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Moving internationally – in the middle of the pandemic

By Dörte Jordan


Moving internationally always comes with a bunch of hick-ups. What to bring? How to move? When, how and where? The list of questions seems endless.


Moving on a national level can already be stressful and finding a suitable flat seems always to be a nightmare. However, moving internationally is the next level. Flat search from abroad is a (nearly) impossible task. Depending on ‘how far’ internationally – means neighbouring country, EU-wide, or world-wide – only online viewings are an option. But honestly, online flat viewing? Speaking for the Netherlands, that is no option at all. If you are lucky, you will find something pretty soon or are eligible for a temporarily solution provided by university.


Once arrived, or perhaps even before, the nightmare of bureaucracy begins. Usually, this is a vicious circle where the minimum consists of national registration, bank account, and health insurance. You do not see the vicious circle yet? Well, no house means no registration, means no bank account, means no insurance. But –in case you did not know- you will only find a house or flat if you can provide a working contract, which you can only sign when having a bank account. Do you see the problem? Apparently, this works more or less the same in the whole of Europe. Luckily, most employers are aware of this and provide a way out: Registering at their address first for up to three months. Far from ideal, but at least everything else can be arranged after that.


Nothing new so far, right? Correct! This is the playground for beginners! The advanced level challenges you with different Covid-19 measurements when crossing borders, sometimes even regions. You thought you had everything organised? Yes, for the set of rules, that ran out five minutes ago. You feel like playing monopoly – please go directly to start, do not take 2000€! Yes, I am exaggerating a little here, but in the end, it is how you may feel.


For everyone, who wants to play the next level: Imagine you must apply for a working visa. Likely, the closest embassy is closed due to Covid-19, hence you need to plan world-trip to apply and obtain the correct visa. Sounds like fun? More like the six weeks you have for moving will be gone in a split second.


My personal difficulty added up here. Moving from Scotland -where I did my Master’s degree- back to Germany, finally seeing my friends and family again after a year of Scottish lockdown and emptying my subleased shared flat. Doing all of this in a timeframe, that felt like not enough for just one move.


We all managed to move, set-up all necessary accounts and registrations. Our next step will be to learn the languages in our ‘new’ countries while settling in, attempting what feels like a nearly impossible challenge to make new friends during lockdown, and getting our projects started. Honestly, I feel like we earn a PhD just for managing that! 😊


Comment your own thoughts and experiences down here in the comment-section and talk to you soon!

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