Questioning Why I’m Moving to the Netherlands
Armed with what appeared to be an entire family’s worth of suitcases, I stood waiting for the Ryanair desk to open at the Porto International Terminal.
For anyone who’s flown on Ryanair, you’ll know that it’s infamous for its nickel-and-dime techniques, particularly with luggage. So it was pretty understandable why everyone in line was staring at me quizzically and whispering in different languages presumably about the ridiculous amount of stuff I had for a two-hour flight.
The gate was taking too long to open, and I was starting to get nervous. I was sweating through the straps of my very overweight backpack while pulling at my suitcases that were busting under their own weight. All I wanted to do was to sit down at the airport bar and chug a glass or two of wine.
In the months before, I had told people excitedly of my plans to move to the Netherlands and get my master’s. I was embarking on a new chapter of my life. I was getting to start over in a new place to study something that I’m incredibly passionate about. But in my last four weeks, I started doubting myself. What had I gotten myself into? Why had I decided to move halfway across the world to a place I’ve never been and to immerse myself in a culture that I really knew nothing about? What really had compelled me to make this choice?
I applied to schools in four cities that I’d never been to, but there was something particular about Maastricht that I couldn’t place. Sure, it was an awesome program with potential study abroad opportunities, but there was something more than that. There was some strange pull I had to this place that I had never heard of before. I decided to put my faith in the universe and follow this instinct not knowing exactly where it would lead me.
Now months after making my decision, I found myself beginning to question these motives at the last possible moment–when there was absolutely no turning back. I pulled over to the side of the baggage drop desk and began unpacking my suitcase to fit into my carry-on because I wasn’t keen on the 15€ per kilo on the overweight charge. I thought about overweight charges, and I began weighing the pros-and-cons of missing this flight to buy myself a little more time.
As I bent down, I felt a tap on my shoulder and spun around. Once my eyes had adjusted, I realized it was my friend Luc that I had met the summer before in Uganda. I was still a little unsure if he was real or an apparition. Why else would a friend suddenly appear miraculously the moment that I needed one? Just moments before, the world had felt a little too large for me, but seeing a familiar face was all I needed to remember how small it could be.
I had questioned the universe, and it had actually answered me. Just as I was having doubts and questioning my path, I was provided with a sign of good faith. I was reminded that no matter how vast and unknown the world may seem, it is not daunting. This decision I’ve made to do my master’s abroad makes me nervous and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
If anything, it proves to me that I am on the right path. To do something extraordinary, one must leave the things that we find comfortable. The insecurity I have in my decision is a perfectly natural reaction to moving halfway across the world on a little more than a whim. If I didn’t have any doubts, I’d probably consider myself a little unwell.
I’ve always understood that the cliché “the greater the risk, the greater the reward” to be universally true. I’ve taken a great risk by moving from my home country to the Netherlands, and I’m hoping that this risk I’ve taken will lead to a justifiably greater experience than I could have had in taking an easier route. I don’t know how this year in the Maastricht will turn out, but I have put faith in myself.
Despite my doubts and my fears, I do know that it is exactly where I am meant to be right now.