How to feel at home in a feeling of dislocation

Written on 6th September 2021

Homesickness is a natural and common thing most people will experience when moving to a new country to study or work. The best way I found to tackle a feeling of dislocation and feel more grounded was rooted in bringing slices of home with me on my adventure. Here are some top tips I found helped: 

  • Bringing home comforts with you – some of my flatmates had a blanket they always slept with, their favourite perfume or their favourite snacks from home. I had my childhood teddy bear. These simple items make you feel more comfortable in a space in which you are not familiar with. 
  • Decorate your room – there are so many ways you can decorate your rooms, I had pictures of my friends and family, politics posters and a tapestry. You can also buy things within your time abroad. My first few weeks in Amsterdam gave me plenty of opportunities to buy decorative items in vintage flea markets (which were really cheap too!) 
  • Download/ buy a VPN system onto your laptop – I paid for NordVPN which allowed me to watch UK netflix and Amazon Prime shows. This allowed me to stay more connected to the things I was watching at home whilst also enjoying streaming shows playing in the Netherlands. 
  • An important ‘top tip’ to tackle any feeling of displacement is to keep the mind distracted – I spent the first few weeks of living in Amsterdam learning origami and visiting museums. I also strongly suggest making plans of things to do and lists of places to visit – making lists gives structure to a situation that may seem chaotic to your body and mind. 
  • Go to welcome events/ make friends with flatmates, I would urge you to make friends with people from different cultures and countries around the world. Not only does it give you companions you can visit in the future, but it brings up interesting conversations of cultural comparisons. Talking about home with a person with a completely different perspective can help to ease feelings of dislocation as it helps to see the world in different ways. 
  • Take lots of photos and pick up mementos of your activities to keep a track of your international experience. I keep a scrapbook of the places I have been to. Within this book I write down my thoughts and feelings about the year as well as sticking in pictures and postcards of places I’ve visited. 

Feelings of dislocation come and go when you’re suddenly immersed in a different culture with new people. But feelings of disarray and disturbance are not all bad. Taking time to relax and reflect on your exciting travels grounds you to your surroundings in encapsulating ways.

You’re in a new place with exciting opportunities to try new things, embrace it!

Eight peculiar (but wonderful) things I have experienced in my first few weeks in Amsterdam

 Written on 5th September 2021 

I have been in Amsterdam a little over two weeks now before the semester starts at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA). This list is a little snapshot of the peculiar places I have been to and experienced in and around the city which I recommend to any city newcomer! 

Thrift shop – T Hartje 

​This quaint shop had really cheap and funky trinkets with a mixture of clothes, jewellery, glasses, books and vinyl records. I bought shot glasses here with my flatmates; which we bedazzled with beads also brought from this shop! It is perfect for the student budget to buy little mementos of your travels! It was only a twenty minute bike ride from my accommodation in Uilenstede in Amsterdam. 

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Beatrixpark 

Amsterdam is known for being a really green city with beautiful parks. Beatrixpark is one of these large parks with bike lanes passing through it, meaning you can admire the beauty on the bike or on foot. There are also plenty of benches where you can sit and observe the green spaces. It truly is a place oozing with peace and tranquility. There is also a cool sculpture (image two) designed by Rehwinkel-Windenburg and Van Pieck to Beast – it reminded me of the Black Lives Matter movement of power to the people. 

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Naeckte Brouwers 

This beautiful brewery/restaurant is a converted church with an amazing high rise roof. Not only was the beer a reasonable price of €5 for a pint, but the atmosphere was relaxed and chilled – a vibe that encapsulates a lot of the Dutch people’s lifestyle in the capital! I also highly recommend the food, I had prawns and fries which were delicious. 

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Amstelpark

This is one of my favourite parks in Amsterdam so far! It is located only a thirty minute walk from Uilenstede in the south of Amsterdam. This huge area is home to a multitude of sculptures by local artists (see one of the sculptures in the image four) which you can explore via an audio trial describing all of the pieces of art within the grounds. Additionally, they offer a fun train ride around the park every weekend! 

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Mini Cars – Canta Cars 

These mini cars are all over Amsterdam, designed originally for disabled people, these mini cars go up to 45 Km per hour – a lot faster than bikes! They’re beyond adorable and amused me to no end as I was biking around the city. If you ever visit Amsterdam, be sure to look out for these minicars, once you spot them they’re very hard to ignore! 

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SLA – Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant 

My flatmates and I stumbled upon this restaurant randomly whilst perusing the city. It offered the freshest, delicious and reasonably priced vegetarian/vegan food. I had the vegan ice cream and bliss balls which were amazing and gave me much needed energy to keep on cycling for the rest of the afternoon. Even if you are not a veggie, the food is too good to pass up! 

Cobra Museum – Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition 

This exhibition not only displayed Kahlo and Rivera’s best works, but shed insight into the pair’s interesting relationship as lovers. I was shocked to learn that Kahlo had a sexual relationship with the Russian Bolshevik Leon Trotsky! In image six were shoes I was dying to buy (but weren’t for sale) in the exhibition – a must see in Amsterdam. 

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IJ-Hallen Flea Market 

This flea market is the largest in Europe! With an entrance fee of €5, you will find a myriad of things for sale. From earrings to clothes to household appliances. You will be sure to get some really cheap deals! I bought two vintage jumpers for €5, a deal unheard of in Manchester! It is definitely worth a visit even if you aren’t a fan of shopping! 

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