4 years in the Netherlands – am I finally feeling homesick?

Polzeath

Exploring Polzeath in Cornwall

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced homesickness before (hmmmm… except maybe when I went to Brownie camp when I was about 9 or 10). But since I’ve been living in the Netherlands? Nah! Not at all. Missing my family and friends, yes. Missing English pubs, definitely. English food in general, hell yes. But yearning to be in the UK. Never.

In case you haven’t noticed… I love Holland and I love living here. My 4 year expativersary (gasp!) was a couple of weeks ago and I also won an Expat blogger award last month!! Massive thanks again to everyone who voted! ๐Ÿ™‚ But on a recent trip to the UK, I realised I actually missed it.

My Finnish friend, Senja, and I went over for the weekend for work and it made me see England with fresh eyes. She giggled at actually being able to wash your hands with hot water in bathrooms (in Holland they often only have a cold tap), she marvelled at the trees and all the greenery whilst we were on the train, and she was super-impressed by all the hills!

On said train – we were both beaming after the ticket inspector had been along to check our tickets. His enthusiasm and gorgeous English accent was infectious: “Good afternoon lovely people, please can I check your tickets on this fine day?” then each person got a different response for handing over their ticket: “Thanking you, cheers, much obliged, ta, thanks, excellent…”.

He really made a thing out of NOT saying the standard “thank you”, it was so cute.

I love my mother tongue and this was a perfect example of why. You can be so creative because we have so many words for everything. My inner geek was brimming with joy!

Then there was the food.

I introduced Senja to the delights of Scotch Eggs and proper British cider… not that Apple Bandit crap we get in the Netherlands!! (Where is that even made?)

We went to a typical English pub along one of the canals in Oxford and feasted on proper English pub grub.

Oh… and the people… *swoon*! It wasn’t just the train inspector who made me miss home. All of the people in the cafes, pubs and shops we went to were all so friendly and welcoming. I forgot what customer service was actually supposed to be like.

Since that visit, I hadn’t been ‘home’ for 5 months – since just before Christmas. That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from the UK. Normally I go back every 2 months or so, but for a variety of reasons (including not having a passport plus other trips we had planned etc) it just didn’t happen. And I’m not sure it was good for me. I’ve been pining.

In a way, I’m glad I was away for that amount of time because it’s given me the chance to realise and appreciate that I do miss my home country. Quirks ‘n’ all.

I’ve really missed my friends and family too. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s just not the same… there’s something about meeting face-to-face and there’s also something about talking to people you have known all your life.

I have some great friends here in NL, I really do. I’m lucky. But there is something different about friends you have known for 3-4 years and people you have known 20+ years. The history, the gags, the nicknames, the days before Facebook and smartphones. We knew each other before all of that. Remember when you used to call each other’s house phones? Or a REALLY long time ago… knock on their front door!?

I miss those people. The people who know who I really am. Before I was a blogger and an expat. Just Hayley. Not Hayley, the one who moved abroad…

I realise that this isn’t one of my most structured or elegant posts (no shit Sherlock) and that it’s got a bit rambly so I’m wrapping it up now. I think I needed to write this for me, to acknowledge this feeling, and if anyone enjoys reading it then I’m glad I posted it here and not just in my diary ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m an expat who loves living in Holland. But I also love the UK. The eternal expat dilemma right…?

Luckily for me, in a couple of weeks I’m going ‘home’ for 16 whole days… and I can’t bloody wait!!

Have you ever been homesick? If so, how do you deal with it?

Hayley x

 

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39 comments

  1. Hi Hayley, A bit off topic but I’m Dutch and fully understand the Cider issue. I love Cider but not the over sweet stuff they sell as Cider over here. There is 1 exception to the rule though and this is Beer Cider (as in Bear not Beer), made in Beerze in Overijssel and it is really good. You might want to give it a try. Never been Homesick but the longest I was abroad was 9 months so not really comparable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janneke, thanks for your comment! I’m always happy to talk about cider! ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s funny you mention that because I actually tried it on Sunday. I spotted it on the menu at Beers & Barrels in Utrecht and HAD to try it. Not a fan though… sorry ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      Like

  2. I loved Ireland to pieces, but after nearly a month away, I was aching to see my mom! I called, I emailed, I blogged, but it’s just not the same!

