How I made one of the best decisions of my life

It was a lovely summer of 2015, my sister just had her first newborn and I was packing to go on the adventure of a lifetime. I was getting ready to leave everything and everyone I know and move abroad – to the Netherlands. Naturally, the night before the flight, I threw a hell of a party to say bye to my friends, marking the end of an era. The morning after was tough, but luckily my flight to the Netherlands was in the afternoon. Seeing the sadness in my parents’ eyes at the security gate required iron will to keep my face, however, once on the plane, I let loose, knowing that things would never be the same going forward.

I arrived and settled in, thinking finding work would be a breeze with my degree, experience and good command of the English language. I could not have been more wrong. My degree was foreign, my experience was limited and knowing English is all fine but not sufficient unless I also spoke German, French, Polish or Chinese as well. Not being Dutch did not help either. So I went to a fancy Dutch language school, spent all my savings and then some – to master this alien language. Apparently, there are more similarities between Dutch and Lithuanian than between Dutch and English. It was a step in the right direction and it sure helped improve my daily life, however, I did not master it enough to speak with confidence in a working environment. A year went by and then another, while I was still doing odd jobs here and there. It was also heartbreaking to be separated from my family, especially my sister.

Thoughts of changing something began to form in my head and I started to question what I really wanted to do with myself and my career. Working in logistics or business management did not feel like the best fit long-term.

At this point, I should mention that even though things were feeling grim in the career direction sense, I was having a good time in my personal life. I was in a happy relationship, living and working in one of the coolest countries in Europe. I love Dutch cities, the openness and respect of the people. I also like the weather, which is slightly milder than back home but saves a lot of money in terms of seasonal clothes. I also had more access and possibilities here than I ever did before. I learned and grew, I met new people and built connections. The only thing missing was the same old sense of direction and purpose. I was nearing thirty and still did not know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.

This is when I decided to study again and make use of the Dutch student loan system before it was too late (no longer available once you hit 30). This time I was thinking less about what I like and more about what is more future-proof and yet still manageable to learn. I wanted to not be stuck in the job hunting phase (which always feels too long, but you don’t want to rush it) ever again.

I chose Fontys University of Applied Sciences as I had already visited it on several occasions and had a good opinion about it. I went with ICT because there were so many success examples in my environment. I could also see that this is where the world is moving towards. Almost every aspect of every job is becoming more and more digitalized and automated. I figured ICT studies in Eindhoven (the same city I was living in) would be interesting. I visited an Open Day event and spoke to the first girl I saw. She was very nice and answered every single question I asked with patience. Even though I had 0 programming knowledge, I was told I could learn it from scratch at the university. Thus, I felt a gush of inspiration and bravery. The next day, I began the application process. I also knew I would need to work next to my studies to be able to afford it. Thus, I found a part-time job that was flexible with the studies (mostly weekends and evenings after classes).

The programme seemed to be very broad and customizable to help discover my own interests and passions. I was able to make my own path by choosing the profile, specialization, minor and even internships in the fields and companies that were interesting to me. Regarding the internships, for the first time, it was me choosing from multiple options. I felt wanted and it was empowering.

Therefore, despite some hindrances along the way, I am very happy I made this journey. It may not be a traditional path (the one we all dream to make right on the first try), but I am proud of it. I have discovered so many new things and built so many connections across countries. It was and still is one of the best experiences I had.

This is my journey to adulthood, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for life.

What was the best decision, you may be left wondering now. Who knows, perhaps the decision to move abroad, perhaps the decision to stay, perhaps the decision to study again or stay with the man I chose. Most likely, all of the above.

By the way, my childhood best friend is a successful lawyer by now and I am no longer intimidated by it. I am genuinely proud and happy for her, as I am sure she is for me.

Thus, if you are in the decision-making phase, whether it is choosing the right exams, what to study or simply looking for a new experience, reach out and we can chat about it. Perhaps I can inspire you to take the adventure of your lifetime?

If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

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