The change we don’t notice
In general, I am always saying that studying abroad is one of the best decisions you can make in life. And it really is: new people, different culture, mind-opening experiences and so on. But there are some things that I only started noticing a while ago. So, it took me almost two years to realize the drawbacks of this experience and it’s something that probably not all of us notice.
First of all, coming to a new country means that you have to fight for your survival. Every day. You have to figure out how to pay the bills, have a roof above your head, pass the exams, do the paperwork and all that. When I was in Lithuania, I never worried about this kind of stuff. I would go to school, get back, do my homework for a bit and then just relax the remaining time. Now when I came here I realized that life might get a lot harder than I thought. And in my opinion this fight for our survival eventually makes us indifferent. Because the priority is to get through the day yourself. The only person that is going to help you out is you, so you stop caring about everything else, except for your own good. Of course, I am not saying that we are obviously uncaring and ignore everything around us. We do talk to people, ask them questions, even sometimes do favours for them and some of us find people they genuinely care about. But you can sense that people are not sincere, you know they just want to get through the day alive and that’s all, everything else is just the appropriate things people do, without even thinking about it. Yes, I do it as well. I sometimes ask people I really don’t care about and when they start answering I have already zoned out somewhere else and not even listening anymore. Isn’t that awful? And at the same time, when I feel the fake niceness from people, I get so offended. It’s funny how we get mad about stuff we do ourselves.
But this all might have a totally different side. Maybe I am just used to a different kind of life. As I always lived with my loving parents and siblings, I felt the affection at all times. I do not recall feeling as if I am often forced to ask someone about their lives just because I want to appear nice, nor do I recall having constant fake conversations. I was just caring for the ones I knew wouldn’t stab me in the back at any point. Now in here, when I am away from my closest loved ones, I am kind of deprived from the attention and care I am used to. And that is why I am always in search of real human connections. Of deeper kind of things than just getting drunk together every now and then. Because I was constantly wondering: why since I moved to Holland I am looking for my people, someone who cares and I care about? And for my relief, I think I found the answer. It’s just that I am not surrounded by such deep connections anymore and I really feel the lack of it.
I also think that all of the international students are looking for something like that, and intensely. Dutch people are way more relaxed about this than we are. They have their families here, their childhood friends here, they don’t need to look for anything. That’s why every time you go to some kind of an event you can feel that international people are way more open. They are just there, to experience stuff and to see what happens out of it. And yes, this is an advantage of being an international, coming from a drawback. We are love-deprived and that makes us open up and go out there to find something beautiful.