One Year living in Europe

by Carol Ranas
7 minutes read
If you are following me on my social media, you’ll know that my family moved to another country (again!). Our new adventure brought us to Europe, particularly in The Netherlands. We are now residing in the Netherlands for a year, and I can say that it is quite a big change for the whole family. 
Just a little backstory, my husband was given the work opportunity to relocated to The Netherlands. He negotiated to allow him to bring his family, which was accepted. Singapore is already a nice country to raise a family, but considering all variables, It was best to move to Netherland for Daxton’s future.

I never imagined myself leaving the Philippines, my home country, for good. Singapore is just 4 hour flight away from the Philippines so I never considered it away for good for we can always go back. While the Netherlands is a 13hr flight away, it is much harder to go back and forth to the Philippines logistically. Living in different countries has opened my eyes to so many things. I realized that the world can offer so many things, you deserve more benefits than what my home country offers. 
I love the Philippines, and I still think that it has the greatest beaches ever. But with what is going on in our country, it made me appreciate a lot of things. The difference (not only in the economy) from a third world country vs a first world country is quite prominent. 

Here are 3 things I realized whilst living in the Netherlands:

1. No matter how good my American English is, it is not sufficient because most Dutchies are multilingual. Their British English is conversational level, so is their French, German, Italian, etc.. 

In Singapore, I was pretty confident because communication was not an issue. English (both American and British) was widely spoken and understood anywhere in the island. When we moved here in the Netherlands, my English sounded complicated. My references, metaphors, and punchlines are too American. I forgot that speaking English is not a biggie here, speaking different languages is the norm. 

Most Asians tend to know more about American culture, especially Filipinos. I have yet to learn more about British English. Vocabulary-wise, British English is different from American English, I guess language is rooted on each countries history and associations. 
As a stay at home mom living in the suburb, my conversations with other moms were average. It is hard to form connections due to differences in cultures. If I want to form deeper connections here, I must first learn and understand the common Dutch culture, including learning the Dutch language. 

2. Netherlands is so laidback, I find most of them lazy.

Growing up in a third world country, where you have to work your ass off to be better (and survive), have been ingrained in my mind. Dutchies have all the opportunities they need to live comfortably. Better healthcare and education that is subsidized by the government, access to cheaper (and healthy) food, and being paid enough to survive. I guess people in first world countries have grown living with that privileges. 
In an Asian perspective, their laidback attitude is conceived as lazy. But with what I have observed, they are efficient in their work that it becomes routinely to them. A slight disruption can lead to alleviated stress. Order and process is very important to them. That is why the routines are heavy on paperworks and procedures. While comparing to most Asians, we are used to being resilient in our fast paced economy, fearing that we are easily replaced and out of job. Here, you can easily find a job that will pay you enough to survive. Contentment is quite easy to find here as well.

3. Netherlands is like a step back in time.

Living in Singapore for two years have been exciting due to the modern culture and advance technologies within reach. Meanwhile living in the Netherlands looked like a downgrade. 

Coming from Asia, as the frontrunners of technology and advancement, Europe felt like a step back in time. Contentment in a simple life, not being fazed with the advancement of technology and society, has been one of the things I observed they live by. Money and riches are not the driving forces for happiness and consumerism is not normal.

There are still a lot of things I have yet to discover in the Netherlands. All of these realizations are just based on one year of living, a lot can change in the future years. For now, we are enjoying our family adventure here despite missing all our friends and families. Forming friends may take a few more years, I can say that we are still in the adjustment phase. 
What do you miss most about your home country? 
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