    I was so anxious to get back that I told practically the entire plane on my commuter flight back to Michigan, so as soon as we landed in Detroit and the attendant opened the door, he was like, “GO!”

    Me? “(*runs up the jetway*) THAAAAANK YOOOOOU!” (gigglefit)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes. I went though a similar thing also around the 3/4 year mark. A few expats I know did too. I don’t know if that is just a coincidence or if there is a scientific reason for it taking roughly the same time ๐Ÿ˜€

    I almost left Holland to go back to the UK when it happened to me. Eventually I got over the homesickness (or in my case it was not enjoying the Netherlands at the time) but you don’t want to do it the way I did. I broke my ankle and realized that if I could survive NL on crutches I could survive it under normal circumstances. Then I started enjoying living here again and never looked back since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that is weird that it’s happened to other expats around the same time. I really thought it was just being away for 5 months in my case, but who knows…

      Ha ha, thanks. Hopefully no broken bones for me and I can figure it out in a less painful manner ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

  4. Myself and my family lived in Hilversum all of last year due to my partners job which moved him back to London again the end of the year. After the initial honeymoon period of everything being new and exciting the homesickness did kick in. Missed things like my family (obviously) English food (i have no love for NL bacon); British politeness (even when we donโ€™t mean it) , all the green, Christmas was completely weird.
    Im not saying I didnโ€™t like everything/one over there because I did, and now weโ€™re back I find myself missing it there too.. Especially Mout ๐Ÿ˜†

    Everyoneโ€™s different I suppose. Its amazing itโ€™s taken you so long to feel you do miss home but it maybe as your friend put it youโ€™re just missing the past rather than the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lizzy, thanks for your comment. I love Mout – in fact I’m here right now!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Not kidding!

      Oh… Bradley… he doesn’t half spout some shit. Haha. I’m not sure, it could be that *as well* but I definitely miss England. I think the language thing is quite a biggie too tbh. I do speak Dutch, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. I speak it kinda out of necessity. I love coming ‘home’ and being able to say everything I want to say without stumbling on words or not being able to find the right one.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment and hope you’re enjoying London ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  5. I’ve been living in the Netherlands for 4 years too…and have been desperately homesick for most of those 4 years. I moved here with my Dutch husband and 3 half-Dutch kids. I’ve followed your blog and been impressed with your positivity at living in NL. After immigrating here thinking for the rest of my life… I am now grabbing my husband and kids and getting outta here asap! 4 years of dealing with the IND and non EU spouse discrimination like inburgeren, including an education system completely neglectful of immigrant children. I’ll happily say a big Tot Ziens. I really enjoy reading your blog and hope you can beat the homesickness

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Failed expat, thanks for your comment.

      I HATE Monty Python, but always look on the bright side of life… and all that jazz ๐Ÿ™‚ Funnily enough, I used to be quite a negative person but I think being in a new place forced me to try and look positively at everything.

      The Netherlands isn’t for everyone I guess. I think my personal plan of action is just to visit the UK more, every 2 months or so like I used to. We’ll see what happens. Good luck with your move back home ๐Ÿ™‚ en tot ziens.

      Like

  6. I’ve been over here 22 years now and only ever get homesick when I’ve been back home….but when I get it, it really hurts. I usually end up going between moping around and bawling my eyes out for a couple of weeks. Then all of a sudden, it’s over……..until the next trip ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Hayley, this is such a coincidence as I was planning on writing a similar blog post on my website soon but then of course the other way round! I’ve been living in the UK for over 6 years now and I go back to NL quite frequently (every 2-3 months) so I don’t really feel homesick as I see my friends and family quite often. However, I do miss being able spontaneously go see my best friend for ‘een kopje thee en lekker bijkletsen’. When the sun starts to come out of winter hiding again like now, I wish I could go ‘een terrasje pikken’ with friends. There are hardly any nice terrasjes here and I miss good pilsjes van de tap! ;-D

