Expat Story: How travelling helped me get settled…

Expat Nest welcomes culture/travel blogger Tea Gudek Šnajdar, who talks about the special role that travel has played in her expat experience. Exploring her new country and taking advantage of the many opportunities available to travel outside of it has led Tea to find new purpose and perspective – and to a career that fascinates and fulfils her…

 Beginnings are always hard…

And they are especially hard when you have to start your whole life from scratch.

Two years ago my husband and I moved to the Netherlands after he got a job here. In the beginning, it felt like a free holiday. Everything was novel and interesting; we were discovering a new city… But when I realized I should start making my life here and that it wasn’t exactly easy to find a job in a country whose language I didn’t speak, that lovely, spacious apartments with a canal view are crazy expensive, and that I had no friends, reality hit me. It hit even harder when, a month later, I discovered I was pregnant.

The mix of loneliness and homesickness – and the unanswered questions about the meaning of you as a person and of your life in general – are familiar to many expats.

Stepping out and making memories

Things started to improve slowly when I began volunteering for an organisation that was collecting and preserving expat stories. Being surrounded by different life stories showed me that I’m not alone in this experience.

I also started to explore my new country more. By visiting museums, historical sites and restaurants and by hanging out with my new fellow citizens, I learned a lot about the place. And in understanding the culture, it became easier for me to accept it and feel more comfortable in it. We already had a few of ‘our’ places and I was beginning to feel more like a local.

Explore your world and get to know yourself too…

Because I love to travel, I started to explore more outside the country. When I saw a list of destinations you can travel to from Schiphol airport, that you can be in Paris in only three hours by train and that a return ticket to any Belgian city costs only 50 euros, I was hooked. Travelling became my favourite free-time activity. I enjoyed the whole process: planning, researching the destination and finally being in the new city, walking its streets and feeling its spirit.

Travelling gave me the opportunity to see the bigger picture of my life. I started to wonder: what stories will I have when I’m 60? Will I have had an interesting, fulfilled life? Or will I have lived it in fear of change?

It’s all worth it

Somewhere along the way, I realized that travel is what I want do for a living – so I started to work in tourism and also launched a travel blog. Two years later, I can say that I know my purpose. Being an expat is still difficult sometimes, but I have found myself. I’ve found my goal. And of course, now there are three of us travelling together!

So, yes, a relocation is tough at the beginning… but it’s definitely worth it. If you’re feeling lost, take a trip and lose yourself in your new home country. It’s a good start.

Tea Gudek Šnajdar is a culture/travel blogger, living in Amsterdam. She writes about art, culture, travelling and expatriate experiences. You can read her articles at www.culturetourist.com.


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© Vivian Chiona

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