Packing up our lives was exciting, leaving Zimbabwe and our parents was sad, getting to our connections on time was easy. Setting up our lives in the Netherlands – slightly more difficult than we had imagined.
In three days we manged to:
- Walk 50km around Utrecht;
- Miss our bus stop three times;
- Get lost several times;
- Get travel cards;
- Lose €20 each off said cards because we didn’t know how to use them;
- Live off ham and cheese sandwiches (mostly due to a lack of effort but also dutch labels);
- Trudge through the rain;
- Wonder why we ever left Africa.
When you move to another country, it can be incredibly alienating. While it is an exciting new adventure, it is also a foreign place where everyone else knows the unspoken rules – such as, why the buses have numbers on them, where those buses go, how to upload your train card and that some tills do not accept cash but say “PIN ALLEN” which means no paper money, only card! We felt like imposters or like fish trying to swim on hot desert sand – it could only get better.
We persevered, walked some more, made some friends and after the fourth day, we had dutch bank accounts, beds, some proper food and this beautiful sunset from our window. Who was it that said, if at first you don’t succeed try try again?
So, to make your lives easier, here are our tips for getting through your first 4 days:
- Download 9292 – that will help you learn about the bus numbers that are important to you.
- Buy a bicycle (and a bike lock) as soon as possible!
- Download Google Maps.
- Don’t forget to check in and out of every bus you get on.
- Purchase a water proof jacket.
- Download Google Translate.
- Don’t give up, the Netherlands has so much to offer.