Lifestyle

 

 

“If I still have a good health and enough courage, why not” – 3 Stories of Moving Country

 

“On September 27th I decided to relocate to the Netherlands for ever because I liked it a lot more than England. On the 5th December I’ll be returning back to England for a few weeks to re-evaluate things and reorganise project Sophia Moves to the Netherlands. In retrospect my decision was rash. Do I regret it? Hell no! I have learned a lot about me, what it feels like to be an immigrant and about how nothing is ever as easy as you think it will be.

This journey inspired me to ask a few other people a series of questions about moving country and I thought I’d let you read their responses and give you my own responses. Perhaps I inspire you, perhaps I help you understand immigrants in your country a bit more or maybe I just entertain you, either way, here is my latest offering.

Sliman Kacioui

sliman

Sliman moved from France to Norway, he travelled by plane and moved to follow a girl. He decided to go when he was 30 but didn’t move until he was 32. Here are his responses and his story.

What were the main differences between the two countries?

Norway was very challenging on many aspects I guess. The climate, a cold and long winter. Then the human aspect. Scandinavia is not southern Europe, you do not make contact easily, so you have to really make some efforts to build a network.

What did you miss the most from home? & Do you have any regrets?

I miss my family and friends and fresh baked bread from the local bakery. Apart from this I do not miss France. I have no regrets

What tips would you give your younger self?

Be more patient and be more positive, better times will come

What was the political situation of the country that you left in at the time and the country that you travelled to?

Both countries were very stable politically and economically speaking. Getting a better life was not a motivation in my trip.

Did you have to make any major life changes to move?

I did not make any major life changes. As I said, I knew I wanted to leave France and if it had not been Norway it would have been somewhere else for sure. Nothing was really keeping me home, I owned nothing there. So I just packed my bag and left

How did you manage/plan financially?

Well, financially speaking I had some savings plus I managed to transfer some unemployment benefits for 3 months through a EEU cooperation system. I was living at someone so I did not have the stress of house hunting. I would say that real life started for me when my love story was over and that I was on my own

Was there anyone or a service whose help you couldn’t have done without?

Back then, around 2000 Norwegian class was for free. It was very good and important for us to learn the language and also meet other people. Recently it became quite expensive to learn Norwegian and a semester cost a lot of money (around 400 pounds)

Can you see yourself doing something like this again? Why?

Definitely. If I still have a good health and enough courage, why not.

Mahmood Hatami

mahmood

Mahmood has actually moved country twice now. He was 24 when he moved from Iran to England and is 53 now. He decided to answer just thinking about the first time he moved. He left Iran in 1984 because of the war between Iran and Iraq.

Why did you decide to go?

The country was in a mess ,as there was a revolution prior to this war ,so the country was in total turmoil and I didn`t want to risk my family’s life, we had a little boy by then ,he was only one ,and things like milk powder etc was hard to come by ,shops were almost empty ,so life was hard.

How did you travel?

My wife and son travelled by air ,however as I hadn`t done my obligatory national service, couldn`t obtain a passport so I had to leave through the mountains and of course illegally.

What problems did you encounter within your journey?

Lots of blisters, black toe nails, cold ,it was a very hard and dangerous journey.

What were the main differences between the two countries?

It was no comparison, Iran was in a mess, war was on, people were experiencing the harsh reality of real war, the change in the regime… in the other hand everything was kind of nice and plentiful in England…

What did you miss the most from home?

At first nothing but then, bread and my large family, especially when I knew I probably won`t be able to see them for a long time.

Do you have any regrets?

No really, I think it was a decision that made me and my family. I managed to make a comfortable life for my small family.

What tips would you give your younger self?

If you think you can improve your life and you have what it takes then go for it ,it’s not easy ,with hard work and good planning anyone can be successful in any country.

Did you have to make any major life changes to move?

Defiantly. The main thing for me was not being able to go back and see my family, it took 13 years before I could return to Iran.

How did you manage/plan financially?

I started to work after 3 days of arriving in England, I worked for my father in law.

Was there anyone or a service whose help you couldn’t have done without?

My beloved and much missed mother in law. She was a great French lady whom I had a lot of respect for and bless her I miss her even now that she has gone.

Can you see yourself doing something like this again? Why?

Yes. I think if you move to another country at younger age ,and live there for a long time then is hard to decide to stay there for ever or going back to your roots ,however I don`t think you can ever settled in either country as you miss one or the other. I have moved back to Iran now for over 2 years, but I have my doubts whether I`ll stay here for good, I`ll let you know!

Sophia Taha

Amsterdam

I am 26 years old and I decided to move from England to the Netherlands. I decided to go because I feel that England is socially about 30 years behind the Netherlands. I was fed up with the sexism and the judgements and the prudishness that you still get in England. Luckily the Netherlands is a mere forty minute plane ride away and bar some struggles with grumpy staff at Heathrow terminal 5 my journey wasn’t too hard.

What were the main differences between the two countries?

Culturally it is more liberal in the Netherlands, it’s easier to be a strong woman without having to make apologies. People are more to the point, which I love.

