Kloppend hart van Rotterdam

How my life as an expat started?

Melis Guvensoy Tekst
Marieke Odekerken Beeld

No story is boring. I believe everyone`s story is as exciting as anyone else`s. Do you know why? Because they all include the universal feelings excitement, fear, sadness, laughter, hate and of course love.

So how was Rotterdam different to my other stories? I never started stories just by myself. I either had family, or friends around. My Rotterdam story started on my own. Therefore, it was even more scary, to simply get on a plane and move from one country to another. I moved to Rotterdam upon a job offer which I signed for in only a couple of days. It was based on a blind risk and trust in a start-up company with no guarantee. I am thankful I took it as I would never be able to see this new born baby – Rotterdam.

Never before

After living in England for 6 years, I moved to Cyprus. Even though Cyprus is my home, I always had the urge to leave – I always felt like I have unfinished work done somewhere outside the island. I took the job in Rotterdam, and started in September 2016. I’ve only been to the Netherlands once a couple of years ago – and that was, as you can guess, to Amsterdam. If I only knew Rotterdam, that trip would have definitely been to Rotterdam and not Amsterdam. For that reason, I made a move to a city I’ve never been before. Forget that I did not know the city, I also did not know anyone. But, a bit of fear that I had on the journey, was suppressed by the excitement of finally stopping to complain that I needed a change towards my dreams, and I was actually making the change! Part of me also wanted to inspire people who are scared to take risks. To show, it is scary, but it is not deadly!

‘I had a sense of belonging, the city was welcoming, and people were calm’

As I stepped into Rotterdam Central Station, my feet only walked ahead. I had a sense of belonging, the city was welcoming, and people were calm. The number of people is ideal, the noise is minimal, and the city is new-born! Smells like a flower just popped out of a seed or like a new-born baby. Simply, it is fresh and young. Rotterdam gives me the feeling that itself is a baby and it will grow together with me, learn with me, get scared with me and engage with me.


Of course, not every day was sunshine and rainbows. Some hardships were, and still, are there. Finding a house, making friends, opening bank accounts, registrations are all the things no one likes to do. But, nothing comes with a silver plate! Therefore, take things with a pinch of salt and let them make you grow. The more you blend with that pinch of salt, the more you learn how to survive on your own. Another good side of Rotterdam is that everyone speaks English. Consequently, it helps you blend in quicker (Of course it makes learning Dutch harder, but hey, if you want to learn Dutch, there is no excuse, right?)

I will always be an absolute defendant of “Taking risks will always reveal the sides of you, you never knew existed, because it will let you discover the strengths and weaknesses you have that you did not know existed”. Rotterdam revealed so many sides of me as I pursue my life as an expat that I can`t thank the city enough. In the end, worst case scenario is that you just go back to where you were and carry on with your life.

Worse failure is better than not trying.