Why I left the Netherlands

The question that I get most frequently these days: ‘Why did you leave the Netherlands?’ I thought, this is a good excuse for a new blog.

Maura ten Hoopen, composer and founder of Restful Mind. Creator of royalty free relaxing music for meditation, hypnosis and yoga.

No Answer

I have been living in Egypt since one year and four months. This whole time I have been wondering myself: ‘What am I doing here?’. I wasn’t sure, so when others asked, I never really had an answer. I used to say things like; because of the Red Sea, I love the sun or it is cheaper. Of course these are not lies, but it is definitely not a complete answer of why I moved away from the Netherlands, such a blessed country. 

A Calling

The day I traveled to Egypt, I had no idea how long this adventure would take. I told myself and others I was going on a vacation for a month or so, even though in the meantime I was selling all the stuff I owned.  Apparently a part of me knew it would be more than just a vacation. I felt this very strong urge to go to Egypt, like someone was giving me a little push to move to a completely different world. And I decided to go with it, and have faith…

Back in the Netherlands

The summers are very hot in Egypt, so it is the perfect time to visit the Netherlands. As I am writing this, I am staying with my family for two weeks and after that I will go back to the desert. While my mother and I were driving to our vacation house in Germany a few days ago, I tried to explain to her why I still feel pulled towards Egypt. I am assuming it can be difficult to understand what life is like there and what the reason could be for such a big decision. As I started talking it suddenly became clear, not just to my mother but also to myself. 

A long straight road

As long as I can remember I have been feeling expectations from others to live life a certain way. For a long time I felt that life in the Netherlands has to be a certain way for people to accept me. I felt I was supposed to go to school, make life-long friends there, then go to college, start working, get a boyfriend, buy a house, have kids and then keep working so we can someday buy a bigger house and a better car. The weekends are supposed to be spend with friends and family and then the work week starts again. To me this felt like a restriction, like I was living in a box that I didn’t fit in very well. This made me feel drained, unhappy, unmotivated and craving for adventure. 

All these invisible expectations from the outer world and limitations from my inner world, made me believe I was on this long straight road, that just keeps going, and it never stops. 


I wasn’t in contact anymore with friends from school, we had gone our own ways and this was fine with me, because I had changed. I started to realise it didn’t come naturally to make new friends here. Most people have their friend group from school and are busy with work or with their children, so they never seemed open for new people. The connections that I did had through work or sport always stayed superficial for some reason. I feel most people are living their life in privacy and want to keep things the way they are.

I had always felt like an outsider who wanted things differently but no one seemed to understand. Most choices I made in my life were seen as “weird” or “strange”. People I knew would make jokes about this, which isn’t a big deal, but when it happens almost every time you see them, it does start to make you feel like you really are weird and you should change yourself to fit in more. 

Living in Egypt

Now living in Egypt, I can’t say I have many friends, but the friends that I do have understand me. They made the same decision as I did and came to Egypt to explore, learn about themselves and to break free from certain patterns in their country. I am sure Egyptians have their own feelings of pressure to deal with, but because I am a foreigner there, no one seems to care what I am doing and I love that. Other foreigners are exploring life like me, and they are also open for new connections. Therefore I feel less alone and less judged. I get to be myself without being exposed to a lot of negativity and doubtful minded people. 

I don’t mean the Netherlands isn’t a good place and that Dutch people are bad in any way. I love my family and friends there. It’s an amazing and fortunate place to grow up in. And if you do fit in, I am sure it is a pretty cool place to be.

For how long?

For now, I still feel drawn to Egypt and the adventure and freedom I feel there. Knowing myself, this can change at any moment, any time, anywhere. I will know when it is time to move on…

Written by Maura ten Hoopen Composer & Founder of Restful Mind || Royalty Free Relaxing Music

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