Immigrating is painful. Intrigued by cultures that collide with my Western mentality I have a very international network of friends, and for several years love had me commuting between Malta and Brussels. But it wasn’t until I met my Dutch husband that I decided to actually jump ship. And that hurt.
For the first time in my life I realised I did have cultural baggage that was not so easy to shake. And despite all the resemblances I still felt lost at times. Not literally lost in translation, but lost nevertheless. For the first time ever I was trying really hard to make friends and be confident. That was harder than I had imagined and when after a year I realised I didnt quite feel at home yet, I could hear the sarcasm in my own voice. Since empathy is not a core value of the Dutch, comforting words were not widespread. Untill today my Dutch father in law insists that the fact that I moved from Belgium to the Netherlands does not mean I immigrated. But I’m not talking about travelling, or relocating for a definite time span, or taking a sabbatical abroad. I’m talking about the real and scary thing of unlisting yourself in your home country and investing all your energy and savings in a new place with the intention to stay there.
Reading about conflicts expats face in a new country I recognised a lot. Looking back at it, the misunderstandings and confusion I went through are sometimes evident, sometimes sad and at other times rather hilarious.
Only now I understand how innerthwined opportunity, conflict and personal growth are.
In this blog I will share the internal conflicts I’ve encountered since immigrating to Amsterdam, aswell as the cultural aspects I detect in conflicts I am otherwise involved in either personally or professionaly as a mediator.
If you’d like to read more about intercultural transformation processes and its implications on mediation you can continue reading here.