18 Jul 2024
The art of landing gently
Expat Support Health Mental health

The art of landing gently

If you have the misfortune of landing on the Polderbaan at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, it will take at least another 20 minutes of taxiing before you truly arrive at the terminal. If you’re not prepared, those twenty minutes can feel incredibly frustrating; landed but not yet arrived. And in the same way, I may have proverbially ‘landed’ in Sweden back in December, but the arrivals terminal still seems very far away.

Looking back on previous country moves, I know that it takes at least four seasons to feel you have truly arrived. And while I write those words, I feel the impatience for wanting to get there sooner, bubbling away below the surface.

Rather than get frustrated by the feeling of still taxiing towards my proper arrival ‘back’ in Sweden, I try to enjoy the slower ride. But patience is a virtue. High expectations combined with a lack of patience, make for an exhausting cocktail. While I know from experience that there is an indeterminate time lag between landing and arriving, this ‘second time around’ arrival has confused me into underestimating the energy it takes.

Driving down the 222 to take Ody to the same wonderful dogpark on Södermalm where I used to take our old dog, takes no energy bandwidth at all. But the three hours of working through all the admin relating to my new apartment does! I’m impatient to revisit all my favourite haunts and reconnect with old friends, but my energy is limited, and I forget how many new impressions I’m processing and how much adjusting I am still doing. Everything that was known and predictable about life back in Amsterdam, is now up in the air and – because of that – also open to revision. The trick is to take my time to explore what to maintain and what to leave behind, in the same way I went through all my cupboards and only brought with me what I wanted to have here in my new home.

And, building on that analogy, still finding some things just don’t work here, and new pieces of furniture and wall art needs to be sourced. There is no rush, and yet, when I walk into my living room, I see all that still needs to come together, rather than everything I have already achieved.

And the thing with arriving, like sitting in that taxiing airplane, is that so much of the result of the to-do lists you are working through, remain invisible, until the Wi-Fi stops working, or the electrical company cuts you off. Letters from the Dutch and the Swedish authorities fill up my letterbox. The rounding from one life flows into the building up of another.

Ah, I had forgotten how intensive this process to arrival is. Like childbirth perhaps, you repress the stress of each relocation and happily, naively, embark on the next! But my batteries are still depleted, and I forget how long it takes to recharge them!

The first weeks after landing here I really did listen to my body, to the exhaustion of my 12-month solo relocation adventure. For the first weeks, still living in my temporary accommodation, I did little more than sleeping, walking the dog, eating, and socialising with my son and his family. Then the time came for moving into my new home. And my granddaughter was born healthy and happily. And friends began to reach out. And, and…. I crash-landed, well on my way to feeling totally empty and depleted. 

So now I try to be patient and let each day unfold as it will. I schedule in slow days on the sofa with a good book to recharge my batteries. I see my online clients but tell myself that all those other plans for podcasts and workshops will happen in their own good time.

I will do my best to embrace the beauty in this slow taxiing towards the arrivals gate. Even if it takes four seasons. I know that soon enough I will be feeling more settled, the admin will become the normal everyday admin of my new life, and I will have found a new inner rhythm.

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Lysanne Sizoo, international Mental Health specialist

Mental Health International

With over two decades of experience, Lysanne Sizoo specializes in assisting expatriates, international professionals, and global nomads facing mental health challenges. Her professional journey has taken her to the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. While her practice is set to relocate to Stockholm by the end of 2024, she continues to serve a diverse clientele through online consultations.

Living away from one’s native country comes with its unique set of psychological hurdles, alongside the everyday ups and downs of life. This holds true for global nomads, cross-cultural adults, and children alike.

In the upcoming months, Lysanne will share her insights through blog articles and by addressing readers’ concerns. She will also chronicle her personal journey as she returns to Sweden after a decade in her home country.

If you have specific topics or issues that you’d like Lysanne to explore in her articles, please reach out via the contact form on this website or directly through her personal website. Rest assured, your privacy and confidentiality will be upheld.

Lysanne Sizoo

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