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5 life lessons I learned from emigrating

by Sabine
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Languages / Talen

It has now been more than a year and a half since I took the step to emigrate, so it is time to take a look at what I actually learned during this period. Before I left, I did a lot of thinking, even more doubting and defying fears. After all, emigrating is not something you do overnight. In addition, I was not alone in the process. Many “what if…” questions arose in my environment. Emigrating means a big step into the deep, a step into a totally unknown future and giving up all the so-called certainties you always had. I learned a lot from my emigration. Not just about myself, an another language and about the culture, but especially many insights. Life lessons. Things that make life different, that have broadened my view and that allow me to better deal with insecurities and doubts. I have listed 5 insights for you, including inspirational quotes. Quotes that can also be very useful for any other difficult decisions or uncertainties in your life. Let’s go!

5 Life lessons I learned from emigrating

1. Anything is possible

If I have learned something, it is that anything is possible. Nothing is fixed. Not even your choices. You can always go back and there is a solution for everything. Who would have ever thought that I could live in a totally unknown country where everything is different? Well, I don’t,. Still, I took the step and I can tell you: it just worked out. I also seem to be able to live without all that stuff I had in The Netherlands. And the fact that I have no idea where I’ll be living in two years is exactly what I find exciting. Nothing is certain and that is precisely what makes life so beautiful. Or in other words:


2. Overcome your fears and do it!

By now I could write a book about all the fears that come with emigrating or any other difficult decision. What if I can’t find a job? What if I can’t get grounded? What if I have to go to the doctor? What if I want to go back? What if it doesn’t work out between Jimmy and me? (By now that has even become a reality) Fears and worries that may make sense, but should you just not do something because of that? No. Doing what makes you happy means setting aside fears. Not always easy, but it does get you where you want to be. Rather overcome that fear than later look back with regret at what you could have done but didn’t, because that thought is even more terrifying.

Overcoming fears and daring much more is one of the great advantages of emigrating.


3. Believe in yourself and you can do it

From every trip I have taken, I have learned a lot. Things I wanted to do differently at home. But always I returned to The Netherlands and quickly bounced back into my own culture and customs. When you emigrate, suddenly it’s different: I’m still Dutch, but I have to adapt now. Integrate. Becoming part of Colombian society. Now that is not always easy, but something beautiful and very instructive. The Dutch way does not always turn out to be the right way. There is so much more to this world. And I once thought that grounding in another society would not be doable, but it can be done! I see the world differently now. Have different ideas, and I know now that I can adapt, that I can become part of a totally different culture. That if I want something, it can be done. It greatly expanded my view of the future: if I can do this, I can do it again. And I can do other things that I have doubts about. I am less afraid of the unknown, and that is a wonderful feeling!


4. Create your own future

Life cannot be predicted. And that is (usually) just as well. So why not follow your heart and do what you really want? Thinking about your retirement, for example, may seem very wise now, but what if there is no pension at all when you stop working? It would be such a shame if things like this, which cannot be predicted, prevent you from fulfilling your dreams. I have learned more and more in recent years to listen to my heart, my feelings, and supplement it with a little bit of reason. Letting my future be the way I want it to be. The future is not fixed; you have to create it yourself. The future begins now! On creating your own path, I gave this TED talk.


5. Follow your heart; choose for yourself

Follow your heart: it sounds so easy but it’s not always easy. Although most reactions to my decision to emigrate were positive, there were also many question marks. Changing my mind. Question marks that then also appeared in my head and wouldn’t get out. Locked in thoughts I didn’t really want to have. All these reasons not to go, not to take the step. Still, I chose for myself and struggled to leave everyone behind. A terrible choice at the time, but now very glad I took that step. There is a solution for everything, so for a situation like this, too. Follow your heart, follow your feelings and make your dreams come true!


What is your biggest life lesson?

You can read all about emigrating here.

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