Elsa & Nuria – New to the Netherlands and loving it!

In the midst of a global pandemic, Elsa Surroca van Zanten and Nuria Labeaga Martinez moved to the Netherlands to embark on an international career. Newly qualified engineers, they were drawn to Eindhoven by the prospect of working for Dutch technology company, a global market and technology leader in high tech industry. Xelvin met with the pair (online of course) to talk about their experience.

You’re both from Spain? Did you know each other before you moved here?

Elsa: ”Not at all, I’m from Barcelona and Nuria is from Madrid. I had had my interview with the company back in February, but then the pandemic really took hold, and we decided to delay my start date a few months and Nuria started in May 2020.”

Is this your first job after university? What do you do?

Nuria: ”I finished my masters in Space engineering, and I worked for a Spanish company for a while after that. I guess this is my second ‘real’ job. I’m a production engineer, so I’m mostly in the factory or in the office.”

Elsa: ”It is my first official job since finishing university, but it wasn’t so daunting for me because I am half Dutch. My mother is Dutch, and we travelled here every year all my life. Plus, I speak the language, so it wasn’t such a strange idea to come and work here. I always wanted to travel so working as a system installation engineer is perfect as I get to travel all the time.”

Did you always dream of an international career?

Elsa: ”I’d always thought that I would do it. I like travelling, and adventure and the Netherlands seemed like an obvious choice given my connections.”

Nuria: ”Not in any concrete way. I had vaguely thought it might be a possibility, far in the future. I wasn’t looking at all. Diego from Xelvin found me on LinkedIn and made contact. It seemed interesting, so I decided to look further into it. He convinced me that there were great opportunities in the Netherlands. I knew it would be an excellent springboard for my career, so it didn’t take much persuasion.”

Are you glad you decided to go for it?

Nuria: ”Absolutely! It’s the best thing I ever did.”

Elsa: ”Me too. Initially, I thought I would stay for 2 or 3 years, get some experience and then move back to Spain. But now I love it. I can’t see myself leaving any time soon. Even with all the Covid restrictions we’ve had this year, I’ve really enjoyed it, and I plan to stay.”

Nuria: ”Actually, that’s one of the reasons I decided to come here. I asked Xelvin if there would be any penalty if I chose not to renew my contract or if I wanted to leave early. They said no, there was no penalty but that no one leaves. No one goes back to where they’re from. That’s very comforting. It means that this company really looks after their employees.”

Were you nervous about moving to the Netherlands?

Nuria: ”Absolutely. It was really like stepping into the unknown, quite scary. Especially with the corona situation making everything more difficult. In ordinary times, I could just fly back to Barcelona in 2 hours from Eindhoven airport, but at the moment that’s not possible.”

Elsa: ”I guess I had it easier because I know the Netherlands more and speak the language. However, I was still nervous about starting a new job and not knowing anyone.”

Did Xelvin help with the relocation process?

Nuria: ”They did almost everything for us! Registration, health insurance, the bank, finding accommodation, everything. Without them, it would have been a nightmare. Xelvin really thought of everything.”

Elsa: ”It wasn’t just any accommodation either. At first, we lived in a short stay place where lots of expats lived together with a shared social space. This meant we could get to know each other and make friends. That’s really where Nuria and I met and decided to move in together.”

Nuria: ”It was a great introduction to the Netherlands. It meant we met lots of people from all kinds of nationalities and cultures. It was invaluable, especially with Corona making it impossible to get out and meet people. Honestly, booking the flight was probably the most challenging thing about moving! All the flights were being cancelled, and I just couldn’t get here!”

Do you have any advice for other people thinking about making the move?

Nuria: ”Just do it. If you don’t like the job or the place, Xelvin will find you a better fit. If you aren’t happy, you can always move to a different department. On a practical note, get all your documentation like birth certificates ready before you come. It was extra challenging because of the lockdowns in Spain!”

Elsa: ”The Netherlands is also a great option because there is no language barrier, most people speak English, particularly in Eindhoven. Everyone has been so friendly. It’s very international and doesn’t feel like a big city. Moving abroad expands your horizons and gives you a different outlook on life. It’s a unique experience no one should miss!”

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