    However, during my last two trips in the last two months, I’ve come back home rather confused and a bit sad. I realise that it’s because of Brexit I’m starting to reflect on my live first in NL and now in the UK. Before Brexit was an issue, I had no reason to start thinking about here and there as travelling between them was so easy for me. Now I’m starting to compare the countries and people and unfortunately NL is ‘winning’ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Walking through towns and cities in NL, I notice how well-kept people’s homes and gardens are. Here I only see mattresses and other broken furniture dumped in the streets. Watching breakfast on TV in the Netherlands last week I switched from a Dutch channel to the BBC News and I immediately noticed how conservative the studio and the presenters on BBC News were compared to the Dutch news. These are just two little examples. Overall I’m feeling a bit lost now to be honest. I feel like I will have to choose between two countries now and lost my sense of ‘home’. The Dutch government doesn’t seem to give a damn about Dutchies caught up in Brexit and I also see that live in NL isn’t all that perfect either. But then again, I’m now very well aware of the fact that I’m a foreigner here in the UK and feel rather ‘ongewenst’. As I said, I’m very confused ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Last thing: I had to laugh about what you said about bathroom taps. I’m always utterly bewildered when I see separate hot and cold water taps in the UK. You either have to choose to burn your hands by using very hot water or get freezing cold hands by using only the cold water tap (either way it’s very unpleasant to wash your face in the sink :-))

    Sorry for this very long response by the way!
    Enjoy your time back home soon ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dutch Girl in London, thanks for your comment and sorry to hear you’re feeling confused about everything. Being an expat is confusing enough in general!

      Completely agree about the spontaneity aspect, but I’m lucky I can still do that with my friends who live in NL. On visits to the UK everything has to be so planned and rigidly structured so we can fit everyone in! That is kinda annoying.

      Good luck with your decision and if you want to chat more you know where I am. Feel free to send me an email or a message on Insta ๐Ÿ™‚ Succes! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your support ๐Ÿ™‚ I think Iโ€™ll be fine but itโ€™s just stupid how politics can suddenly have such a huge impact on peopleโ€™s lives.
        I quite like planning my trips back to NL though because people now really make an effort to see me which makes me feel very loved and important, haha ๐Ÿคฃ

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Hayley,

    Thank you for not just leaving this in your diary!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog as I recognize the feeling very well.
    I am Dutch but have been living in Australia for nearly 9 years. I love Australia, love my life, lifestyle and fiance but I do miss the Netherlands.
    Not so much the weather haha but the traditions, the little pubs, getting around on a bike everywhere, Kingsday, etc..
    And mainly my family and those 20+ year friends you are talking about!
    Not everyone understands, so it is nice to hear someone experiences the same feeling ๐Ÿ˜Š
    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Claudia. I struggle a bit with personal posts as I’m really not the type to be all me, me, me. I hate that, so I try not to do it. But sometimes all you have is your personal opinion… so I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Maybe this will make me a bit braver about writing the odd personal post here and there.

      I think every expat is going to experience these feelings at some point, it’s inevitable right…

      Thanks again for reading and for your lovely comment ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  9. I absolutely loved this blog post. It makes me realise that I’m not alone! Even though I feel like it sometimes in Enkhuizen (not many expats make it up this far north!)

    I can’t help but smile when I’m travelling through the English countryside after my plane lands. English pubs, friends and family and just the warm friendly culture sings to me when I visit the U.K. I find that the ‘gezelligheid’ culture in the Netherlands is too clean, too organised and formal. Why can’t the two places merge more!!

    It gets me thinking, what are my long term plans for living here? Which side do I prefer? I’m sure you’ve had these thoughts too!

    Thanks! All the best with your homesickness feelings!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lauren, ha ha – I bet!

