So much has happened in the week that I really ought to note down my experiences before they overwhelm my capacity to remember anything.
My first few days in Den Haag entailed settling into the area as well my new home – my family have gone to such an effort to make me feel at home and I feel very blessed. I’ll admit however, it was daunting to know that if I stepped out of the front door I could and would get physically lost at any given moment – through my lack of being able to recognise familiar areas and so forth – something I will now never take for granted. Occasionally I experienced an almost unsettling feeling staring out of my window to a row of houses that I was not used to – in a matter of seconds you can feel so insignificant when you realise where you are, however when your sense of ‘home’ is so flexible, this feeling tends to settle quite quickly. If we never made the decision to get lost and explore, then as human beings, we would not advance or discover – a saddening thought.
A couple of days in, I met with an extremely pleasant recruiter, to be told that there wasn’t anything suitable for me as of yet – I’ve already discovered that i’m less ‘business minded’ than majority of people in Den Haag. In my opinion, the sectors tend to favour the financial, I.T or marketing areas. Nonetheless, I will simply extend my search to other cities such as Amsterdam and hope for the best rather than giving up hope already – why bother taking the easy way out when I have come this far? In terms of potential and wonder, Den Haag has heaps and that is something that fills me with joy.
My first job
So a few days in, a close friend of my Aunt’s kindly offered me some work at a cycling event due to be taking place in Belgium (another adventure, why not?!). One of the options was to get a train down over the weekend and work the Sunday shift behind the bar (whilst losing a days work for Saturday), or alternatively I could travel down with the family in the car, staying with them from Thursday through to Monday – when I would get a lift home again. It was a slightly strange and intimidating feeling thinking about travelling for two hours in a car with a family that I had never met, to then stay in their family home for a further 4 days whilst I worked for them. I took the latter option in order to save money and avoid potential hassle that would arise through taking a train in a new place. So, I bit my lip and did it – ‘just think of the money, you need this’ I told myself.
The house was ‘in the middle of nowhere’, yet absolutely breathtaking. It had a very minimalist feel with floor to ceiling glass windows and doors displaying the stunning garden, backing onto a forest. The first night I was left to get to know the teenage boys whilst their parents attended the first parts of the event. In a way, this was great because all boundaries were knocked down – on a human being level, I feel that we communicate more efficiently in a more relaxed environment. However, waking up in the morning in a stranger’s home evoked that intimidating feeling that I had initially experienced. The boys were called to breakfast so I hesitantly followed not knowing if this included the new/strange house guest. In the next room they had set a place for me at the table – I exhaled slowly and remeasured myself that this was all going to be fine.
Over the next few days, I was able to chill and enjoy the family set-up, whilst meeting countless additions to the family over my stay – they were a very welcoming unit and I felt as if I simply slipped in with them, no fuss or frills about it. The Sunday event incurred a 5am get up time which was painful to consider, but necessary. I’d like to just add that I’ve never had a bar job, nor spoken Dutch or Flemish at any point in my life and because of this, I was hesitant to actually consider the reality of the job – instead I pushed it to the back of my head. I ensured that I could at least count to three in dutch (if anyone wanted more than three drinks, good luck to em’) and tried to recollect the words for wine, beer and so on.
Eventually, the 12 hour day ended, which allowed myself to contemplate the fact that I’d just worked behind a bar in a country I’ve never been to in a language that I’ve never spoken – it was a proud moment where I was able to reassure myself, ‘if I maintain this attitude, things will work out’.