Some of the dentists who come to the Netherlands through DPA Dentistry also become our ambassadors. This means they help dentists who are interested in coming to the Netherlands by providing them with information about the DPA project, the Dutch life and any other questions they may have. Because they are dentists who experienced the DPA Dentistry project first-hand, our ambassadors have a unique perspective that they can use to help the people who have the same questions that they may have had themselves a few years ago.
Last week we spoke with Román about his experiences. This time, we listen to Elena’s story. Elena was born and raised in Gijón, Spain, and she has been living in the Dutch city of Enschede since 2015.Elena first had contact with DPA Dentistry in 2013. “Since the very first moment, I felt the human touch from the team behind this project”, she says. “They have always been open to answer all of my inquiries, and they have helped me a lot throughout the entire process of moving to the Netherlands. They still do. They’re a young team full of enthusiasm and they work hard to achieve the best for all dentists working here.”
About the Dutch course in Seefeld, Elena says: “The time I spent in Seefeld was a great experience, as the hotel is a perfect setting to start learning a language from scratch. Of course I can’t forget to mention our beloved Josie, who was always there for us, taking us for hikes through the mountains or just showing us around. She is someone I can never forget.”
Even though Elena is satisfied with the help and guidance she received from DPA, her first months in the Netherlands were tough. At the same time, she believes that, as long as you have a solid basis for your language skills, there is nothing that will hold you back. “The goal is to improve every day, like when you talk with your colleagues, and to be open. This is one of the most incredible experiences of your life, so you have to enjoy it from the very first moment. At the same time, you have to have the willpower to do it. I did experience cultural shock when I arrived, or rather cultural surprise. Every country is different, and within each country, even cities can be quite different from one another. I think it is important to be open-minded and have a good group friends to help you get accustomed to the culture. You could start doing sports or join a hobby club, but there are countless other ways of doing this.”Elena believes that integration is something that comes with time: “During the first year, you still feel like a deer in the headlights, because suddenly you’re surrounded by another culture, another language and another climate. Almost everything is different! It is important to take the time to adapt yourself to this new situation. In my case, I’ve always wanted to develop myself as a dentist, work with different cultures and get the chance to look at my profession from a different perspective. This attitude has paid off for me, and it has been an incredible experience from a personal perspective as well. I’ve always felt very welcome, too. The patients find it special to have a Spanish dentist seeing as lots of Dutch people visit Spain during their holidays. Some of them even ask me: “Why did you come here? Your country is amazing!” Of course, that is something I can’t deny.”
When asked about how she feels about her work in a Dutch clinic, Elena is very enthusiastic: “I am really happy with my job. Every day is a new chance to learn and improve in an incredible atmosphere. My working day begins around 8 in the morning and ends around 4:30 or 5 o’ clock in the afternoon. This gives me enough freedom to do sports or spend some quality time. Dutch people are very respectful when it comes to personal time, and also with the breaks at work. At 10 am, I have a small break to talk with my colleagues and enjoy a cup of coffee. At noon, I have a 1-hour lunch break. After that, I work non-stop until the end of the work day. In addition to my regular work treating patients, I occasionally have meetings to discuss certain cases. There is always something to do at my work, so there is no time for boredom. Dutch patients value their oral health and that is something that we see in our agenda, which is full every day.”
Even though Elena is happy in the Netherlands, there are some things that she misses from Spain, such as her family, her friends and the food. To prevent becoming homesick, she often meets up with her Spanish friends who also live in the Netherlands, and they cook for each other or just enjoy the company.Elena also has some advice for her Spanish colleagues who are thinking about moving to the Netherlands: “Just do it! You will learn a lot and the experience is amazing. The professional network is huge and there is a high chance of getting an incredible job. As an international dentist, you are very welcome. Dutch society is very open and you will manage to integrate as long as you are willing to do so. I work and I am also doing a postgraduate study at the same time so that I can get the best out of this journey, and I couldn’t be happier. I am sure that you will be happy as well.”