Personal Story by Iva Stoykova
My first experiences in the Netherlands
I study Environmental Science for Sustainable Energy and Technology at Avans University of Applied Sciences in the lovely city of Breda. I really wanted to help the environment and animals, and this seemed like one of the best programs for me. So, this is how I ended up in the Netherlands.
I had never really heard much about the Netherlands before I started looking into possible studies. It was just a nice tiny country with a lot of tulips and weed. Little did I know that it would help me so much with my dreams and introduce me to a great number of amazing people.
When I arrived in the Netherlands for the first time, I had two huge suitcases and not enough strength to carry them. That turned out to be my very first mistake. Thankfully, people were so kind and helpful, so I had someone to help me get them on the bus and train. However, the weather was not as nice as the people. My first few days here were quite rainy and gloomy, which was not to my liking, but it was expected. Luckily, the Netherlands is not what people think it is. The rain stopped and the sunshine showed me how beautiful the country is.
We had a class on intercultural communication and my lecturer would always talk about the culture shock of moving to another country. At first, I thought he was wrong – not everyone experiences that. Wrong. I love living in different places and meeting new people, which is why it was never a problem for me when I changed schools or cities. Moving to the Netherlands was not an exception. I started feeling at home after about two weeks and I loved Breda. However, 3-4 months later, right before Christmas, I started to feel what my lecturer was talking about. I still loved my friends, roommates and the city, but I missed the things I had left behind. Coming back home for Christmas felt so good and I was so happy, but 4 days was literally how long it took me to say, “I want to go back to the Netherlands”.
As I already mentioned, pack lightly. Have your family send you the rest of your belongings, because it won’t cost you more, but it will definitely make your trip easier. Try to integrate with people on the first days, because that is when it’s easiest to make friends. Don’t be afraid to miss your family, friends and pets. It’s a natural response to moving abroad. Simply remind yourself why you did it and how beneficial it is for you to get out of your comfort zone.