Four years ago today, on the day of writing this, I moved to Velp. It was my first time moving out, living on my own, in a dorm room, on the other side of the country. I was terrified to say the least. But I was also super excited to tackle a new challenge. I had been to a couple of colleges before but I didn’t like the schools I went to and the studies I took. After two years of struggling with school and one year of working in retail, I realised I wanted to study animal behaviour, but the best school I could find was on the other side of the country. After talking and thinking about it for a while, I decided to take the jump and go for it.
Just before moving out my anxiety got really bad, but I didn’t know what it was. The doctors told me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but none of them addressed my mental state. IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, excess gas, diarrhea or constipation. In hindsight my symptoms weren’t even remotely related to IBS. Dealing with anxiety, while I didn’t know what was ‘wrong’ with me, and also taking a huge jump to live on my own on the other side of the country, made this a terrifying experience.
To be very honest, the first few weeks to a few months in Velp were horrible. I don’t mean to sound like a wuss, but I cried almost every single day. During that time I often felt incredibly anxious to the point where I wouldn’t be able to eat because I would almost immediately throw up. I felt so horrible and so incredibly alone, so far away from my friends and family and everything I was familiar with. On top of that I got stressed out over school papers and assignments, and like every other student I got incredibly stressed about my financial state.
Going through that tough time taught me a lot. Before moving out, I didn’t really like myself. I didn’t hate myself, but I also didn’t appreciate myself. I didn’t think I was worth something. After spending so much time alone, and realising I was actually doing pretty fine, I started to learn how to appreciate myself and spend time with myself. I realised the people around me don’t make or break me, and I’m the only one responsible for my own happiness. I promised myself I’d never depend on other people as much as I used to. And I learned that when RuPaul says “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else” he’s right.
Of course my experience in Velp wasn’t all negative, because if that was the case, I wouldn’t have survived those three years. I made some amazing friendships with some lovely people; Loes and Lotte. Loes was my classmate and Lotte ended up being my housemate. To this day I’m still incredibly close friends with both of them. Loes and I started realtimenature.com together (which is currently on a hold), and Lotte and I are dreaming about our road trip through Europe (which IS going to happen! Mark my words!).
Some friendships proved to be able to endure anything; my friendship with Rochanne. I met Rochanne in the first college I went to, but I’ll save that story for another time. I’ve known her for about 7 years now and even though we rarely got to see each other during my three years in Velp, she really stuck by me. She helped me pull myself out of tough times, she always believed in me, and always encouraged me to be the best version of myself.
Even before deciding to move to Velp, I somewhere deep down always wanted to move away. I wanted to get away from Zeeland, get away from Middelburg, get away from the mindset people have here. I wanted to start over and evolve into the person I wanted to be; not the person people expected me to be.
Being in a new environment, meeting new people, going to school again, living on my own for the first time… In the beginning I felt overwhelmed with ‘firsts’ and new experiences. After a while I started to get used to my surroundings and the experiences that come with it. When I first moved out to Velp, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that 4 years later I would be missing it. That 4 years later, I would feel homesick to a place that took so much effort for me to call home.
Velp, I will always love you. I will always miss you. I will always dream of ways to call you home again.