The following is a guest post by Catherina Donkersloot. Originally from Holland, Catherina now lives in Sydney — moving there alone a few months ago. You can connect with her on Instagram @cathventure.
February 8, 2016. I remember like it was yesterday.
My entire life, as it was at that moment, changed within five minutes that night. A new country, new house, new job and new friends were waiting somewhere out there, and I was ready to conquer my long time dream.
That Beautiful Monday in February.
I called my dad that morning to invite him for dinner with me in Rotterdam, the city I grew up in. I lived in Amsterdam at that time, and since my dad was always a busy man I found that next to his office was the only place to meet him. I think he knew what I was about to ask him though; because when I got to the restaurant the first thing he ordered was wine — which we most certainly needed.
I didn’t even have to start the conversation, because my dad immediately asked, ‘”So which country do you want to move to?” I had always talked about leaving everything behind, and moving far away. The United States had been my top priority but unfortunately, a green card with my name on it is still waiting somewhere out there. So Australia was the next best option.
The second thing my dad asked was, ‘‘which city?” He actually asked a colleague of his in Perth, who subsequently suggested I should move to Sydney since there are more job opportunities. So Sydney it was, and within a few minutes I had found my new home sweet home.
After the Wines.
The hardest thing was deciding when to go – not where to go. I had a good life in Holland; great friends, good job, nice house, and a great guy. So how do you leave that all behind?
That was definitely not easy. People always make it seem so easy, but trust me it’s not. At the end of the day however, all things happen for a reason, and I wouldn’t have ever wanted to miss this experience! The first thing I had to do was quit my job in a manner that was appropriate, and within the amount of time that was needed in order to finish up. I had already written my notice two days after I decided to move to Australia, and my last day was set as April 29th – two and a half months after my decision.
The Loved Ones.
My dad wasn’t always supportive of my decision, in fact when I wanted to leave two years ago he was very skeptical, but now I had the work experience and a bit more life experience so he was very supportive – which helped me a lot in planning. My dad is my hero, and it sounds weird, but being 17.000km away from each other has actually improved our father-daughter bond. My family lives in Poland – since my mom is Polish – and my dad was always away for work, so I’m used to not being surrounded by my loved ones.
But I’ve learned through moving abroad, that as long as your family supports you, nothing is hard. You just need to have faith in yourself, and follow your dreams. I have always done what I thought was expected of me, which really made me unhappy – so I changed that.
The Next Chapter.
I left for my big adventure on May 3rd. I said goodbye to everyone in the weeks before then, and I was ready to go. To be honest, instead of binge watching movies on the plane, I cried a lot. 28 hours of flying sure gives you a lot of time to think.
It might have been the scary part that took over – the ”what if” questions. I have always been a planner, and for once in my life nothing was set. I had a place to sleep for the first days in Sydney, but that was it. No job lined up, or permanent address. No friends and no clue how long I would be away from home – those thoughts scared me so much.
When I look back now I kind of laugh at myself. I have been in Sydney for almost four months, and although I was extremely homesick the first few days and wanted to go home so badly, I can’t even imagine going back to Holland anytime soon.
People just need to find their ”flow” in their new city I guess. Go with the flow you might say, and that really applies!
No Worries, Be Happy.
I don’t know whether it was all good luck, or just hard work paying off, but I found a job and a great apartment within two weeks of moving to Sydney. I have the best co-workers and found amazing friends. I’m starting to build the same life I had back home, however there is a really big difference. The sun is out every day! People tend to forget how much the weather can affect your mood!
Australia has a totally different mindset about life – essentially, ‘no worries, be happy.’ I’m more chilled out here in Australia than I ever was in Holland, and I love it.
Dare to Dream.
Of course moving away to a different country is not for everyone. I have a lot of friends back home that moved in with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and sure they are very happy with that decision, but it’s just not for me.
A piece of advice that I would like to give everyone is to just follow your heart. It sounds very cliché, but it’s really true. Although our generation will probably live very long lives, you should still take chances when you’re young. Explore all the different things in life, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because people learn from their mistakes. One of my favorite politicians always mentions in her speeches how many mistakes she’s made in her life, as well as the failures she had to go through in order to reach her successes.
Take risks and stay positive. Don’t focus too much on the future, and be true to yourself. Don’t let anyone hold you back from your dreams!