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From the Netherlands to Manchester: The Navigatio

23 October, 2017 07:25  Erin Erin

The Navigatio

I'm Nele (pronounced as Nayla), a Dutch 22 year old girl who moved to Manchester, England in 2014. While studying English and Creative Writing, I also share my experiences and interests on my blog.

1.Why did you move abroad?
There’s two main reasons why I decided to move abroad at 18 years old that go hand in hand. One, my boyfriend is English. Two, I wanted to study English but not purely as a second language. When I discovered Manchester Metropolitan University offered an English and Creative Writing degree, I started planning my move. It was made a lot easier because I already knew my boyfriend and his family there, who have helped me massively!

2. How do you make a living?
I’m a fulltime university student but because I’m a foreigner for the English government I don’t get any maintenance loan. Which is why I work part-time on the side of my university degree. It’s doable, but working 20-30 hours every week on top of a degree can get pretty tough! Right now I work in a lovely little café/bookshop which fits in perfectly with my studies and I really enjoy working there. Before working there I worked at McDonalds and at a hotel bar. Out of the three, I definitely enjoy my current job most!

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Even though I’m very busy, I try to stay in contact as much as possible. My friends and I chat with each other on whatsapp almost daily. Same thing for my family, as we have a little groupchat. Every now and then I do try to call them or skype them to have a good catch up and hear their voices. When I get really homesick I try to fly home for a couple of days as Ryanair tickets aren’t that expensive. The main issue is trying to find enough time to actually fly back! It’s almost impossible during term time.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Manchester?
There’s so many things that I love about being an expat in Manchester, but my favourite thing is being able to speak English 24/7. This might sound a bit strange, but I can express myself a lot better in English compared to Dutch. The language somehow fits my personality better than my first language does!

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Manchester?
At the moment the worst thing is probably the uncertainty about Brexit. Because I’ve only been in England for three years (which are also study years so they won’t count towards my residency card) there’s not much certainty for my future here. Because the government doesn’t even know what will happen to EU citizens after Brexit, there’s no way of knowing myself.

6. What do you miss most?
There’s a lot of things I miss from the Netherlands, but if I had to narrow it down to one it would be food! The Dutch cuisine isn’t anything special, but I do really miss traditional Dutch dishes and snacks. Especially the sweets and biscuits that aren’t available in England. My parents send me some over every now and then and usually my suitcase is packed with them when I fly back to England.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
My boyfriend’s friends have been absolutely amazing making me part of their little group. They’ve always been super supportive! All my other friends I’ve made via my university course and my jobs. 99% of my friends are English which is really fun, but it does make me miss the Dutch a bit sometimes. I recently met a group of Dutch people who live in Manchester and meeting up with them was the little boast I needed!

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
One thing I really had to get used to was being incredibly polite all the time. I’m not saying that the Dutch are rude, but we’re very straightforward. I definitely had to tone myself down a little, but I think I’ve adapted pretty well!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I don’t know if this is a myth but I always thought that every British citizen had a proper  “English Breakfast” for breakfast. You know, the ones with beans, sausages etc. I’m sure there’s people who do eat this in the morning but I haven’t met them yet haha! Brits are pretty normal when it comes to breakfast. Cereal will do!

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
I feel that England is a little bit more expensive than the Netherlands, but it might be because I live in a city now whereas I used to live in a small countryside village. Also the fluctuation between the pound and the euro make it a bit difficult to keep track of it sometimes. I don’t have to flip every penny and always have enough money to go out and do fun things outside of paying my rent and my bills, so I feel like I can’t complain.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
Be open to the new culture and new people. I noticed that sometimes it’s hard for me not to compare things in England with things from the Netherlands. But I’ve learned to stop doing so and just accepting these new “rules” of the country. It’s so much more fun to dive into a new culture without having to compare everything. It gives you so much more freedom.

The Navigatio 12. When and why did you start your blog?
Over the years I’ve had many different blogging projects. But with the end of my English and Creative Writing degree coming nearer, I felt that I had to create a writing portfolio in the form of a blog. It’s a great creative outlet for me to combine my passion for writing and photography together on a platform where I can share my interests and experiences with others.

The Navigatio has been online since July 2017 and the responds has been overwhelmingly nice! Even though I’m back at university now I’m keeping up with new content pretty well and try to include as much about the expat life as I can.

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