The market was good, in September lots of companies was looking for people, so why would I have problem to find a job? I created beautiful CV and every day was precisely answering job offers. The phone started ringing. Everyone was inviting me for an interview, recruitment processes were going well. And then few times when it came to agreement on conditions I was told: You have to start on junior position again because your experience doesn’t count in this country. WHAT? what do you mean it doesn’t count? Basically for whole 10 years in Poland I was doing the same thing, which they were hiring me for. It took me a while to find a job matching my experience.
The last challenge was cultural difference. I grow in the country where you don’t say to people all what you think. If you have nothing good to say to somebody, better don’t say anything. That was my motto.
In my first job, I could experience at the first time how is to be “directly spoken” to. Well , in the way dutch people explained it, it is the “directness”, “openness” of their culture. However, if you grown up in the place where people are naturally diplomatic in daily conversation, this can be a big challenge.
It took me a while to overcome these challenges. I was lucky to meet , so many open and helpful people during the past 5 years. Coaching helped me to open lots of doors in my soul and relationships. I can finally say I am complete as an expat, parent , woman and wife.
These challenges created a beautiful experience which let me help other women to overcome their difficult time.