When we are going through significant changes or periods in our lives, it tends to feel like we are alone on an island. It’s as if the blinkers come up and our brain keeps telling us no one could or would understand how we feel. It blocks out the notion to lean on a friend, confide in your family or cast your net afar to find new like-minded friends who are in the same situation.
Maybe it’s self preservation, because we are vulnerable and the thought of opening up but getting shot down is traumatic in itself. Maybe it’s because we are just so overwhelmed that the idea of finding new friends in the same situation is exhausting to us. Or maybe it’s the fear of your current deepest fear being realised – that you are alone on an island no one can or will understand you.
Well, thank goodness the old saying is true – NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. It took me some time, but through friends and their friends I have found that there is a support network waiting for you when you are ready. This is reflected in the two question and answer pieces below. I hope that anyone who is thinking of doing the expat move or is just getting started can find the below insights helpful.
Have a read below – again, I laughed out loud, nodded my head in agreement and thankful to know these fabulous ladies!!
Expat no. 3 is the lovely Debbie. We became friends through our husbands who were close friends from their young and single days. Debbie and I had our first little divas 6 months apart and it really is like being mothers to same girls. Both of them have daily outfit changes, love to perform to anyone that listens and have all the traits of their fabulous mothers!!! She is also a blogging girl, her honesty and relate-ability shines through on her blog The good, the bad and everything in betweenDeb is a great arts and craft girl with a love of good tv, wine and dancing!! We have become close since her move to Sweden about a year and a half after us. The first night her brood came to stay with us for the weekend – the men went out and we stayed in with the kids. They came home tiptoeing through the door not to wake us… but instead found us busting out serious moves to some old skool tunes – “Backstreets Back”!! I think the thing that resonates most with reading through Debbie’s answers is how it can be lonely making the move to a country where you don’t speak the native tongue even though you are with family. She was the one who inspired me with connecting with other expats.
- Moved from – Bournemouth, England to Helsingborg, Sweden.
- Occupation – Maternity leave, former support worker
- Why did you relocate?
To be closer to family and Sweden is known to be better for raising children.
- What was the biggest challenge at the beginning of the move. – Not being able to pop over to my friends house for a glass (bottle ) of wine, have a vent and a cry when it had been a hard day. They were always on the other end of the phone but it was different.
- Two things you love about your Sweden? –The childcare is so much more affordable here and the schools are so child focussed. I love that the children are outside a lot, whether it’s snowing, raining or sun.
- One thing you miss from your birth country. – The food!! There’s only so many meatballs, hotdogs and fish you can eat 🤣
- Do you call Sweden home? – Not quite yet, but it’s only been a year so far.
- What’s the biggest misconception (general/personal) of becoming an expat? – That you pick up your life and continue it in another country. You don’t, you have to build a whole new life. It’s not only a new house but new friends, a new corner shop you go to get milk, new meals because you can’t find the same ingredients. A new local park to take the kids, a new you because you have a chance to start fresh. Although it’s exciting it’s also terrifying to be out of your comfort zone.
- Fav Swedish – pastime, indulgence, tv programme – Kladdkaka
- One Swedish quirk you can say never too. (I will never ………
Never, ever, ever eat eggs and fish for Christmas dinner. Pigs in blankets always 🤣
- Best advice you was given to you once you had moved? – To be patient. Everything in Sweden moves so slowly and it’s something I found myself coming across on a daily basis and coming from such a fast paced country, it was hard to adjust to.
- One bit of advice you would give to a new expat. – Reach out and meet people. Join local facebook pages to get advice and ask question. Relocating your family is very hard and can become very lonely, make sure you reach out to find local friends you can meet with and talk to. If it wasn’t for the friends I have made here, I would of given up and moved back already.
I was lucky enough to meet this new yummy mummy several years ago through her sister. Lauranza not only has one of the most beautiful names I have come across but has one of the best laughs too, after a few beers it’s even better!! Another media girl from the land of UK digital who’s a little bit hippy in her own words. She found her spiritual path and allowed it to take her to many inspiring places such as Thailand, India, South Africa to name a few. She is also a Blogging Mama focusing on natural living for new mummies on a maternity leave budget. I was excited at the chance to get her perspective on the expat move, as she did it during one of the most life changing times for a couple. Lauranza I tip my hat to you girl!!! It sounds like you Lola (the cat) needs some extra treats and maybe an escape hatch that she can use from time to time.
- Moved from to London/Essex to Amsterdam.
- Occupation – Digital Project Manager and Yoga Teacher
- Why did you relocate? – I’ve wanted to move to Amsterdam for so long as my sister lives here and my mum and brother also live in Holland, but it was never the right time. After I fell pregnant last year I knew there would be nowhere else I’d want to have my baby than Amsterdam.
- What was the biggest challenge at the beginning of the move? – Well, moving over whilst 7 months pregnant 🙂 but we took it all in our stride. The Netherlands is a great place to have a baby and there is a great support system for expats. We didn’t have any problems getting maternity care, and I actually had my first midwife appointment only 3 days after moving over. For us the biggest challenge was converting our cat Lola to a house cat haha, I still feel like she hates me for imprisoning her in our second floor apartment.
- Two things you love about your Amsterdam? – I love that I can walk for 15 minutes from my home and be in the centre of the city and also that i have everything on my doorstep, including a three minute walk to an amazing yoga studio.
- One thing you miss from your birth country. – I miss my boyfriend Ed’s family, they all came to visit a few weeks ago and it was so sad when they left, however it will make it all the more special when we see them now, either in the UK or over here. I also miss the NHS, we pay so much for medical insurance here… However the care is absolutely amazing, so worth it, especially with a new baby!
- Do you call Amsterdam home? – Yep for sure.
- What’s the biggest misconception (general/personally) of becoming an expat?
Thats its really hard to do. To be honest it was just as easy for us to move to Amsterdam as it was to move to Essex. Everyone speaks English and the whole place is set up for Expats. Within a week we had a social security number, a bank account and I was registered with a midwife.
- Fav Dutch – pastime, indulgence, tv programme? – hmmm, can i have a food? if so Hagelslag – chocolate sprinkles that you have on toast for breakfast. Anywhere where it’s the norm to have chocolate for breakfast is good for me.
- One Dutch quirk you can say never too. (I will never ………
Eat a meat kroketten (croquette) out of a vending machine! I don’t eat meat so its easy for me but, seriously, yes, they have krokette’s in vending machines here, and people go mad for them!
- Best advice you was given to you once you had moved. – My sister recommended joining an Amsterdam Mamas Facebook group for sprint summer 2017 babies. Being a brand new mum in a new city and not knowing many people is daunting, I joined this Facebook group and now go to regular meet ups, I’ve met some new friends and its great to meet up with other new mums who have babies of a similar age.
- One bit of advice you would give to a new expat.
I guess it would just be to love every minute of your move and new city, its a great opportunity to be able to move abroad and you can get weighed down with the logistics of it, but once your there its an amazing experience.