Moving to a new country is a life-changing experience filled with excitement, adventure, and self-discovery. However, it can also be a daunting and challenging process as you navigate the unfamiliar terrain of a new culture and environment. One of the most crucial aspects of adjusting to expat life in the Netherlands is building a strong support network. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of creating a support network, and provide practical tips to help you build meaningful relationships as an expat in the Netherlands.
The Importance of a Support Network
As humans, we cannot stay alive as babies without human connection. We need to be fed, to be cared for and we need human touch to have a healthy development. This necessity does not change in adulthood. We need to be in touch with people, we need to share good news and celebrate. We need to share the burden of bad news. Even though sometimes we cannot find solutions, it makes us feel better to have people around us. That is why we need a support network.
A support network is a circle of friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances who provide emotional, social, and practical assistance during your expat journey. Building a strong support network helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness, homesickness, and stress that often accompany the process of adjusting to a new environment. Unfamiliar surroundings and cultural differences can leave you feeling isolated and overwhelmed. That is why it is crucial to create connections and establish a sense of belonging.
How to Build a Support Network as an Expat in the Netherlands
- Connect with Fellow Expats
Join expat groups, online forums, or attend social events specifically organized for expats. These gatherings provide opportunities to meet new people, share experiences, and develop friendships. Also, it may make you feel better to dance the night away to the music from your home country.
- Engage with Locals
Attend local events, participate in community activities, or join a Dutch language exchange group. These activities offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and forge connections with Dutch residents.
- Maintain Relationships with Loved Ones Back Home
Schedule weekly video calls with your loved ones to share updates, discuss your experiences, and maintain a sense of connection with your home country. Gossip with your best friends about your ex, video call your mother while trying but failing to make your favorite meal.
- Develop New Hobbies and Interests
Join a local sports team, take up a creative class, or participate in a volunteer project. These activities provide opportunities to meet new people who share your interests and foster supportive relationships. What can be better than chatting with people with the same interests as you? You can share the notes to your favorite songs, or you can hike together with your fellow sportive friends.
- Be Open and Proactive
Make the first move to initiate conversations with people around you, invite your colleagues for a cup of coffee, or organize a get-together with your neighbors. Be open to different cultures, viewpoints, and experiences, as they enrich your understanding and perspective.
- Utilize Digital Platforms
Social media groups of expats and internationals in the Netherlands offer an online platform to connect, share experiences, and seek advice. You can find local events and gatherings online, which can help you find activities that interest you and meet people who share similar hobbies or interests.
- Seek Professional Support
Reach out to a mental health professional specializing in expat adjustment issues to discuss your emotional needs and develop strategies for building a supportive network in the Netherlands. Even though we give some recommendations so you can try to manage difficult emotions, it is not easy and most of the time it is not enough.
- Be Patient
Understand that forming meaningful relationships takes time. Be patient with yourself and others, and don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to find your ‘tribe.’ Keep trying, and remember that every interaction is a step towards building your support network.
Building a support network as an expat in the Netherlands is a vital component of a successful transition. The process can be challenging and emotionally charged, but the rewards are immeasurable. In order to survive this challenging process, it is suggested to get therapeutic support if you do not feel well. Getting professional help is also a step that you take towards a more fulfilling and connected expat life in the Netherlands so don’t hesitate if you are struggling.