My move to the Netherlands - Part 1
Imagine receiving a DM on LinkedIn from a recruiter – one of the many lately that have been creeping in. Only, this time you open the message to read what it says since it happens to be lunchtime and you have some free time.
The message contains a simple message saying that she has an opportunity, but this opportunity involves moving to the Netherlands. “Wouldn’t that be something”, you think to yourself. So you respond and say you would be interested in having a call. The call is set up, and the recruiter on the other side feels like an old friend you are talking to. She makes you feel so at ease. You have another call, but this time it’s with a Dutch lady. You feel so anxious because you’ve heard about the Dutch ‘directness’ and you sure as heck do not want to offend this lady by accident. After the call, she tells you to be yourself and to be honest. And for the love of all things, don’t be nervous because she is also just a person. Queue some laughs, more conversations. You tell your mom there *may* be this amazing opportunity but you’re still just feeling it out and going through the process. You’ve been speaking to your partner, hopeful but doubtful. A lot of conversations and web research goes into the Netherlands. A lot of late-night conversations start with: “But can you imagine this actually happens to us…”, or “I wonder what it would be like to…”
It is now December, and you have had your final interview with the company that you have been assigned to. After the call, about 2 hours later, they say: “Yes. This is someone we want in our team”. You did it. You have landed the job.
This is what happened to me when I got recruited. And it’s been such a crazy journey so far, and often it still seems like this is a wonderful dream and not yet my reality.
After finding out I had the job and contracts signed, I had to tell my parents. We had a camping trip, and I decided to tell my mom then that my partner and I are moving to the Netherlands. My mom and I were doing the dishes one evening, and I tell her that I have actually been approved and I’ve accepted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to the Netherlands. She looks at me and is quiet for a moment, and suddenly the floodgates open and there are tears that don’t stop. Her only daughter is moving to another country! I can only imagine what it must have felt like.
After telling my mom, I walk out and speak with my dad and tell him the news. He is a lot calmer, and says that he is so proud of me and it’s a good decision. After the trip, I called the rest of my friends and family to give them the news and everyone is overjoyed.
The planning now has to start – We need a lot of documents! And we need them now!
In fact, there is so much planning needed that I create a Jira Board of sorts to track the progress of documents and other admin stuff that we needed. The program I used was https://monday.com/
The documents we needed were:
· Letter of no impediments
· Unabridged birth certificates
· Police clearance certificates.
Beforehand, we took passport photos, proof of address, copies of our Id’s, bank statements – and we got all of them certified. (We ended up not needing anything apart from our ID’s and money to pay for these).
And the wait started…
After a couple of teary goodbyes from my old companies (did I mention I was working two full-time jobs just to be able to afford a good living standard in South Africa?), my first day at my new company begins. And oh boy, how pleasant my new kollegas are? After the introduction, I received many messages offering help and guidance, and "if I can help with anything". I had this image in my head of Dutchies being kind of rude, not interested, maybe even a bit biased that a foreigner is now working for their company? Now, I feel ashamed that I even thought this way since I was told prior that this is not the case, but still the nervous thoughts were taking over my rational thinking. I felt right at home here.
I received a call from Diane saying that I have been invited to go to the Netherlands to meet my new kollegas in my second week of working for my new company. I have never been out of the country – and to receive this invitation… Wow. I am struck in awe that I, an unassuming Afrikaans girl from somewhere in the North West will now be travelling for work. What a dream come true! And to make things even better, I am put into contact with another SA colleague who will be working for the same company. We agree to meet at Schiphol as our flights land nearly at the same time. Thank goodness for that, if not for her I’d probably still be lost!
Our hotel is around the corner from Dam square, the lobby seems straight out of a fairy tale. High ceilings with the most beautiful stained-glass windows. After settling in, our amazing Diane takes us out for a drink and the famous bitter balen at a Bruine kroeg. During the walk there, we speak about the Netherlands, and particularly Amsterdam. Of course, the red light district comes up and I mention that I absolutely do not want to go there. It sounds dangerous! Till this day, I remember Diane looking at me with a big smile, and her informing me “But Chantelle, you are right now in the red light district!” Looking around, it looked just like any other street in Amsterdam (apart from one sex shop). Again, another prejudice I had that was grounded in misconception! Right then and there, I decided that I won’t be scared of things I thought I knew about the Dutch culture and the Netherlands, but to rather take in this opportunity in full strides.
Arriving at the Bruine Kroeg, the atmosphere was so warm and inviting. Diane orders us Tessels, a Dutch beer (blonde ale if anyone is interested). It was so tasty! I don’t know if it’s just the excitement or the flight, but that 350ml beer had me tipsy! The bitter ballen came, and I was awe struck how Diane just ate it, so hot! I had to blow on mine like a child hahaha.
After another few rounds of beer, we say farewell to Diane and off my colleugue and I went to explore. The architecture, the people, the smells… It’s hard to explain how elated I felt, and how full of wonder. Every day was packed with new sights, food and new people. My team had a brainstorming session away from the office, and I got to ride on the Ferry (my first time on a boat). I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time, and went for drinks after. We had lunch with beautiful Lyndsey on a rooftop, with a view over Amsterdam. I went walking most nights to explore, not noticing the time because everything is so beautiful. In that short week, I walked 82 kilometers! Which, if you know me, is a miracle.
I am so thankful for this trip. Any doubts I had at all was distinguished. I knew I was meant to be here.
The flight back was sad, but now I had a new fire for all of the admin that awaited the move.
Read Part 2 of the blog HERE!
- Chantelle Hattingh, Quality Assurance Engineer