A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

How to be a happy expat

Expat in the Netherlands? No worries! We are all on the same boat. Here are some tips to cheer you up when you have the expat blues.

Realise you are not alone

There is a massive international community in Leiden and the whole of the Netherlands. More likely than not, there are also others experiencing the exact same things you are. You are not the only one who has not found an internship yet, who is worried your English is not good enough or who fell a few courses short.

Seek warmth in social support

Create a circle of people to surround you, a substitute for your best friends and family, whom you have left behind. It could be your housemates, your colleagues, your yoga or dance classmates. Take some time to get to know and connect with them and chances are that you will create an expanded multicultural family in the end. Just stay positive and see the good in people.


Appreciate the beauty of the city and its people

Take a moment to look around you. Find out what are the unique things Holland has to offer. Try all things Dutch. Make an effort to learn the language and socialize with the locals. Learn about the country, its history, its perks, its traditions. Learn about the culture and the arts, learn that Escher was Dutch and that Rembrandt was a Leidener.

Find happiness in what you do

In times of doubt, go back to the reasons that brought you here. Fall back in love with your studies, your research, your books and your ideas, because they are here to broaden your mind and make you a better person.


Just do it. In and outside the Netherlands, whenever you can find some time. You can be in Paris in three hours by train, in Morocco in four hours by plane or in Antwerp in two hours by bus to name a few. A trip no matter how big or small, will always provide some new adventures and beautiful experiences to remember.

Be yourself

Do the things that used to make you happy before you migrated. It is natural that in the beginning you will be too busy with your studies or worn out a bit from trying to adjust to your new life, but in the end of the day it is also important to enjoy yourself and to have a good time. Whether it would be going to the movies, to museums, drawing, sporting or going to parties. You are not here to lose yourself, you are here to expand it.

Water your roots and spread your branches

Stay in touch with your loved ones, but at the same time remember to live the life you have at the moment. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, they say, and you would not want to spend your life behind a screen. Go out, with friends or on your own, make memories and create amazing stories for that time you lived in the Netherlands, or for when you were a fresh little expat.

The expat life can get tough at times, but the decision you made to come here was totally worth it. Everything will be alright in the end, and as Maya Angelou said:




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This entry was posted on February 22, 2016 by in Living in Holland, Melenia.

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