3 Things to Know Before You Go

11 Feb

People always said I would forget things or be overwhelmed and feel alone when I got to my destination for a few weeks. I never believed them. I’m so outgoing and seem to figure things out. As I finished packing I felt so ready and prepared for this new chapter in my life. I had read up on Dutch culture and other fun facts I may need to know. I was confident I had packed everything I would need. Those people were wrong, I was going to be fine, I thought.

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Then, 24 hours later, after 2 flight delays, a night in the airport, and a 3 hour train ride, I had arrived at my destination. Exhausted, frazzled, and not prepared. Since my flights were delayed, I had not arrived at the right time for my landlord to meet me at the train station. I couldn’t call them because I had no phone service yet. So I went to an ATM to get some Euros to use the pay phone. I couldn’t get any money out?!? Which brings me to tip number 1:

1. Learn about the banking system in your new home country. In Europe, one might assume that all countries using the Euro would have a similar banking system. And having been to Europe before, I used my debit/credit card to take money out of any ATM (for a fee) and happily went on my way. So I was surprised to find out after 5 different ATMs that the only country in Europe at this time that did not allow foreign debit/credit cards to take money out. Obviously becoming more frustrated as I hadn’t eaten or slept in about 36 hours at this point, I went to a bank and opened a Dutch bank account. This was a pretty good idea, which I didn’t even think of doing before I had arrived. I didn’t need to pay a transaction fee every time I used my card like I would have, had I been able to use my American one. I just had to pay 4 euros every three months and every transaction from my American bank account to the Dutch one was 20 euros, no matter how much money I transferred. Obviously living in a place that uses Euros sucks because of the terrible exchange rate, but you get used to it. So, tip number one, know how to get money before you’re starving and sleep deprived.

2. Make sure your electronic converters work well. Every time I have gone out of the United States, my converters don’t seem to work. I don’t know what makes a converter good, but I clearly don’t know how to pick ’em. So I opted for just buying the cords/plugs European style. I got a plug for my laptop and my iPhone to plug straight into the European outlets. I have a converter for other things, but those were the most important things I just couldn’t live without in case the converter was acting up. And most people already know this, but don’t bring expensive hair appliances. They usually just burn/blow up, I don’t know how you want to call that. But just buy them here if you need them.

and finally 3. Don’t get overwhelmed. there’s a lot that goes on when settling in to a new home, a new culture. especially when you don’t know anyone and you feel helpless. Even if you feel like every thing is going wrong, just know it will get better. I know, we hear that all the time as kids/teenagers…pretty much all through life, but it will get better. Things will always work out. Try to stay relaxed and open-minded about the new experiences you’re about to have. Just give it a chance, and it will be totally worth it. Now that I’m settled in here, I’m so happy I did this.

 

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One Response to “3 Things to Know Before You Go”

  1. Dorothy February 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Your suggestions are spot on! Great advice! But, we’re sorry you experienced the delays and inability to exchange money, etc. We were stuck in Venice when the volcano erupted … And learned many lessons from that experience.
    May you enjoy a fantastic journey!!

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