Reflection

Reflection

Since the end of my academic year and the beginning of this ‘blogging era,’ I have shared with you my preparations for moving to Stockholm. You also went on holiday with me and saw what I have been up to in general during summer. In contrast to all this, the past two weeks have been remarkably quiet. Hence, I had some time to think things over a bit. As expertise comes with both experience and reflection, I find myself in the perfect position to preach my, eh, ‘wisdom’ and give you three top tips if you are thinking about moving abroad. Tips which I needed to learn the hard way ;-)

Thou shalt start in time

Despite its seeming simplicity, the first one is already a bit tricky. Like the majority of students (hopefully), my brain tends to function a bit oddly. Especially the way it prioritises certain matters above others is rather deceptive. For one thing, I have been browsing the web far too long for irrelevant things. Watch out, Google Maps and Google Street View are not your friends here. It helped me for instance discover that there should be a beach (!!! See top-image Lappis Beach!) about 500 metres from where I will live. Certainly, this is a good thing to be aware of, but it also distracted me from more important matters such as responding to emails of my bank or the Dutch Government.

Thou shalt plan ahead

Starting in time alone will not automatically result in victory. You should also make plans as to what should when be done. In other words: deadlines! Are you making a three-week long road trip in the months prior to departure? Make sure to get the most necessary things organised before you go. Matters deserving absolute priority include application, accommodation, travel documents, and financial matters such as grants and insurances. Alternative things such as packing your suitcase, buying items you will need abroad or – I’ll admit it – virtually wandering through the city you will be moving to can be done later. Also keep in mind that it may take a while until you can expect replies on emails. Creating a checklist including all major deadlines might be a good idea.

I mean it! Paper administration is not fun!

I mean it! Paper administration is not fun!

Thou shalt understand culture

This step is optional, but highly recommended: try to accustom yourself a bit to the culture of the country you are moving to! Start learning the lingua franca so you can make yourself understood. Of course, you do not need to be an expert before you make ‘the big move.’ Languages, for instance, you will mostly pick up whilst living there, but it may be wise to already master some key words and sentences. Yet, culture does not comprise language alone. Charlotte, one of my Swedish friends who also lives in Stockholm, bought me a present when she was visiting the Netherlands:

If this is to represent a Swedish summer, I should brace myself for winter…

If this is to represent a Swedish summer, I should brace myself for winter…

This Handbook for Swedes discusses commonalities and ‘typical’ Swedish customs. Reading through it made me feel amazed and even laugh out loud a couple of times. A regular travel guide may also stir your wanderlust a bit. I am also slowly starting to think about what to pack; the tips of fellow-blogger Denise came in handy here. Thanks Denise! ;-)

I cannot believe it is almost time to bid the Dutch landscape farewell already. Enjoy the last weeks of summer and see you on the other side!

Netherlandsbyebye