      Maybe we’re actually just lucky as we get to experience two cultures. If I did ever move back to the UK I’d miss Holland too, so I’m not really sure there is a clear cut answer.

      I sure have. Good luck with your decision / homesickness too! And thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  10. Hi! me too! I am Dutch, but live in the US and there is this ‘I want to go home’ feeling that never goes away, no matter how many fun things I do. But I miss the Netherlands a lot, even though here in Louisiana we have summer for the most part of the year and I really hate Dutch winters. I am just tired of skyping with a 7 hour time difference and look so much forward to face-to-face contact with my old friends and my family! keeping up via text messages is hard. I would say just visit as often as possible! I don’t have the option to do so but I think it would help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dorien, yes, I can imagine it’s a bit harder when it’s US – NL!! I bet the plane tickets alone cost a bomb. England is a lot closer obviously and I also work for an English company, so I have to go back a few times a year for work – so I can always tag on an extra day or two to see family & friends, so that helps! My plan is definitely to try and go back more often.

      Good luck with your homesickness and I hope it works out for you. Thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  11. If I went back to the UK every 2 months i’d go crazy haha! As much as I love visiting family back home, i’d do always actually get a little home sick of missing NL and my own place!

    I’m living in the Netherlands for nearly 7 years and I don’t feel that homesick that much, depends on the birthdays and celebrations I may be missing out on.

    But when I do go back (usually once or twice a year) I always put on weight as I’m stuffing my face at those typical pubs, eating all the food and chedder and drinking those ciders for sure!!

    Lovely read btw! I have a nice post about 13 ways to help with homesickness when abroad, maybe theres a good tip on there for you ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi there, thanks for this post. I have only been here for about 8 months with my wife and though true homesickness has not yet set in, and since my previous home is the sh#7 show that is the U.S., I don’t foresee it happening in large doses any time soon…that said, I did find myself ugly crying at work the other day when John Denver popped up in my playlist. Hmmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m Dutch, married to an American and since my marriage ages ago ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have not lived again in the Netherlands. We both have been expats living in 7 or 8 foreign countries, and I have to say I have never been homesick. I always love(d) going back home and see family and buy stuff and take a breath of clean fresh air (not to be had in the tropics). What did happen when I lived in the US for an extended time in between other countries, was that I felt “travelsick” meaning I couldn’t wait to go live somewhere else again. And we did, and again, and again. I’m always happy to go ‘home’ again, but….home isn’t really there anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Iโ€™m a 100 percent Dutch but youโ€™ve just summed up many of the things I love about the UK. Dutch also has fewer words in general , so even native speakers like me are much more limited compared to Brits. I need to go to the UK at least once a year, luckily my British collegue provides plenty of banter and innuendo all year round.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I totally understand your feelings, I am from the Netherlands and moved to the UK four years ago, due to family circumstances I moved back to the Netherlands, it was nice being home again and meet my old friends, yet within months I started missing the UK so badly, never knew what Great Britain really ment to me until I left the country.
    Itโ€™s everything that Britain has which we wonโ€™t find in the Netherlands, starting from the friendly and polite manners, the British humour, the lovely people you meet at the British pubs and the beautiful parks and nature and and… where do I stop….The Netherlands is not a bad place at all but it can be dull sometimes, and the brutally honest way of the Dutch is something you need to get used to if youโ€™re from Britain.
    Each person who immigrated to countries like UK, The Netherlands or Belguim will experience life from different angle.
    If you want my opinion ? Here is what I think of UK and NL…. If youโ€™re are young (under 70 still) and want to enjoy life to the fullest then UK is definitely the place to be, going out in London is more fun and adventure then in Amsterdam (also more expensive) And if youโ€™re over the 70, and want to take it easy in life due to disability or health conditions then the Netherlands will take good care of you offering better health services and easier access to public transportations. Certain things are simply better organised in the Netherlands.

    Homesick is not only missing your hometown, family and friends, homesick is missing the place where you belong, itโ€™s the place where you feel strong connection with the people you see around you and the environment.
    I hope you will be in the place where you feel home filled with happiness and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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