Untill I was 18 I lived with my parents in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, where I was born.
I never felt I belonged, and felt suffocated there. As soon as I could, I left the nest.
Before I turned 40 I moved more then 15 times within the Netherlands.
Around my 40th birthday I bought my first house, in Haarlem, the Netherlands. I am still very happy to live there. It really feels like home.
|My lovely house in Haarlem, the Netherlands.|
|My sweet, old cat Guust, that I have to leave behind all the time. Fortunately I have good care for him while I’m far away.|
|I live in a nice street. Once a year we have a street party; very cosy. The lady with the red tunic and white Tshirt is my friend Greetje, owner of the blog No Fear of Fashion. She is not only a great friend, but also a very colorful and funny lady. Just look at her blog and you will see.|
But international things keep unexpectedly popping up.
|A lot of packing my bags.|
|Jetlags and farewells.|
First I met a Quebecois in Argentina. We lived together for 6 years; half of the year in Montreal, Canada, and the other half in Haarlem.
Then I met my husband. In Holland, a Dutch guy, who after 4 years got a job in Singapore.
That is now 4 years ago and since then I live half of the year in Singapore and the other half in Haarlem. The last year my Singapore months were mainly spent in India though.
|In the middle we see The Sail, our condo in Singapore. We live on the 28th floor.|
A cosmopolitan lifestyle requires a certain effort and skills to maintain friendships and to make new ones in new places.
Which ways, skills and tools would I advice?
1. Use tech toys like iPhone, iPad, MacBook, social media and lots of apps.
|In hotelroom Goa, India|
|In hotel Delhi, India|
Via these media I keep contact with friends and family wherever I am. Like with these dear friends in Holland.
|My friend Luus is an illustrator. I love her work. You can get a small impression here.|
2. Don’t forget ‘snailmail’.
I don’t only write emails; I also write old-fashioned, customised postcards. Rare nowadays, but I love it! And people are thrilled to receive one. Although sometimes my cards from India take 4 weeks to arrive in Holland!
3. Make use of free facilities like Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp and FaceBook. I use them a lot. Not only to keep in touch, but also to meet new people.
I found my friend Sylvia via FaceBook, my friend Sabine via Flickr and the doggy Bertje and his owner via Instagram.
|My Dutch friend Sylvia, living in Singapore, runs a successful fashion blog: 40plusstyle.
Regularly we go for lunch plus fashion shoot with each other as models;-)
|Posing for Sylvia’s blog.|
|I love Bertje’s Instagram pictures.. Especially the comments of Vera, his owner, are hilarious. I discovered them while I was in India, contacted her, and met the both of them when back in Haarlem. Yes, they live in the same city as me;-).|
4. Start a blog about your daily life.
My blogs are a great way to share and keep my beloved ones posted. The feedback they give me is, that they feel as if they are traveling with me;-).
My blog was picked up at a certain moment by a Singaporean telco, that was starting a website for expats. They were looking for writers to deliver content and to go to their sponsored events. I became one of the first group of writers. I have to admit that in the end, my contribution was marginal and minimal, but it was fun to see my face in ads in magazines and bus stands.
|Check out the site here.|
5. Try to connect via your passion or hobby.
Very helpful is my passion for tango. I dance, DJ and teach wherever I am and can and it brings me in contact with many people. Some of whom become great friends.
|Monthly DJing in Abrazos, Singapore|
|DJing in Meijer aan Zee, Zandvoort, Netherlands|
|Halloween at Abrazos tangoclub in Singapore.|
|I met Rosamund in the tango scene in Singapore. We became good friends.|
|Kitu, in the middle, organiser of the CCC salon in Mumbai, became a friend after we met through tango.|
|Kitu( in the middle), Yvonne, a dutch friend, and I together in Mumbai.|
|Dancing in Pune|
|Dancing with Shashank in Pune|
|I met Leonie and Maria through the tango in Pune and we became friends.|
|DJ meets DJ, in Bangalore, India.|
6. Live with an open, interested and curious mindset.
Some people became friends after meeting them in unexpected ways. Celeste I met in the elevator of my condo. She had the cutest puppie in the universe and offered me to become his godmother. Our friendship is very dear to me.
|Celeste and the young Cash.|
|Celeste and the grown up Cash. She owns a company called HeelsDiva. They sell the most gorgeous shoe accessories.|
In India I became friends with a girl that used to work in the restaurant of our hotel. After she quit that job our friendship developed. A very special girl!
|Pooja in the restaurant of the Westin Hotel in Pune|
|Giving Pooja a tango-lesson|
|Pooja with Frits and me.|
7. Stimulate friends to come over to visit you or to travel together with you.
Some people that live abroad complain about friends and family that want to visit. It can be very nice, but since most people want to stay in your house, stay at least for some weeks and want to ‘be entertained’ by you, it can be very tiring as well.
We, on the other hand, have not had many visitors. Singapore is far away, the plane tickets are expensive and our flat is too small for guests. But we were very happy with the ones that DID come over. It is just wonderful to show them around. And so nice to share your life and your world over there!
|Erik and his son Marc came over from Holland.|
|My friend Hanneke came over with her family. That was so cool!|
8. Look into colleagues (from your job or from your husbands job).
Maybe there is friendship potential in there. Or in their wives, family or friends.
I have no job. And Frits colleagues are often men or people with children. They are not necessarily waiting for new friends. So in our case, we do meet up here and there, but no real friendships have come out so far.
|Frits’ Indian colleague Kunal|
9. Don’t forget to keep up with their lives as well.
Just because you are the one that went/goes away and that leads this exotic lifestyle, that does not mean that only your life is worth sharing and following. So try not to be so absorbed by all your new experiences, that you forget to live along with the lives of the ones that you left behind. Stay interested, caring and loving, also from a distance.
10. Advice from my readers
What would be your best advice on this subject? Let me know via a comment. I would love to hear from you!