Moving is never easy. You leave something behind, hoping to find greatness. You fill your suitcase with big dreams and unachievable expectations. You see the world not as a place but as a community of people and you want to get to know them all. Moving is never easy. Maybe you couldn’t wait because you didn’t like your life, but perhaps you miss it already. You had a nice house and a supportive family, plenty of friends around you and yet…you decided to move.
I think that when you live abroad, the people you meet on the road become some kind of temporary family.
So, here you are. New city, new people, new you. That’s what I tell myself every time I move: I can be whoever I want because nobody knows me. The truth is that, after some time, you learn that ‘you’ is not only one thing; ‘you’ is not only one feeling, ‘you’ can be anything and nothing at the same time. I say that every place I move to feels different, and therefore, makes me a different person. It’s confusing at times, you arrive in a brand new city, thinking you know who you are: a determined and outgoing person. However there, nothing is like you expected it to be and you are not who you thought you were. It messes with your head. But that’s what you need new friends for: to help you discover this new part of you, to help you enjoy the experience and to be by your side. I think that when you live abroad, the people you meet on the road become some kind of temporary family. Someone you look up to and ask for advice to. Someone to share small and big moments with. Simply someone who is there for you. Because, at times, this is all we need. Someone who will sit with us and make us feel less lonely for a minute. Someone that will understand when we are homesick, and someone that will laugh with us when we need it the most.
I decided to be a mentor for Intreeweek this year and I’ve had an amazing week where I got to meet so many new people and introduce Amsterdam to new students. By talking to them I understood that what scares people the most after all is being alone. We, students that leave everything behind to move abroad, are just like every other person: terrified of finding ourselves alone. But we jump in the dark and we need to be able to control this fear because, most of the time, when you move to a new city you know nobody there. It’s an effort having to deal with the move and adapt to a new city all by yourself. You feel a bit lost and all you dream about is having your friends right there next to you.
This is the main reason students sign up to Intreeweek: to meet new people. To the question: ‘Why did you decide to take part in Intreeweek?’ every single student I talked to answered with ‘to make new friends’, ‘to get to know new people before university starts’.
It might seem banal but it’s not. It’s never easy to get out there and introduce yourself to a stranger. You worry that person might not be the right one for you. You are scared that person might not like you. It’s never easy but we do it anyway because, sometimes, being lonely is scarier than a moment of embarrassment.
Just Like A Dream…
Students that move abroad are usually highly motivated. It has been their dream for a very long time. “I’ve always dreamed of living in Amsterdam so it wasn’t a hard choice to make but leaving my family all the way on the other side of the world was slightly tough” says Rawaan (19). Sometimes the need to achieve a dream is stronger than the bond you have with your family and your home. I have dreamed of living abroad for all my life and I can’t imagine a life different from this for myself. I found myself thinking I was the only one who felt this way multiple times, but then I arrived in Amsterdam. Everything is different here. You realize that there are millions of other students that feel just like you. There are other young people that have been dreaming about what you have since they were little. Probably you were not the only one researching on Google pictures of places and people. Probably you were not the only one keeping a world map on top of your bed, so that you could fall asleep dreaming about where you would be one day. And now, here you are, fulfilling your dream. You feel excited and hopeful and you would like for everything to be just like in your dreams.
…Or Is It?
Every day is an excuse to go out and talk to a stranger, and this is what Amsterdam is perfect for.
Although, struggles are real. Life is not a dream and you will soon realize that being away from home, away from everything you have always known is not as easy as you might’ve thought. Thankfully you are motivated to be here, in a brand new place, and it excites you. Not knowing how tomorrow is going to look, feeling opportunities all around you. Every day is an excuse to go out and talk to a stranger, and this is what Amsterdam is perfect for. It is such an international city, full of young people. Here, you can talk to someone while in line at the grocery store and literally become best friends. There are not many places like this. But still, it’s not easy to enter the mentality where talking to people you do not know is okay. Yes, you will struggle, we all do. When asked what they think they will struggle with the most, many students answered “Loneliness. I’m not great at making friends or having people like me. Also I think I will really struggle with homesickness” (Analia, 18). It’s not easy and I can promise you it won’t get easier with time. Sad but true. However, you will learn to live with it and how to handle homesickness. You will find your way out of dark days, and it will mostly be thanks to the friends you meet on the way. Because they understand, they might be feeling just like you. All you have to do sometimes, it’s open up to someone and realize that you are not alone. Your dream is still out there and you should keep fighting for it.
Edited by: Andreea Rebegea