Monday, March 17, 2014

Expat Experiences: The reason why I left Tenerife

First of all, HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY! Yay, it's that day of the year again when cities, rivers and beers go green and Irish and non-Irish celebrate Irishness all over the world. It is one of my favourite celebrations and I have already enjoyed my pint of Guinness in Tenerife, Luxemburg, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Hopefully one day I'll celebrate in Ireland ... maybe next year!

Anyway, before starting to sip on Guinness, Murphy's or whichever Irish stout you like, let's go back to the important matters. Today is Monday, the kind of Monday that brings a new Expat Experience post. Yay to that too! In case you're new here or have not read about these Expat Experiences posts before, the Expat Experience is a link-up hosted by Molly of The Move to America. You can read previous installments here, here, here, here and here. The topic for this week is 'The Reason I Left' and here's my story.

The Move to America

I have always wanted to live abroad for a while and six years ago I finally had the chance to spend some time abroad as part of a student exchange program. I was in Belgium for a whole year and I loved it. In fact, I liked it so much that I didn't want to go back to Tenerife but I had to. I moved back to my parents to finish my dregee and started working in Tenerife. A couple of years went by and while part of me still yearned for a more adventurous life somewhere else, I also grew accustomed to the comfort of my old home and the idea of moving abroad started to disipate in my mind, the way the last dream at night disappears in my head when I wake up.

However, a bit more than a year upon my return I met a tall handsome man who would turn my life upside down (yep, you guessed it, he was Boyfriend). He had come all the way from Switzerland to Tenerife to do a master's degree in the same university where I studied. It was pretty clear from the start that he wouldn't stay for longer than a year and it was tacitly agreed that I would follow along. The next year I spent half the time in Switzerlanf and half the time in Tenerife. It was a tough year because we spent long periods apart, I was unemployed and couldn't find a job in Switzerland for the short term. Switzerland didn't seem quite like an option back then and out of the blue Boyfriend decided to do another amster's degree in the Netherlands. Now, that sounded like a good idea for both of us. He was attracted by the good standards (and low prices) of Dutch education and I thought the Netherlands might offer some interesting career chances, as I already spoke some Dutch. And that's how it happened that almost two years after Boyfriend and I met we moved together to the lovely city of Maastricht. 

Bye, bye, Tenerife!

I cannot deny that I left Tenerife for love but at the same time, and given the terrible situation in Spain (up to 26% umployment rate and more than 50% for those under 30), moving abroad was also a bold move for my career. Eventually, I also did a master's degree in Maastricht and had some great opportunities in the Netherlands I could've only dreamt of in Spain. This summer I followed Boyfriend to Switzerland and once again it seems almost impossible to find a job here, so there is the possibility that I will have to move another time and this time for work reasons.

Moving abroad is a difficult thing to do, even a daunting one, but it can be a very rewarding experience. Here's some advico to help you think things through in case you're considering the option of changing countries.

Make the move only if you want to - sounds obvious but too many times people follow someone else blindly only to regret it later. While things have not always worked for me, I have never looked back becauseI had always wanted to live abroad in the first place, so it didn't feel as if someone was impossing this life-changing decision on me and I've enjoyed (and loved) the experience despite the odds.

Make your work arrangements before moving - I arrived in the Netherlands without a job and was very fortunate to find something in less than a month but I wouldn't do it again. Things don't always run smoothly and it is better to know that you're moving onto something good than to the uncertainty of sharing bedrooms with acquaintances and tight budgets. Not to mention the nightmare of having to deal with unknown bureaucratic procedures and the difficulties of finding a job.

Know the language - no one will expect you to be Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe or whoever epitomises the brilliance of the language of your host country. But knowing the basics will see you through the day and help you to make the most of your expat life. Besides, having a good command of it will improve your job prospects in your new country.

Any tips to add? Experiences to share?

Have a lovely week!

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  1. It certainly was a bold move, and I can understand how the economic situation (as well as love) had helped it along.

    Your advice about sorting a job is really valuable - I did not doo that as I was so focused on getting through my endless visa process, but ti should have been something I thought of more as I am now struggling to find anything!

    Thanks for joining the linky!

  2. Hola Irene! desde luego tu experiencia como "expat" es todo un ejemplo para cualquiera que quiera lanzarse a salir de España( y tal y como están las se sabe cuando será el mejor momento). Me han gustado mucho tus consejos , sobre todo el primero , porque es algo que siempre he pensado lo mismo que tú. Sólo si estamos completamente seguros debemos emprender el cambio.
    Muchas gracias por lo del libro( ya sabes que me gusta mucho leer y tmb me gusta mucho la repostería- quiero empezar algunos posts sobre comidas a partir del mes que viene, a ver qué tal...)Marian Keyes me parece muy divertida, lo buscaré en las librerías de aquí y on line. Bss:)

    1. Me alegro que te interesase la recomendación del libro :) A mí tb me gusta Marian Keyes bastante jejeje

      Te doy toda la razón en lo de lanzarse de cabeza al cambio sólo si se está completamente seguro, al fin y al cabo es una decisión que cambia la vida!

  3. How romantic Irene! I wish I would meet somebody from abroad. HaHaHa I think you would've gone abroad despite meeting your boyfriend. What a wonderful story. Awesome tips! I'm such a worry wart that I would want to know everything before traveling. Great post!

    1. hehe well, you never know who you'll meet next!
      I was way more careless before but now I think it is very important to get all details sorted beforehand. Maybe I worry more as I age ... :)

  4. 26% unemployment?! That's awful! And terribly depressing for those coming out of university and hoping for a job. Most new graduates must move abroad then, yes?

    Don't feel about about choosing to move for love! People have made important decisions for far less worthy reasons, I think!

  5. It's very interesting to read how love plays a role in giving a nudge to leave. Like what Kim said, I think you would have left eitherway but destiny seems insistent to ensure you heed the call overseas. Have a lovely week. Hugs.

    1. Well, now I'll never know. But I'm happy I've tried living abroad and so far enjoyed the experience :)

  6. Wow you have moved around a lot! Great advice I think the first one especially is spot on, trailing spouses can have a terrible time if moving abroad was never something they wanted.

    1. Well, the last six years have been a bit crazy but I've never moved really far, so no big changes.
      I think it is always more difficult to move when it is something you have not chosen for yourself but it can still be a good experience.

  7. I love that you are such an adventurous person, Irene! Thank you so much for sharing this, I love to learn more about you!

  8. Your thought process in moving around and abroad is so interesting to read about. I'm always so jealous of people who 'have' to go away to follow their other half and so are taken on an unexpected, unplanned adventure. I'm such a romantic.

    I have also heard a lot about Maastricht. My high school advertised this as a novel option, and one that would be much cheaper than £9000-a-year university in England. How do/did you find it? Do you take classes in English? This may be a potential avenue for me in the future!

  9. I enjoyed getting to know more about why you moved. Love definitely brought my husband back to California with me, although that move wasn't quite as far as yours. :)


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