Settling in a new country

Pieter Marneweck
3 min readJun 29, 2018


Almost six months ago I decided to make a huge life change. I had for a while felt that my life was stuck in a rut, I was going nowhere very slowly. What better way to give yourself a kick-start than to move to another country. I had been contemplating this idea for a very long time but I always felt like I would be letting my family down by moving away from everything I had ever known.

In January of 2018 I decided to visit some friends in Serbia, 11372 km away from my home and everything that is dear to me. I was convinced that I would be returning after a few weeks, soon a month had passed and I was still here. At first everything feels so different, the weather, the people and the way things are done in general. Nothing is the same, yet everything is the same.

We do things at home without thinking twice, we know how everything works and we can easily ask for directions if we are unsure. When you are in a different country, everything works the same but the way in which you have to go about getting things done is completely different. Serbia and my home country has very little in common. Serbian people are some of the most helpful I have ever come across, they will try their absolute best to help you get everything done that needs to be done. That makes getting things like cellphones, internet connections and a place to live in easier.

The biggest change for me is not having my family right there next to me, this very thing is what kept me from moving in the first place. To my surprise moving away has actually made me feel closer to my loved ones. When you see people everyday you can easily forget just how special it is to have them in your life. The minute they are a few thousand kilometres away you gain a clearer perspective of just how special that relationship is. Viber and WhatsApp are great ways to keep in touch but it is not a replacement for the real thing.

Almost six months on and I am starting to feel like I am settling, the line between visiting and staying is becoming thinner by the day. As a foreign person in another country you can expect that things like getting a bank account and apartment will be difficult but you soon find ways of managing and getting things done. The learning process however comes with a fair amount of frustration so brace yourself for endless instances of requiring just another paper and having to pay just one more fee. Once you have done the basics however, you can start living and experiencing the true “local culture”

Another big milestone is begining to understand and communicating in the native language of the country you are living in. It does wonders to make you feel like you are integrating more into the society you have adopted as your own. I cannot speak for other countries, but the Serbian people do really welcome any instance of a foreigner trying to speak Serbian. It is a difficult language for people who are used to speaking English but it is not impossible to learn. “Ja govorim malo Srpski”

The next thing on my agenda is visiting my home. Yes, my native country will always be home, but my life is now lived across continents. I think one is bound to develop two parallel lives when living in a country other than the one you were born in. They say home is where the heart is and my heart is in two places. I love my life in Serbia, my Serbian friends and their unique sense of life in general. I also love my roots and where I come from. It is in my opinion impossible to really seperate yourself completely from your roots.

Until next time…….



Pieter Marneweck

I love living life to the full, travelling and learning about others as much as possible. I am also a freelance writer. Here is where I come to share my views.