The stress of being an expat in Amsterdam…

If it isn’t working out the way you had planned it…

For many years young and talented people have been leaving their beloved country to seek opportunities in the Netherlands. Especially in Amsterdam, a large expat community has formed and it’s growing every day.

But what many of these adventurous and bright people have in common is that upon arrival in this tiny and overcrowded country, the job opportunities they aimed at are far from abundant or in the worst case, basically non-existent. Let alone the housing opportunities in Amsterdam. So how to deal with the knowledge of having all the right papers and skills but all you can find is an underpaid seasonal job at a souvenir shop on Damrak and a dark 8m2 room smelling of mold? What a disillusion! For many who arrive at this point, now is an excellent time for high stress levels to kick in. How to deal with the stress of not getting what you want?

What you tell yourself doesn’t say anything about you

It wasn’t supposed to go like this…but it did. Your expectations were not met (yet) and that can be really disappointing.  Of course when the external factors (your –tiny and temporary- house, your –temporary and under skilled- job) don’t even get near to your imagination of how it ‘should have been’, this will trigger internal insecurities. You might start to doubt and judge yourself and tell yourself you’ve made the wrong decisions, you don’t have the right skills after all, you’ll never get what you want… Very understandable. But honestly, it will not be very helpful and you’ll probably feel worse. This is an opportunity to learn that what you have or do, doesn’t say anything about the value of who you are as a human being.

Give yourself some support

You’ve left your country and came to a new place that you probably didn’t know much about. (Especially not that you needed to have an actual address to be registered at and a BSN-number)  😉   Take some time right now to think of a few courageous things you did to get where you are….

I’m sure you can name a few things! You’ve made the first big steps and well, it seems you stepped in some mud after that. It’s not the end of the world! If you feel you need support to get you through this, it’s always good to get a network going. Get connected to other expats in the city and ask them for advice and tips on jobs and housing.  Sometimes more stuff comes to the surface when you’re facing a difficult situation. Old emotions, tensions, bad habits or thinking patterns bubble up. In that case you can find support in some psychological counselling or mindfulness.

Wait and see..and the stress will pass!

Sometimes what seems like it’s the worst place to be can turn out to be the best place or at least the right place for you. A story from Werner Herzog’s documentary “into the inferno” illustrates that perfectly. A man was put in the isolation cell in prison due to a lack of normal cells. The worst place to be. Until the local giant volcano erupted and left everyone dead, except for the one man in isolation! His cell was so well protected that he was the only one to survive.  What I mean by telling you this story, is to wait and see and to trust life a little. Sometimes life puts you in a certain situation and if you’ve done everything you could to get what you wanted, but still this situation is what you got, take a moment to breathe in where you are. Who knows which story may unfold from here..

“Life is so much wiser and kinder than your mind imagines.. trust and be still” ~Mooji