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Tips on How to Make The Netherlands Feel Like Home

When you are living far away from home, it is always important to find the little things that make your new location feel more familiar. Here are some of the ways that international students studying in the Netherlands make their new place feel like home.

How to Make the Netherlands Your New Home

In order to find out how international students integrate into their new lifestyles here in the Netherlands, I decided to interview some of my fellow classmates directly. You might find some of these ideas useful during your own moving-in process to the Netherlands...

1. Cook Homemade Meals

When I asked my Mexican friend, Diana, what she does to make the Netherlands feel like home, she stressed that the most important was by far to cook homemade Mexican food. She explained that "Since the Netherlands is so different from Mexico culturally, but also in terms of how the cities look like, my only true relief is food." She remarked that although it is quite hard to find all the typical Mexican ingredients, she does manage to find the things she needs in the Mexican/Latin American stores across The Hague. At least once a month, Diana buys all the ingredients she needs to cook herself as much Mexican food as possible. 

My friend Luca from Italy similarly identified food as one of the most important aspects of moving to a new place. He explained that because cooking is such an integral part of the Italian lifestyle, "cooking the recipes of my family makes me feel at home. It also helps me keep my stress levels low. In general, I appreciate more what I eat if I cooked it too. Plus, it’s always a good excuse to invite friends over and it makes my girlfriend happy!"

2. Connect with Other International Students

Diana also noted that it helps her to talk to other international students going through the same process. She specifically likes to attend parties and Mexican cultural events organized by student associations. "It is always so nice to network with other Mexican students going through the same process as you and to enjoy a bit of Mexican warmness."

3. Explore Your Surroundings

When I asked my Hungarian friend, Anna, what she liked to do to feel at home in the Netherlands, she explained that exploring her surroundings was the most important. She noted that "Since coming to the Netherlands four and a half years ago, I have moved five times, and each time I move, whether it is within the same city or to another one, I take long walks and explore my neighborhood. Just knowing where you are, what shops are around you, whether there is a park to relax, or where to find a cozy cafe for brunch can make you feel secure and at home." 

4. Maintain Your Normal Routine

Sabrina, from Taiwan, explained that one of the most important ways to feel at home, was to keep following her normal daily routine. "When I arrived to The Hague, I decorated my room, read as much as possible and cooked for myself most of the time - just like how I used to do when I was in Taiwan." Maintaining a normal routine helped Sabrina feel at home in the Netherlands a lot faster.

Everyone has their own way of making a new place feel like home. With time, the process will become a lot easier and new aspects will begin to feel a lot more familiar. The main take-away message, is to find those little things that allow you to bring a piece of home with you wherever you go.

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