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Welcome to the Netherlands: Psychology tips for newcomers

10/27/2013 Mariza Thanopoulou Psychology

Whatever your reason for moving to the Netherlands, there was a moment when you decided to overcome your doubts, change your life and become a cell of the Dutch society. Taking this step, whether or not you feel excited about it, means that you have some hopes and expectations.

In the beginning, you see, as most people do, this life change with the eyes of a tourist. This means you are eager to explore this new place and you are curious about the dutch way of life. You may feel relieved to find out almost everybody speaks English and think that life here may not be as hard as you have imagined. And it is true, Netherlands offers an exciting multicultural environment after all, with many opportunities and resources for expats. However, after a while your daily life starts to find its routine and you become familiar with the W's (who, what, when & where). You realize that it takes time to adjust, to develop new habits, and build new friendships. Of course the key question is: Are you willing to adjust? Big part of this process depends on your flexibility, your own attitude. If you plan to live in the Netherlands for a long period, it is useful to make a plan for things to arrange, learn, or change in order to make the adjustment process easier. For example, you may want to join expat clubs, start language lessons, or become member of professional associations.

Depending on your country of origin, you may experience some uneasiness with the dutch culture. Don't take for granted that people in the Netherlands communicate or interact the same way as do people in your country. Although Netherlands is an expat friendly country and Dutch people are polite and helpful, sometimes they can also be, according to some expats, unexpectedly direct. To avoid moments of frustration, keep an open mind, try to accept the differences, and don't take things personally. Don't try to guess or interpret what others think or expect from you, share your thoughts and feelings with the people in your work or social environment. Be practical to make this life transition as smooth as possible.

Unfortunately, there will still be some low moments. Be prepared to accept them. Missing your home country, your family and friends, what you did or who you used be, is all part of the transition. To overcome loneliness, you need to remind yourself to be positive and creative. Think ahead of things you would like to see and do while in this country, activities you enjoy, and make a list. Then refer to this list from time to time, and choose something amusing and fulfilling. Take advantage of all the pleasant and interesting aspects of the Netherlands.

Focus on the positive possibilities, there are always more than we realize.

Mariza Thanopoulou