09.08.2013 – I am at Orio al Serio with a not-so-huge luggage and a one-way ticket to Eindhoven. Mum and dad brought me here by car to stay as long as possible with me, and I still feel my stomach shrinking as I think about that moment (I am very bad at saying goodbyes – still now, five years later). Actually, I feel both nervous for what I leave behind and excited for what I am going to find. Last hugs, security checks, waiting at the gate and that 1.5 hours flight – welcome in Eindhoven says the Ryanair pilot. I had never come to the Netherlands before, and I came here to stay one full year. I still find it quite crazy, and definitely not Marta-style. But the fact is that I did not think at all, I just had too many things to arrange in such a short time – like a double degree that wasn’t set up completely yet, a house, an insurance.
Finally landed in Eindhoven, I get my luggage back and I soon find the landlord of my first house waiting for me in front of the airport. We drive to the house chatting a bit over my studies that brought me to Eindhoven – the reaction of people hearing I study Mathematics is always the same. First house – Ten minutes later we reach the destination, typical Dutch house in red bricks and steep stairs. We are six people living there, in small private bedrooms sharing the facilities.
First housemates – Luckily we all are new in the house, and new to Eindhoven…at least I don’t feel like the last arrived in a well-built team. They all are Dutch, younger than me and very friendly. We start soon doing stuff and eating together. They even organize a surprise party for my birthday few weeks later!
First sightseeing – After dropping my stuff and calling home to communicate that everything has gone following the plans, I head towards the center. The house is located quite far from the city (especially if you are walking), but I am hardly discouraged and I walk. It is incredible how bigger the city seems in the beginning, as I cannot figure out exactly where I am and I always get lost. Then of course the city is big! Seriously, when asking people for help they’d tell me “oh girl, take a bus you are quite far from your destination”. But no – I keep walking and eventually I get there.
First bike – I was impressed by the number of bikes everywhere, and although I had promised I would have survived by walking, I soon get my first bike (maybe also my lack of orientation played a role). Actually, it saves a lot of time, and is the best mean of transport I have ever tried. The first exemplar is a second hand bike, got in a bike shop in the North where the guy is extremely friendly and helpful. I would recommend him, but I am happy in the meanwhile I got a better bike 😉
First meal – In this wandering around (not knowing exactly where) I get hungry. Since I am not a fun of sitting in a café or restaurant alone, I decide I can go for something simpler, and the food distributors look really what I need. So the first meal is a frikandel and a croquette. I did like the second better…but for sure I couldn’t go more Dutch! (Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it 😛 but you can find a very good one of the distributor and a croquette and of the frinkandel)
09.08.2018 – 5 years later. How could I celebrate if not with a kroket?? This time a handmade one, even better!
Thinking about the first days feels really strange, like I was new in another place, when I have actually always been in Eindhoven since then. And it is when I stay still for a moment, thinking about what has happened in the last five years, that that question comes again. What if I had not accepted the opportunity of the double degree? What if the people around me wouldn’t have pushed me towards this experience? And what if I would have not applied for that PhD position?
Would I be this happy, what would I look like?
I have never thought I could not live in Italy and find my place there, but somehow the opportunities led me to NL. And here I built my adulthood, I have my dimension. And for what I try to think and make the best choice possible, I will never be complete again: being here I will always miss my Italian roots, and even going back there I would miss all what I have built in these five years of life in the Netherlands. But instead of seeing it as being forever incomplete, I prefer seeing it as a huge luck of being in love with both, and not minding where my life will head towards. In both cases, it will be fine 🙂 ❤
Ps. forgive the low-quality photos. Apparently I did not have a very good phone at that time, and I didn’t spend so much time in taking good ones. But hey, I promised I’d share the real first impression!
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