There are places that I have never thought of visiting, even less to be able to call it home; this is until I found my paradise, which is called Rotterdam.
How did I end up here?! Easy answer: love for myself and for a man. Yes, because my will to escape the beautiful but "small" Sicily was perfectly aligned with that feeling and the attempt to build something new for me and for the relationship back then so I packed my luggage, umbrella, dictionary and I moved to the Netherlands.
No, it's not all easy there, you have to deal with the language and its strange sounds, the tough weather and the food (as an Italian, good food is a very important matter!), but once you overcome the first obstacles, and having a good basic English skills, and warm clothes, you will find yourself biking while holding your umbrella, like you've always been in this place! This is because in Rotterdam (alright, it happens everywhere in the Netherlands), the easiest way to move around is by "fiets" (meaning bike in Dutch)
There are so many things to see in the city, from the most famous ones such as the Cubic Houses and the Markhtal, to the beautiful Erasmus Bridge, passing from the Oude Haven (Old Harbour) and the city centre the Beurs. What made this city the paradise to me is the combination of cultures, architecture, parks in the city centre, zoo, museums and history.
Rotterdam has a lot of history and it's all there, you can see it just by wandering through the city, the old that survived to the II World War, and new they both live together in an apparently disorder and extraordinary armony!
What stroke me the most? It's what Rotterdam can offer, thanks to its soul of a metropolitan city enclosed in 319km². Further more, all the people living there, the feeling of being part of a new family met by chance during an Expat Event or while looking for a new apartment through Facebook pages and social networks. Everybody who wants to share his experience or provide useful advice to the "Expat wanna be" very often use the social networks, such as "Expats in Rotterdam", "Italians (or French, Germans, etc.) in Rotterdam" you might want to give it a try.
Looking for a job in 2013 was a bit easier than nowadays, anyway my advice is to learn at least English before going into this adventure. Once you've done that, you can download the Undutchables app to be up to date on new job opportunities, which you can filter by city or primary language remember to be patient and you need a lot of enthusiasm to be back into the game. From my personal experience, I have worked in IT with 2 different companies and I have learned a lot.
From the administrational side, I remember how efficient and fast is the bureaucracy for things such as registration at the municipality, open a bank account and receiving the health insurance card. I think I did everything in 3 hours and 1 appointment, as I knew in advance all the documents needed thanks to the call I had before going to the office.
I'll tell you more (and hopefully soon) why I moved back to Italy, how much I miss Rotterdam and my project to be back there.
Doe doe (ciao ciao)