You might be excited or anxious when you leave your country. These feelings come from your thoughts about the new culture, new language, new weather, new food etc. that are waiting for you.
Before you arrive, you can never imagine what life is really like there. You might get a lot of advice or information from your friends or on the Internet. But, you may also come to realize that not all that information is right to you and your situation.
It has been over a year and a half since I came to the Netherlands. I didn’t really have any purpose at that time. I didn’t have many expectations either because I thought to myself “The more you expect, the more you will be disappointed”. If survival can be a purpose, then I would say that is the one I pursued.
At the beginning, I had to find a house to live in. It was quite difficult to find a house which matched my expectations. But finally, I found one. However, a few months later, the electricity and gas were cut off due to a mistake made by the utility company. I had to stay at a hotel without any compensation and what’s more, when they reconnected the electricity and gas, they charged me for the reconnection. I couldn’t do anything but pay for it because I didn’t want the electricity and gas to be cut off again.
Going through this kind of experience made my life in the Netherlands become a bit gloomy. And the Dutch weather only made me feel more depressed.
Finding the Bright Side
If you only read up to here, you might think I have a negative view of this country. But I don’t know yet, I still turn corners and stumble across things I didn’t expect.
Luckily, one of my strengths is being able to find meaningful and joyful activities even when I am having a hard time. For me, these are cycling and feeding the birds. The air in the Netherlands is so clean and fresh, and the infrastructure for cycling is great. My country, on the other hand, has a poor environment for cycling. Cycling regularly makes me feel refreshed and I get to see many different kinds of bird.
I purposely leave some bread aside after eating and go to the canals to feed the birds. This has become my happy routine. If feeding the birds is prohibited, I hope someone will let me know before I get a fine.
As my last piece of advice, I would like to say to anyone coming to the Netherlands - “Learn how to ride a bicycle and be ready to make new (bird) friends”.
Jee Hoon Lee, Kickstart Student