What did you miss the most from home?

This sounds ridiculous, but the supermarkets. I also miss my friends and family a lot – which is the main reason I’m popping back for a few weeks over Christmas time.

Do you have any regrets?

Definitely not, it’s been an adventure and I know I still want to live in the Netherlands.

What tips would you give your younger self?

Well it was only September that I moved but I still have some words of wisdom for Sophia from 2 months ago. Plan better. Save more and find a regular job before you go. I am free-lance writing and working in a youth hostel and as fun as it has been – struggling with money is pretty crap.

What was the political situation of the country that you left in at the time and the country that you travelled to?

While both countries are stable, the Netherlands is actually behind England in recovering from the recession. It has meant job hunting with only a small amount of Dutch to my name has been hard; especially when everyone Dutch speaks English so all the jobs call for native levels of English and Dutch. The only places where poor Dutch can be gotten away with is within the tourism industry and as I moved in September – low season- this hasn’t been the best time for job hunting.

Did you have to make any major life changes to move?

Not really, I have most of my possessions still stored in England waiting on my finding a proper flat etc. I’m glad I only moved with a few bags (albeit huge bags) and that I get to return home for a bit to re-plan and learn more Dutch. My Dutch has definitely improved while I’ve been living here but the 5 months of lessons prior to my move were no way near enough.

How did you manage/plan financially?

I am awful with my money and ridiculously impulsive. I’d go as far as to say I didn’t plan financially really. It’s been tough and as a consequence I’m now going back to England to re-plan and sort my finances out so round 2 of project move to the Netherlands goes more smoothly.

Was there anyone or a service whose help you couldn’t have done without?

Dutch locals! My friends back home. Both invaluable sources of information, reassurance and smiley faces.

Can you see yourself doing something like this again? Why?

Hell yes! It’s been a massive exercise in growing up, understanding me and really getting to know more about the Netherlands beyond my holidays here. Moving to another country is scary. You get homesick. You doubt the wisdom of your change and suddenly become fond of your familiar and boring old life. You also meet people you never would have met; get career opportunities you didn’t have back home (I am now paid to write! – sadly only one article a month but a huge step for me!) and improve your language skills in my case.

if you’ve moved country and would like to answer my questions so I can extend the collection of stories – get in contact!

Desert Island Reads – Three books that changed my lifeisland

 

Sophia Taha tells us about the three books she would take to a desert island and why they are important to her.

This is an age old question and one that I have given some serious thought to. I have chosen to assume that food and shelter and general survival is provided for and I am reading purely for entertainment.  I feel this will make for a far more interesting collection of reads if I don’t have to include a book on survival tips!

My three books are an eclectic mix but I recommend reading them all.

The Pineapple: King of Fruits by Fran Beauman

A fascinating read that I find myself coming back to again and again, The Pineapple: King of Fruits is a full history of a tropical fruit that many of us the world over take for granted in our local markets.  The book is laced with fascinating facts that I would love to be able to call to hand at the drop of a hat and so reading it repeatedly would give me great pleasure.  There is something strangely addictive about having an in-depth knowledge of the history of something seemingly so mundane as the pineapple.  I once met a fellow writer who was able to recall all sorts of pineapple-related trivia and it was his passion that got me interested and resulted in my buying of this book.  The author’s genuine research of the history of cultivation of pineapples helped hone my writing, digging up conflicting facts and trying to discern the truth of the pineapple’s history is no different to fact-checking and tapping various sources for the articles I write.  I heartily recommend reading about pineapples, it’s a journey that will take you across the world and provide you with endless anecdotes to dispense at parties!

Paul Conroy’s Under the Wire

I’ve included this book because Paul’s inspirational and hilarious writing about the tragic last assignment of war correspondent Marie Colvin will always be worth a second, third or fourth read.  I found myself laughing out loud at his comic portrayals of Marie and feeling the tragedy of the loss of one of my reporting heroes.  Paul’s sense of adventure and his commitment to getting the truth out of dangerous war zones are inspiring.  I’d have to take my own copy because it‘s signed by Paul and that makes it particularly special to me.  It is a well-thumbed book of mine and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It is a book that solidifies my own desire to communicate the truth behind any incident or topic and is a book that reminds me how important bravery is to this cause.

Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

When I first read this, I loved it but at times didn’t fully understand it.  With a large amount of free time on a desert island I would love to re-read and re-examine it more closely.  I’d like to further explore the symbolism within this journey of the mind and body.  My copy was given to me by a good friend and will always be special to me because of this.  The abstract scenes Thompson paints with his words are both wonderful and confusing.  At times your mind cannot fully absorb them, it strains to understand them before giving up and letting the images simple wash over you.  Fear and Loathing is worth every minute I spent reading it and pondering its meaning.

Young Gardeners -the New Buzz word!

younggarden_2148204b

 

Urban Gardens, Guerilla Gardening, University Horticultural Societies, young people are trying to regain their green fingers.

