Three things make up my personal package of “how to” –
1 – SURRENDER to a giant leap of FAITH
2 – CHOOSE to be happy BEFORE departure
3 – Embrace the ADVENTURE in EVERY detail.
Taking the plunge to change countries, continents, hemispheres, cultures, language and lifestyle in one’s 50’s is an adventure on steroids!
Leaving one’s home IS overwhelming, despite any circumstances and by surrendering the need to control every tiny detail is the first step to the beginning of the enjoyment of the new chapter: some things will work out as planned and imagined and some things will work out differently to the plan and the dream; ALL are part of the adventure!
My reading material recommendations for moving to The Kingdom of The Netherlands:
“The UnDutchables” by Colin White & Laurie Boucke
“Why the Dutch are different” – by Ben Coats
And then to move on to the quaint little book “You know you’re Dutch when…” by Colleen Geske.
Most people would recommend an adventure of this magnitude be undertaken in one’s younger years when still equipped with loads of energy, confidence and a good deal of naivety.
As we grow older we become more cynical, more static, less elastic and a lot more comfortable with our familiarity and routines and for me, that was the EXACT reason for embarking on this adventure! I have a secret dread of becoming a boring old grandparent one day so I’ve begun trying to break that mold before it sets too hard….!
Moving abroad with a young family comes with it’s own set of challenges but it does also guarantee one an immediate circle to belong to: school.
This tends to become the mother’s saving grace because usually the father goes off to the office where they are a part of a new group of familiarity, unless of course it is the other way around and the move was made due to the mother having a job offer in the new country. Here in NL, the gender divide is zero which is rather refreshing after a seriously patriarchal society in SA.
As with children the world over, they go to school, the routine is established and faces become familiar at the school gates, they make friends and so the parents do too.
In the latter stages of life, children and school are no longer the default buttons for socializing and gaining a new circle of friends which for some makes this a trying and often lonely ordeal. Thankfully in our case, hockey has always been our default button and no less than on this adventure where we arrived and were immediately welcomed into the family at the club where Darling was contracted to coach.
Historical ties between South Africa and The Netherlands go a long way to helping with the familiarity of language and some aspects of culture however, it is in the nuances of daily life that the southern hemisphere and northern hemispheres are markedly different.
MANY offences, slights and insults may be perceived and prejudices established which is why I tend to live with the proviso that I will like everyone and everyone will like me, until that is proven otherwise!
When faced with the somewhat scary tasks of daily life in a new country, it is easy to become downhearted, overwhelmed and irrationally emotional. Without having read “The UnDutchables” I may well have taken offence over a whole lot of nothing from the get-go, which is why it is a HIGHLY recommended to read before arrival here in the lovely flatlands of the “Cloggies” (to coin the phrase used by the author!) As a result, I have found our new countrymen to be delightfully charming in a direct and almost olde-worldly way, leaving me thoroughly enchanted!