Welcome to Rotterdam!
Well, it's a bit late for a proper welcome, isn't it? 2 full months to be precise! I came to Rotterdam from India about two months ago. All the way across seven continents and seven seas! Okay fine, just one continent and just one sea. But it still feels like more than that. I am sure some of the readers can relate.
In the beginning, everything felt unreal and surreal at the same time. As our orientation guide put it best, it was a "honeymoon period" with the city, the country and everything Dutch. But as this so-called period began to wane, the things I found breath-taking in the first week started feeling mundane. Like taking the same metro, passing the same bridges and the same sky that progressively grew greyer and greyer each week.
I had never experienced autumn or the cold being from a tropical city myself. And the winds, oh my! They could blow me right back home! Under all those layers of newly bought sweaters and jackets and coats and scarves, nothing fit quite right. I constantly felt like an imposter. Someone who wasn't grateful enough for the opportunities that life gave them. I was not supposed to feel this way, it was supposed to be fun and happy and interesting all the time. That's when I realized, who was I kidding? Life is never "supposed" to be a certain way. More often than not things work out in a slightly different way than we wanted. Nevertheless, they do work out.
The sky might have been grey, but without it I couldn't cosy up with coffee and a good book on the weekend. The winds might have been strong, but without them the wind chimes on my window would have been silent. I might not have felt like I fit in, but chances are probably so did everyone else. Those very feelings that make us feel lonely and isolated are also the ones that unite us. Because the fact is that at some point in their life everyone has felt what you are feeling right now. And if everyone has been through what I'm going through, I think I'll make it. And even if I don't, at least I got a good story out of it!
As I continue to discover more about the city and its people every day, I see that there's beauty in routine. There's a certain comfort in knowing which bus takes you home at what time, or in the smile that I share with the cashier when I check out with my groceries every week. It’s like always having an umbrella in your backpack “just in case” it does rain. From honeymoon to routine, the transition might be difficult but that doesn't mean there's no love left between me and Rotterdam.