Expats Connect is a new meet-up for internationals in Rotterdam, a safe space where you can meet others who are also adjusting to life in the Netherlands. The first meet-up will be on Wednesday September 18th, but before that: let’s meet Irene Anggreeni who initiated Expats Connect.
Hi Irene, tell us who you are!
I’m Irene Anggreeni, 37 years old. I have my own business, Expat Wellbeing where, I offer dance and movement therapy for people who are dealing with psychological problems and mental health issues, but also for people who use it for their personal development, their growing process. Besides that I also consult companies who want to create wellness programs for their employees.
And your zodiac sign (very important)?
What brought you to the Netherlands?
I’ve been living in the Netherlands for thirteen years; I came here in 2006 to do my PhD at the Design Engineering Department of the University of Twente. Then I stayed. After some personal progress I changed direction to become what I am now.
What is one of the biggest struggles for people just starting to live here?
From my own experience, and maybe it will resonate with a lot of internationals, my biggest problem was finding a connection, making friends. A lot of internationals come here, for their studies or for their career and that’s already overloading their life. In my case, it was definitely overloading mine and I felt there was little time left to create connections. I find this to be the most pressing problem.
Why did you initiate Expats Connect?
Fun fact: initially I wanted to call it Expats Anonymous, as a twist of the other Anonymous group (:)). I wanted to create a place where it’s safe, where people treat each other with care and trust, where they can share their stories about coming here without being judged. Of course, it’s not only about complaining, we aim to be empowering, to share experiences, to learn from each other, give each other a boost and be there for each other. That’s the idea behind Expats Connect.
What can people expect from our get together on September 18th?
I hope that by finding each other and connecting with each other, people will feel less alone in their journey. Expect some playful and creative ways to make new connections. Because nowadays when we meet people we mostly just ask about superficial stuff, like “What’s your name?”, “What do you do?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. If you’re coming to the meeting, be prepared for some deeper and more genuine conversation. I hope afterwards you won’t feel like a stranger anymore, that you can share with new friends – friends that you’ll make there hopefully!