As my time in Maastricht comes to an end, I have become super reflective. Top of the list is how much on the whole I have enjoyed my time working abroad in the Netherlands. A by product of all this thinking, is this post. If you’ve ever thought about working abroad but aren’t quite sure if it’s for you, here are 7 reasons why you should take the plunge.
A little background on my work abroad experience:
I ended up working abroad in the Netherlands, really by a complete fluke. After receiving the job offer, I debated hard about whether I should go or not. In all honesty, I was very much leaning towards the latter; I was scared about moving somewhere I didn’t know a living soul. Making friends was my main concern, but ultimately it was my crippling unemployment history and family that encouraged me to go for it, and so off I went in August 2016. Now looking back, almost two years later, I can very genuinely say that the experience exceeded all expectations.
And now on to the reasons!
In my case it was easier to get a job abroad than it was at home. Working abroad a strong job requirement could be something as natural as speaking. My team needed someone Native English language skills, and there I was with 23 years’ experience being and speaking English! Not something that means much on your CV in the UK, but abroad? That’s a huge selling point in some cases. If you have an additional language on top of that, you could very well be laughing mate.
Some of my friends at the moment are a bit bored of the lives at home. Thinking that seeing the same people, and going to same places is mundane. This may very well be the case. Moving abroad opened me up to literally a whole new country of places and things to explore. But not only that, it made me appreciate home that much more. So now I never consider my familiar friends or familiar places for granted. You’d laugh at how much I’ll be in Maastricht really wanting a can of Strongbow, or craving a trip to some dusty Wetherspoons.
That much needed characteristic. All experience is good experience, but international experiences I’ve found are even better. You know how on Instagram, your worth is almost summed up by how many places you’ve been? Work abroad experience is kind of like that for CV’s. I’ve worked abroad twice now, and at interviews, those are the things that are most questioned. No one really cares about my year long stint at a London Creative Agency, but they want to hear all about the 2 months I spent waitressing at Disney World. Funny huh?
Following on from the last point, I feel like you never grow up quite as fast as you do when you’re not at home. Working abroad for me has been like a second stint at university. I left for University at 18, pretty much uncertain of how to do anything but go to school and study. My cooking experience was very scarce, I was terrified to do laundry and ruin clothes, time management, don’t even get me started. After a brief scare at my first Christmas return scare when I has shrunken in size dramatically I pretty much made it through unscathed. You know aside from all the emotional trauma everyone undergoes but that’s a whole other post. Ultimately, I came out the other side 21, a few dishes under my belt and much developed as a person. Now I was a little woman.
Moving to the Netherlands has been a similar experience. I arrived at 23 with my little woman skills and some life experience, but now the playing field had changed dramatically. Now, not only did I needed to get trained in a new job, I also needed to find somewhere to live, find furniture for that place to live, set up a bank account, and hold down a 9 to 5. In a place where I didn’t know a living soul and didn’t speak the language. Goodness gracious that was an adjustment period. But also, a whole other post.
What I’m saying is…but as you’ll gain experience from life day by day and grow as a person, you’ll do so even more when you’re abroad and out of your comfort zone. Away from people who know and love you, you’ll find more solace and be more comfortable with yourself which in turn will help you to thrive. By no means do I now have all the answers, but I can safely say I’m more confident and self-assured than the little woman that moved here two years ago.
Sensible reasons like experience and opportunity aside guys, it’s really fun! When I first moved of course I was terrified about making friends. In general doing so has always been a concern of mine because I’m an Awkward Black Girl. But practically everyone felt the same way, so making friends was a relative breeze. Depending on where you work there might be perks of a relocation package including accommodation for a few weeks. In my case, it was six in a hotel! And my closest friend actually lived only a door down from me. It started off with just a trip to Lidl, but a year and a half later we’ve travelled to Germany, Italy and Denmark together with no intention of slowing down. Now she’s a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine it without her. Just think how many friends or future bae’s are out there in the world waiting for you that you haven’t found yet?
In conjunction with the last point, along with all the new friends and potential lovers you’re going to find, you’re also going to be immersed in a whole culture. Depending on where you go, this might not be too different from home, but still! For me, Maastricht was a perfect combination of away from home but not all that different. In general the country had all the comforts I could find at home, and pretty much everyone speaks English because they’re uber talented, so my language deficit wasn’t a huge setback in getting around. I now consider Maastricht my second home. So in taking a job abroad, I’ve gained a whole new home and family, not bad right?
We all like travelling right? Working abroad is an excellent way to kill two birds with one stone. Depending on where you go, you could be opening yourself up to a whole host of travel opportunities. Sure, I was pretty well connected at home in London, but chucking some pounds at a flight to head away for a weekend, was never really something that crossed my mind between the hustle and bustle of the weekly grind. Weekends to me were solely for recovering from the stress of the rat race.
Working abroad in the Netherlands has been a completely polarized experience, and given me a whole new mentality in this respect. In Maastricht there are several airports within an hour or two’s commute, with flights heading out in all directions at low low prices. Last year a friend and I went to Milan for 3 nights, flights and hotel with breakfast all in for €150! I couldn’t believe it. HolidayGuru is truly where it’s at.
Alongside this, when working abroad, wherever you are might actually be your dream destination! In which case, every day is a holiday. The Netherlands isn’t anywhere I’d ever dreamed of visiting, but now, when I’m out on my bicycle and that sun is setting over the sparkling Maas river I feel like the luckiest girl ever to live somewhere so beautiful. Somewhere that had never ever been on my radar. I’m awed when I imagine what other everyday extraordinary wonders could be waiting out there for me in places I never even thought to look.
In closing, there’s a big wide world out there, and it really is yours for the taking. I know it sounds cliché, but just because it kind of is one, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Everyone’s just having a go at this grand old thing called life, and I think that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my time here. It’s okay not to know exactly what you’re doing all the time, as long as you’re enjoying yourself along the way, that’s all that matters. Just because you’ve started going in one direction, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your destination altogether, or do a U-turn and head right back where you came from.
If you have any questions about my journey, don’t hesitate to ask down below! Taking the leap may not be as bad as you think!