Real experiences: Transition, Hairloss, and New Beginnings in The Netherlands - Part 2

I recently read a book written by two expats about having children in the Netherlands; The book demonstrates so many positive outcomes and differences between American/British children and the Dutch children. This book has helped me to understand the Dutch mindset regarding child rearing and culture. They provide a sneak peek into customs and culture; daily life and nuances, contrasting and comparing to provide more clarity and light into my new home country. I found this book enlightening with multiple A-HA moments that I could relate to.

Now, in 2019, after two years of resistance, hairloss and a bit of chaos, my world and home seem sweeter than ever. I am grateful for seeing the daffodils and tulips pop up in spring, and relish the signs of summer and fall to come. Sunnier days are head nonetheless, regardless of the current complaint of the Dutch weather! Fortunately, I have had a mix of visiting friends and family with some even moving to nearby countries! My inner questions and hair issues have now resolved with full regrowth, and I have come to love the Netherlands and appreciate my little town for all it is and for the organic lifestyle it offers.

Zwolle is just what I needed; a different perspective, a calming, peaceful environment and quietness to strategize and make life changing decisions. I came to the Netherlands on a spousal visa which can create outside challenges like obtaining work a bit more difficult. Sometimes though, the medicine we most need, is counter to what we believe, until you begin to feel better, and then suddenly the flavors, sights and sounds all bear a different experience. I came to realize that the expectations of myself were too demanding and that adjusting and learning does take time. Its not overnight you find your doctor, your yoga studio, your tribe or your dentist. It also took me a year to find a hairdresser, and a few trials before I found my local favorite coffee shop which serves the best matcha latte’s. Discovering and exploring my new town and country has taken time but I continue to enjoy it more and more, appreciating the organized rapid transportation, and the many other traits and perks where the Dutch excel.

Lots of learning curves for me; I didn’t know I needed vitamin D or wool socks in winter. Being a California native, having lived in Miami and Brazil, winter and the weather itself was a hurdle, but my second winter didn’t seem so bad as the first. Learning to be present, also gave me a mindset shift, in forcing me to enjoy the NOW, enjoying and embracing what is, as perhaps we could possibly move again and not have the different seasons as we experience them here.

“Bloom where you are planted” ~ is a saying I’ve heard many times. Being curious, discovering resources for expats and being determined have helped me obtain and make life more whole and meaningful as before; keeping regular activities allows you to flow into life and enjoy it more thoroughly as before the move; from taking ceramics class to salsa dancing, pilates, and attending theatre performances. Getting into a routine helps one get back to normality; feeling more at home, exactly where you are.

Out of all my transitions, moves and travels to more than 60+ countries, I believe that mindset is what can hold you back or propel you further. Fear can hold you back; and perhaps it's not fear but grief for missing the community, friendships and ease of prior life, versus having to relearn, rethink and succumb to new protocols, and new ways of life. Now that all the queries in my head have subsided, my productive side and business have kicked in and grown as much as my hair and more; I have not only found a new place to call home, but have managed to build a community of health and wellness within my little town, and abroad. I host workshops and have started obtaining certifications for both yoga and pilates instruction. For the Entrepreneur, type "A" personality in me, logistics are easy; it’s the integration and true community that determines success: belonging and creating memories with people to share with; thriving and becoming a better version of yourself. Effort in, results out. Just like the flowers of spring, I too, can now see the blooming of new friendships, business ventures and optimism in my decision to live in The Netherlands.

Outside of mindset, taking action is the next step. Massive action to get acclimated, situated and feeling more like home. Having had moved here for my husband’s profession, I grappled with other nuances regarding his work and its limitations. It was all new to me, the marriage, the move, the boxed-in feeling, the alopecia and within the constraints I too learned to find my wings and stay independent as this is key for me thriving.

Yes there were frustrations, moments of tears and wanting to have all the answers. Getting married here seemed impossible, finding work is also a challenge but I have always learned to create work arounds and creative solutions. As a professional event planner having had worked for numerous Fortune 100 companies including Apple; being nimble and resourceful are some of my key attributes. There is always more than one way to reach a goal and solution! The list goes on of pet peeves and roadblocks, but let's focus on the positives and how we can create balance, take the good and create solutions to the long list of roadblocks we need to overcome and simply accept at times. There are many upsides of living here, enabling you to create and curate a life you want, working on my own companies and projects, instead of looking for a job, reducing my commute and embracing the balance of work and life, which the Dutch do very well! This has allowed me to excel in new areas, and grow further in my career and landscape. Just like a bow and arrow, at times you need to pull back to launch forward. Nothing grows in comfort. We actually stagnate in comfort. Pressing on, having the courage to do so, and having a wonderful partner by my side makes a world of difference and without his love and support it would have been more difficult for sure. Comparisons are normal, nothing is like home and nothing compares to my new home. It’s all a matter of adjusting. Mind set and the way in which we view situations can alter our perspective and understanding. Adjusting, curating and thriving just where you are, in your journey to your best life with optimism and resiliency is part of my goal for success in the Netherlands and beyond. My hope is you do the same and find inspiration wherever you go.

Read Part 1 of this article

Johanna Dahlman is the Founder of Alopecia Angel which helps adults and children reverse and heal their alopecia and hairloss. Johanna is also a professional corporate and social event planner. She coordinates and hosts meetings, events, retreats and workshops all over the globe. She is vibrant and happy to connect with locals and expats alike. She is obtaining her certification in yoga and pilates, loves to travel and create memorable experiences. In Zwolle, you can find her watching live Landstede Basketball Games or hosting Boston University Alumni Events across Amsterdam or Rotterdam. You can connect with her directly on Instagram @johannadahlman

Work experience
Sign me up for the Undutchables newsletter and keep me up to date!

Always up to date to find your dream job!

We only need a few personal details, thanks!

Work experience