I am Nikoleta, 23 years old and I was born in Bulgaria. When I was looking for a place to study, I knew I wanted to go for a technical study and Eindhoven was the perfect place for that. The only rival to that choice was studying criminology in the UK, but the prospects of finding a job here after my study were better. So that’s why I chose to move to the Netherlands. When I was younger, I already moved once in Bulgaria for my high school, which made it easier for me to move to the Netherlands because the idea of moving didn’t scare me as much anymore.
Although I wasn’t afraid of moving to the Netherlands, I still was a tiny bit scared at first. I wasn’t worried about the new environment, but when you first arrive it is a challenge to figure out all the things that you need to arrange. Luckily, accommodation was arranged for me by my school Fontys, but for the rest it took a lot of asking around. However, everyone was very helpful and most people speak great English which made some things a lot easier.
Bulgaria versus the Netherlands
I am not one to get homesick easily, but I really miss the food back home. The Dutch have some really nice things like the hagelslag and the stroopwafels, but for the rest I really missed some spice. Adjusting to the weather was also a bit of a struggle, you never know if you will get soaked in rain or blown away by wind.
And of course the ’beautiful’ Dutch language. I’ve noticed that all Dutch people really appreciate it when you try to speak it, but I also know that in the beginning it all sounds like one long word with lots of harsh sounds.
As mentioned – the food is quite different from Eastern Europe, but it can’t be explained until it is experienced.
Another big difference is the ‘lack’ of hierarchy in the workplace. By that I don’t really mean that it doesn’t exist in the Netherlands, but here you can easily give feedback to your bosses and managers and you will not get frowny looks. Whereas back home usually whoever has the higher post also always ends up being ‘correct’ in a discussion.
My start at ALTEN
I actually heard of ALTEN from two separate places. A friend of mine who had a project for ALTEN at the Fontys told me about it when I was looking for a graduation internship. One of the main things my friend mentioned was the atmosphere and attitude of ALTEN as a company, especially regarding to the social aspect of it all. But I was also approached on LinkedIn by one of the Business Managers within ALTEN Mechatronics and it was very easy to establish contact from there, that’s when I chose to do my graduation project at ALTEN.
After spending my graduation period within ALTEN, I was pleased to be offered a position as a consultant. So now I work as a technical consultant, which means that I work on a project within a technical company. This could be in any stage of the project, from research and development to the part where the project needs to be implemented and supported. I graduated as an Electrical Engineer and I am now broadening my scope within the Mechatronics department in ALTEN and I am working on a project for Demcon – Advanced Mechatronics in Best.
What I do like most about my work is the opportunity to grow and show my skills as well as to learn new skills. I like the fact that I can ask anything and as a junior I usually get a detailed answer I can learn from. But at the same time, if I have an idea or suggestion my opinion will be heard and considered. I guess the biggest challenge always depends on the type of project, but for me the challenge is to choose in which direction I would like to develop myself and to ask for guidance to get there.
Why other people should consider to move abroad
I am one of the biggest supporters of the decision to relocate or move abroad. Whether temporarily or permanently, going to a different company, city or country is something that will broaden your horizon more than you would ever expect. It will uncover strengths and weaknesses you didn’t know you had and for me the Netherlands has been the best place to do that with a community and infrastructure that really helps expats. The big tip I would give to anyone coming here is that they need to ask for that help, because nobody comes knocking at your door to give you help, but if you ask, you will get it.
Would you also like to read other stories of our Internationals just like Nikoleta? You can find their blog and the blog of Nikoleta here.