Learn what life is like as a Brazilian expat in the Netherlands, what the challenges of expat life can be like, and how moving abroad can be a time of great personal growth.
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Leaving your home to live elsewhere is always a challenge as I discussed with another Brazilian expat, Roberta D’Angelo Mellis. Fernanda and I talk about how, despite the challenges of being an expat, moving abroad can be a wonderful opportunity for personal growth.
Fernanda shared about her journey from Brazil and how she chose to pursue new experiences and education in Amsterdam. She met her Dutch boyfriend and they now live together with their daughter.
These opportunities led to her shifting from being an actress and drama teacher to becoming a holistic therapist and seeking to provide other expat women with a better knowledge of the Dutch healthcare system.
Navigating a new health care system
Fernanda shared how having a baby in a health care system that you don’t know how it works can be a scary and overwhelming experience.
For Fernanda, navigating a new health care system involved hours of research trying to find information to help her. She would read information from other expats, Dutch blogs using Google Translate, and information from Brazilian bloggers.
However, she was frustrated by the lack of resources all in one place and that the information she could find was often several years old and the costs for services were no longer up to date.
She also shared how you have to be assertive and advocate for yourself with the doctors here in the Netherlands. If you feel like you are in need of something more than a pain reliver you have to ask directly for it.
After the birth of her daughter, she wrote an ebook assembling all of the information she had learned and collected into one resource. It currently is available in Portuguese with plans to translate it into English.
Living abroad can be like a fresh start
Fernanda shared how growing up with the same people, although they see you grow and develop, they sometimes still see you as one person, even if you no longer are like that.
In her case, it was people seeing her as an actress and a drama teacher, even though she had begun on these new paths that led her to holistic therapy, candle making, and being an advocate for women.
Moving abroad allows for you to be the person you are now with no one’s preconceived notions of who you are. You get to move forward with the new person you hope to become. You get to present your best self to people.
Challenges and benefits of moving abroad
Getting used to new foods can always be difficult but in Fernanda’s case, getting used to a very different style and emphasis on mealtimes was hard. In Brazil, lunch and dinner are usually a warm meal and you have a longer time to eat. In the Netherlands, lunch is a small quick meal that is usually a sandwich and dinner is the warm meal.
Also, Fernanda, despite having a Dutch partner, still found it difficult to make new friends. She feels that although the Dutch are very kind they are not very open to welcoming new friends into their circle.
Missing her friends and family was another challenge that Fernanda said was even more of a challenge after having her daughter. Although there are many ways to connect not having the day to day interactions with those you love can be very difficult.
Besides getting an opportunity to have a fresh start, Fernanda has enjoyed the chance to get to know a new culture and a new way of life. She still gets to enjoy the outdoors, especially in the summer, and she likes the fact that it is not as hot as it is in Brazil.
Advice for others
Before you move abroad, whether as an expat or as an immigrant, being prepared is an important step. Fernanda doesn’t want people to be discouraged from moving, but she does want them to do the research.
Being prepared financially is very important. For us, we had to have lots of money up front to show we could support ourselves. If you are moving for a job you will most likely have a lot more assistance but if you are moving as an immigrant, you might not.
Don’t make the same mistakes we did and learn from the top mistakes we made moving abroad.
Also, make sure you research about the weather. For the Netherlands in particular, it’s very cold and rainy in the winter so moving from a sunny climate maybe isn’t the best in winter.
Dealing with seasonal depression
Since we both come from sunny climates, Fernanda and I shared our mutual struggle with the Dutch weather. In particular, the lack of sunlight for sometimes days or weeks on end.
For me, I had a friend recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement and another friend suggest a therapy light. Fernanda also suggested sun tanning maybe once or twice a month as well!
Thank you for joining me on this journey! Happy exploring!
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Show notes links
Fernanda, 32 years old, graduated in arts. Now a holistic therapist who works with Reiki, Herbs, Akashic Records Reading, and handcraft candles @zielehuis.
She also runs the IG @momdernist where she discuss motherhood and feminism (in Portuguese). Her first e-book about having children in the Netherlands will be released shortly, first version in Portuguese but English is on the way.