Dutch of Course
When or where do you feel at home?
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
I feel safe, joyful and at home when I'm teaching. Teaching is my 'happy place'. Whether I'm teaching Dutch online, or in person, individually, at companies or in a group, I always enjoy what I do for a living: teaching Dutch and helping people reach their personal goal(s).✨
Teaching brings me happiness, energy and inspires me by helping others master their Dutch language skills. 🔥
I love working with expats who are motivated, determined and fully focussed during our classes. My students make me smile, and I enjoy observing them during their learning process. I motivate them, keep a track record of their progression, and I always push my students gently towards making it to their finish line.
Sometimes Big Magic happens during our classes. This is usually when my students realize that they're very close to reaching their goal. This is a feeling, an experience that even I, an experienced Dutch language teacher, cannot describe. That's why I borrowed this beautiful Spanish word: QUERENCIA.
Do you feel at home in the Netherlands? Are you settled and cannot ever imagine leaving? Is it something you are successfully working on, fully committed to a life here?
My intention for this article is to encourage a better understanding of the process of settling in The Netherlands, and hopefully, afterwards, to hear some of your own experiences.
Whether you feel at home or not, my simple question is this: why?
Sometimes the road of an expat is lonely.
It is an inescapable fact that being an expat can sometimes be incredibly lonely, even if you are surrounded by people that mean a lot to you. My current theory is that this often boils down to two things: language and culture.
Let’s talk about language first. If a language is in any way an underdeveloped skill (or still a work-in-progress) then you can often find yourself saying what you can, not what you want. In short, you are unable to express yourself. This is obvious to everyone learning Dutch, as you may want to engage in deeper conversations or ones more meaningful than, essentially, speaking like a child. It can be frustrating and difficult at times, but it's an unavoidable part of the language learning process.
Is it possible to feel at home in a place you struggle to fully express yourself in?
Engaging with the Dutch culture
We all have different tastes, of course, and there are undoubtedly a lot of positives to be found within Dutch culture and about the Dutch inhabitants. However, for many it may become a question of finding that balance between respecting, engaging with, and understanding the native culture (which are all undoubtedly vital facets) but not at the expense of excessive compromise and just ‘putting up with’ things. We want to gain a stronger connection to our surroundings and the people that fill them in an authentic way, which helps us feel comfortable and most at home.
But stop and think for a second about the people you have in your life here in the Netherlands, and whom you have the strongest connection to. Are you of similar cultures? Do you share the same language? Do you have to regularly stop and explain cultural references? What compromises are present?
Arguably the most important is the most difficult. The question ‘do you see yourself still living here in five years’ time?’, for example, is vital: because if you can’t answer it with any real conviction, then what does that say about your connection to the Netherlands?
If you genuinely do not know, maybe pondering the nature of what it is to feel at home may unlock the answer. This, in my mind, is why it is so important to not just highlight this topic but to share our experiences as you never know just how much it may help another expat going through a period of uncertainty or loneliness.
Do you feel at home in the Netherlands? Do you want to master your Dutch skills?
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