Why relocating once means you can do it again anywhere
June 23rd, 2017
February 2014 – Touch down in Amsterdam late at night with a huge rucksack and one Humongous suitcase, people were giving me sympathetic stares in the airport as the rucksack was basically bigger than I was and I was dripping in sweat trying to drag a monstrosity of a suitcase. (eternally grateful for the random acts of kindness of people who helped me get them on and off the train).
I had packed up my life into these two cases – less than a month before I decided I was moving to a random city in the Netherlands to study – I submitted a rather last minute application for an LL.M. degree without ever really expecting or believing I would actually go. Alas it was actually happening, I had secured a cheap room on Facebook I booked a one-way flight all in the space of a few days. I had about 300 Euro to my name and every bone in my body was telling me that this was a bad idea, a very impulsive move which would fail and that I would be back in Northern Ireland within a month with my tail between my legs.
That first night I arrived in Maastricht station on a cold February night at midnight it looked like a ghost town, I knew not one single soul in the Netherlands. I checked Facebook to see where my new ’home’ was and asked a taxi to drive to this address…. arriving to this students’ house share (which I had committed to live in prior to ever seeing it) was one of those moments that will stay with me, one of the housemates helped me into this dark and dank room which didn’t even have a lightbulb, no furniture except a broken sofa bed which had seen better days. The smell of weed wafted through the house and the ‘wallpaper’ consisted of wall graffiti built up over the years from all the many tenants, the lampshade in the living room was made out of girls’ bras, it seemed to be a kind of ‘squat’ and appeared like it shouldn’t be legally rentable.
It is at these moments when your ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, natural instinct is to run away to admit that your plan for a new life abroad failed or to face your new challenge head on.
I can’t be more glad that I didn’t run back to comfort and easiness, the old adage ‘nothing worth having comes easy’ is true. Financing a Master’s degree abroad whilst working part-time in a fast-food restaurant in a country where you don’t speak the language to cover your tuition fees was definitely not the Instagram- worthy moments of my life. My co-blogger Dalila can vouch for this as we stood exhausted over the burger grills at 2 in the morning on a Saturday night in a city Centre McDonalds.
So no it’s not easy to start a new life anywhere with no friends, no family, no job – but once you look back on it years later those horrible days you endured are nothing but a technical detail that got you where you needed to be.
Since then I have changed country twice without so much as a flinch, and I’m pretty sure there is more to come.