Expat – The word Was familiar to me only as a part of Human Resource concept because I did my MBA in Human Resources. Other than that I never knew or felt or even spoke to people about Expat Life, Until…. I experienced /experiencing.
I must admit, I have travelled a lot as Appa (my father) had a transferrable job. And honestly, I loved moving from city – to – city. Making new friends, meeting new teachers, school was all a part of my growing up. Even as I pursued my higher education, I was away from my parents (not very likely, then in India, my country), but still enjoyed being away to an extent because I had lot of friends around and yes Hostel Life was AMAZING. And every 6 months, we had vacation and we visited our parents. Yaaaaaay!
And now, after my marriage, when my husband spoke to me about the opportunity he has got in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and wanted to know if I would like to relocate, the bubbly, enthusiastic girl in me eagerly agreed, not knowing the challenges I would face. Had to resign from the job I had always dreamt of. Had to leave behind my parents and family, whom I can now only visit once a year(probably). My friends, who were so close, so dear and so connected. Did I think it is just like my city -to- city travel?
And Life Changed. Landed in Netherlands. Snow clad roads, trees. Exciting. Happy! But, trust me, the Happiness did not even last for few hours. I started missing everything back home. Started missing my people, my food. Everything here was so different. Different language (no clue what was written), supermarket looked so difficult. Indian supermarkets were so much fun. I did not know what to do. Expressing my sorrow to my husband would have made him feel bad and would have discouraged him. I kept mum. Gave him strength. But yes, I admit I was LONELY.
No people to talk, No job, Language Barrier, Cultural differences.. All these came hitting me from my HR textbooks. I was experiencing them. Everywhere I went, they wanted me to KNOW Dutch. All 7 languages that I knew back in my country, are they of no use. Now Dutch. Is not English enough.. These questions haunted me day and night. I started knowing what was
frustration, irritation and depression. God’s grace that I did not give in to these. Yes, my travel from city-to-city, did come in use. The art of making friends, talking to people, helped me. Yes, I did not know the language, but English did come handy. I tried. Did not give up. Made friends. Did find Indian stores and cooked South Indian food in North of Rotterdam. I am learning Dutch. And when people ask me Do you speak Dutch, I confidently reply, Ik kan praat, maar niet heel goed. They appreciate and encourage me to talk better. It’s LOVELY. And now I am loving my stay. I like saying alstublieft and Dankjewel all the time. Becoming Dutch 😉
It was all within me and I had to fight it. It was not impossible but yes, I needed that courage. Overcoming your fear is your biggest strength. And even today, I am still an expat with challenges but yes, I love meeting my challenges and do overcome them, not always though. But I LEARN.
Expat life is Indeed Exciting.
By Priya Nikhil Arakkal