The internet is a huge part of gardening now, from delivering tips and inspiration to land share schemes. Sunita Mohan, author of the Urban Gardener Blog started writing out of a need to communicate.  She loves gardening and growing her own vegetables and says “Even weeds have their purpose….many are medicinal, others are food sources for butterflies. Everything is interlinked” she goes on to say “just because you live in the city is no reason to cut greenery from your life”.

John Foley is the winner of the BBC Young Gardener of the Year Competition.  He runs Holden Clough Nursery.  It has been established since 1927, he took it over from his father back in 2009 and the business has gone from strength to strength, now turning over £1 million a year.

A humble and approachable young gardener who described winning as “smashing”   he said that the recognition meant his business moved “several rungs up the ladder.” He thinks young people gardening would realise how “enjoyable and satisfying” it is.  “It is easy to do and there are skills to pick up, (you learn by) trial and error”.  According to John, young people get into gardening mainly through family links, either encouraged by grandparents or parents.  He argues that this needs to change.  “There need to be role models; (gardening) needs to be studied in the school system not just after school but as part of the curriculum”.  John loves the “buzz” that the seasons dictate, the differences between each period in the gardening calendar means that “there is always something different happening.”  He thinks the guerrilla gardening movement is inspirational and a great way to tidy up a community.

Alan Titchmarsh lamented last year that gardening was suffering from a lack of interest from youth.  However there are many initiatives to get young people into gardening. The Royal Horticulture Society has a “young school gardener of the year” award that it uses to work with schools and get young children interested in gardening.  Their competition is open to contestants between the ages of 5 to 16 and has been very successful.

Other initiatives include The Princes Foundation which has an Ideal Young Gardener competition it runs every year.  The brief is to think how a limited amount of space can be used in the urban environment that we all live in.  One of the organisers David Domoney is quoted as saying,  “It is such a privilege creating this competition for the young landscapers & designers as they showcase their work for the first time. The amount of hard work that goes into these gardens is truly inspiring.”

Young gardeners are getting inspired from many sources. As John argues there is still a lot of work to be done within the education system but with competitions and blogs motivating those with an interest the work is half way done.  Gardening is cool and here to stay.

 Guerilla Warfare Declared on Urban Spaces

Gardening is regaining popularity.  Urban Gardens, Guerrilla Gardening, University Horticultural Societies, young people are discovering their green fingers.    These movements come from a desire to reconnect with nature, to connect once more with traditions and to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment.

What is Guerilla Gardening?

Guerrilla-Gardeners-in-Action

Think of it as gardening graffiti.  People find vacant public spaces that have been neglected in their local area and take matters into their own hands.  Under cover of darkness they plant and garden to improve the appearance of these unkempt and derelict spaces.  Guerrilla gardeners proudly post before and after photos online, one such place to see some of their handy work is http://www.guerrillagardening.org .  An excellent way to get young people motivated to garden and an interesting alternative to vandalism, Guerrilla Gardening is something anyone can get involved in.  We’d love to see any attempts you make with before and after photos, post them on our Facebook page or tweet us.

Young Gardeners

younggarden_2148204b

To find out more about these trends and what drives people to garden I interviewed John Foley, winner of the BBC Young Gardener of the Year Competition.  John runs Holden Clough Nursery.  It has been established since 1927, he took it over from his father back in 2009 and the business has gone from strength to strength, now turning over £1 million a year.

A humble and approachable young gardener who described winning as “smashing”   he said that the recognition meant his business moved “several rungs up the ladder.” He thinks young people gardening would realise how “enjoyable and satisfying” it is.  “It is easy to do and there are skills to pick up, (you learn by) trial and error”.  According to John, young people get into gardening mainly through family links, either encouraged by grandparents or parents.  He argues that this needs to change.  “There need to be role models; (gardening) needs to be studied in the school system not just after school but as part of the curriculum”.  John loves the “buzz” that the seasons dictate, the differences between each period in the gardening calendar means that “there is always something different happening.”  He thinks the guerrilla gardening movement is inspirational and a great way to tidy up a community.

Youth Interest?

Alan Titchmarsh lamented last year that gardening was suffering from a lack of interest from youth.  However there are many initiatives to get young people into gardening. The Royal Horticulture Society has a “young school gardener of the year” award that it uses to work with schools and get young children interested in gardening.  Their competition is open to contestants between the ages of 5 to 16 and has been very successful.

Other initiatives include The Princes Foundation which has an Ideal Young Gardener competition it runs every year.  The brief is to think how a limited amount of space can be used in the urban environment that we all live in.  One of the organisers David Domoney is quoted as saying,  “It is such a privilege creating this competition for the young landscapers & designers as they showcase their work for the first time. The amount of hard work that goes into these gardens is truly inspiring.”

Young gardeners are getting inspired from many sources. As John argues there is still a lot of work to be done but with competitions and blogs motivating those with an interest the work is half way done

So get gardening, start your own local guerrilla gardening movement, join your local horticultural society or just start planting on your own. Start reading gardening blogs, start looking at your urban spaces in a different way.  Gardening is cool and here to stay. Keep in contact with us and show us what you come up with whether you start gardening in your spaces at home or become a guerrilla gardener, we’d love to see the work you do.  

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