by Gabi Nagy
Moving to a foreign country can be hard in many ways. Even for a freelance translator, a digital nomad, who is used to accept existence as François de la Rochefoucauld formulated so well: “The only thing constant in life is change“.
New flat, new neighborhood, new landscape, unfamiliar products in the supermarket, and a foreign language that does not help to understand all the ingredients on the packaging.
Being a freelance translator means that you are alone a lot. Internet connection and electric power are nearly equivalent to the air you breath. You spend at least 8-10 hours alone (that can easily be more if you receive bigger projects) and your only connection to the outer world are the clients who you have never met in person.
Being alone does not necessarily results in feeling alone, but sometimes it does. Every part of your working life is virtual, so no wonder that even if you like your job, or you like being alone, occasionally you long to see real people. Even more so when you live in a tiny village where the inhabitants do not really care who you are, where you are from or what you are up to.
And if you want to be among people you have to take the initiative. As we say in Hungary: “Help yourself and God will help you“. This is exactly what happened… Finding Seats2Meets via Google took no time but believing that it existed for real took more than a day. I remember my first thought at the moment of plugging my laptop at S2M venue at Utrecht Central: “I cannot believe how lucky I am“.
Because it is the perfect place for me. Very accessible from everywhere, still quiet. You are in a community where you can help others if needed and you can be helped. Every piece of the furniture, the whole design, the guy behind the counter of the coffee corner, the staff, even the soap dispenser with its Buddha silhouette is very friendly.
You can choose workstations with different type of chairs, you can sit, stand or even lie because there is a sofa.
The whole concept and the tiny details treat you with trust and respect, let you free and believe that you will contribute when it is needed.
So I couldn’t help but write about my new experience on my Facebook timeline. I wanted to tell my friends what I have found. But I have accidentally left the post’s privacy setting public so when I got home in the evening I saw that it went viral, a blogger even translated it into English and my post has been shared by complete strangers, 5500 thousand people in total.
All of them were celebrating what S2M offers. The comments that people added to my post after sharing it were all positive.
No trolls, no negative comments, all of them wished to see similar places in our country because they loved the concept.
If you are a translator you love words, so you are happy when you learn new ones. The two newcomers who settled in my dictionary at that day for ever are “social currency” and “serendipity”. I knew both phenomenons “from practice”, but without knowing their names.
Serendipity happens to me quite often and each time it makes me smile gratefully. Sometimes serendipity reveals itself only after years, sometimes immediately, but it is always amazing.
My encounter with S2M is a good example for serendipity:
I had to find a flat in the Netherlands with my boyfriend very quickly. The contract signing for our dream flat in Utrecht has been unexpectedly cancelled in the last moment because the landlady did not get her US visa and could not leave the flat. So we had no time to be picky and ended up renting a house in a charming but boring village.
I was bitter but I knew that there must be a reason for it.
Now I know the reason and I am happy because of a refused US visa and this tiny village, many of my fellow citizen could get acquainted with Seats2Meets, I could participate on the S2M global meetup a couple of month later and met the great team behind S2M.
Moving to a foreign country is exciting in many ways. At least for those who like to discover new things.
New flat, new neighborhood, new landscape, unfamiliar but interesting new products in the supermarket, and a foreign language that does not help to understand the ingredients, so you end up putting tuinbonen into your soup instead of erwtjes (they really look the same on the packaging!).
But you have a choice: you can be upset and feel that your soup is ruined or you can be happy because you have just learnt the name of a new ingredient and a new taste with it…