Real experiences: Stepping our of the comfort zone? | Undutchables

Real experiences: Stepping out of the comfort zone? Get ready for challenges!

Categorie: Guest article

The day I received the news of getting scholarship to pursue a research masters in the Netherlands was a blend of emotions and happiness. Soon the documentations and preparations started and everything went smooth. I was anxiously waiting for the day to land on the ‘Land of Giants’, the only thing I knew about the Netherlands at that time. However, next to delight there was also a slight fear of facing unprecedented challenges.

Starting career in a country with 180shift in terms of personal, societal and cultural aspects was not just a piece of cake. Raised in an Asian family where parents carry all responsibilities, I was a person whose only job was to study and not to worry about anything else. Contrarily, in a foreign country, I had to take care of all; studying, groceries, laundry, cooking and an endless list of tasks. But, it is almost two years I am in the Netherlands and things have become much easier than they used to be. While looking back, I see the days which were very hard to get through. I suffered stress due to home sickness, knowledge gaps and lack of self-confidence. These issues persisted for quite some time and it was an ‘every day’ struggle of adapting to dissimilarities.

Nevertheless, while talking about the odds, it is worth mentioning the facets which helped improve my confidence and made me learn from. I witnessed from the very first day the kindliness and helpfulness of the Dutch. Other things to be inspired with were passing smile and giving respect even to strangers. Freedom of going out with safety was also appreciable. In addition to these optimistic approaches, a list of adventures including bouldering and ice skating tried for the very first time in an attempt to step out of the comfort zone were amazing. Besides, I met people with different nationalities, shared our uniqueness and became friends with. In fact, having multicultural friends is important to combat the situation when you find no Dutch peep to hang out with.


In general, expats are home sick, have disparate background in terms of knowledge, culture and values which sometimes lead to inadequate self-confidence, and financial concerns. However, during a two-year span what I have experienced is crucial to share with the readers. The following suggestions when acted upon made my life easier and might also be useful for most of the expats if not all. From the so far learning, I have perceived that along with real hardships, there are other stress factors which accumulate just because of the self-generated thoughts while comparing ourselves with others and doubting our own capabilities. It is quite natural to get inspired with Homo sapiens around but avoid turning this inspiration into torture thinking that ‘you’ are worthless. As, my friend once gave me a very nice explanation; “there is no point in comparing yourself with others because everyone has a different background, circumstances, possibilities and opportunities in life. A better option is to compare your present with what you were yesterday that how much you have made yourself better and positive”. It always requires some time and is not very easy to get rid of such feelings all at once. But once they are gone, it is such a relief because you start enjoying peace of mind. Therefore, it is important to confront these self-damaging notions as early as possible.

Moreover, try to step out of your comfort zone and accept the challenges you have not dared before. It boosts your confidence up and also gives you the chance to enjoy and realize that things are not the way you were thinking about them before. Do not think bad about anyone even if you feel their negativity. Because, you never know what is going on the other side. Greet passersby with a smile as it spreads positivity. Try to initiate good things by yourself and do not wait for others to take a first step. Be the initiator. Learn to appreciate since admiration holds the same importance as constructive criticism has. Last but not the least is to help others out whenever possible and do not expect anything in return.

While comparing the past with the present, I realize improvements in myself as a whole. Though sometimes, I still feel my confidence lost however, it is just two years in a country which is entirely different in almost every aspect and filled with people with contrasting backgrounds. I have to explore new horizons and learn from by challenging myself. I still need to overcome the remaining fears of stepping out of the comfort zone. As, the real struggle is to address these inside fears otherwise the rest is fine. This is what I am pretty confident about!

Article by Sidra Kashif

Being an expat brings many hardships along which sometimes seem very difficult to deal with. However, optimism and support of the loved ones make it easier to bear the burden, and with patience comes the strength.

Sidra Kashif

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