I first met Tomislava in an online meeting in 2019. She was actually one of the first Croatian dentists I spoke with in regard to the possibility to work as a dentist in the Netherlands. As BGB Dentistry, we had only started that year to explore Croatia and its dentistry market. So it was new for us and also for Tomislava.
Start of the journey towards the Netherlands
As Tomislava said after 2 years living and working in the Netherlands: “It sort of happened to me, and I feel like it was the right decision to make. I could not wish for better timing of this adventure.”
Tomislava always wished to go abroad. We got in touch via a job portal, where she’d seen our offer. During the first interview, we immediately felt comfortable, building trust between both sides and getting to know each other. She already had an unpleasant experience with another recruiter from abroad, so we both wanted to make sure we were the right match before starting our cooperation. Not long after my conversations with her, she met the rest of our team, discussed all the details, signed the contract, and was ready to start the journey relocating to the Netherlands!
Ready, set, go!
Tomislava started studying Dutch at our BGB Academy. First she began with Dutch online classes, where she made a lot of progress. We thought it might be also a good indication for the future that Croatian dentists would be able learn the Dutch language relatively fast, and that’s very important during the whole relocating process.
Tomislava was ready to leave Croatia after her online classes and continue the offline part of the language course at our BGB Academy in Seefeld, Austria. However, the trip to Austria was off to a rocky start, though we can fortunately look back now and laugh about it. She missed her flight from Zagreb not by her fault. “These things happen to me, and I don’t even understand why. It’s so me!” Fortunately, our colleague Dário, helped her to find a new flight and she managed to arrive on time for the second part of the language course.
As we were talking, she recalled all of the good moments she had there with other dentists and our colleagues at the Academy. Studying Dutch every day is not easy, but obviously it worked out for her. One thing Tomislava really misses from the period in Seefeld: someone taking care of you, cooking for you, she adds with following laugh. Tomislava said that Josie, one of our colleagues who cooks and takes care of our dentists, belongs to the best memories from Seefeld. She liked the cooking and having wine with her, going for a hike in the mountains, talking to her about anything, and relaxing together with other dentists from her group. Conversely, the biggest challenge was to stick to the routine and schedule, because after some weeks, things can become a bit monotone and you just want it to be over. However, the time she spent there nobody will take away from her, and the same definitely applies to the memories and connections she has made there with other dentists and our team.
Working at a Dutch family clinic
Tomislava was fortunate to have a chance to meet the owner of the clinic face-to-face during her stay in Seefeld. Sometimes the owners of the clinics come to the BGB Academy, and at other times, the dentists have their interviews online.
For Tomislava, the clinic was a great match and she felt since the beginning that it would become a nice place where she can hopefully stay for a long time. Tomislava has by now been working in the Netherlands for 2 years and at the same clinic where she started when she arrived here in January 2020. She works in the south of the Netherlands, in the region called Limburg, with the capital city of Maastricht. Tomislava works and lives in the city Brunssum.
The clinic she works at has been a client of BGB for many years. It’s a modern and progressive clinic. She can use a microscope, loop glasses and other new technologies. To quote her words, she could not be happier with this choice and with the people she works with. She is not just happy with the feeling she got after the first meeting with the owners of the clinic, but she still feels appreciated as a person and a professional. It was definitely something she had missed in her country. One of the things she values a lot is that they listen to her and try to find the best solution if there is any problem or request from her side. Tomislava is satisfied with working in a team oriented towards quality and challenges, as she feels that can help her develop as a dentist. On top of that, three of her colleagues are foreign dentists who went through the same process with BGB. Great to share the experience with others!
Dutch language in the real world. Does it help you to socialize?
As mentioned earlier, Tomislava successfully finished her Dutch language course at our BGB Academy and passed the necessary Dutch language exam. At the clinic, she speaks with the patients and colleagues, of course, in Dutch. Outside her work, she mostly also remains speaking Dutch. If you hear her speaking Dutch now, she already picked up a bit of the accent from the region she lives in. The language definitely played a big role into a socializing and interacting with people. In the Netherlands, most of the population speaks English well, but to feel fully accepted, it’s important to speak and use Dutch.
Tomislava has a good feeling about living in that region and felt comfortable since the beginning. She feels that people are very spontaneous, open and it was not hard to get accepted into the society. A way to break the ice for her was to simply try and use the language even if it meant having to make mistakes. Tomislava communicated in Dutch even if she was insecure or scared, but it was a great milestone achieved. Obviously, people noticed her effort at the clinic and started deeper conversations with her. Some of them became her friends, people she can ask for help, go for a coffee or to join her on a trip. Her patients are mostly surprised that she has been her for “only” two years and speaks fluent Dutch, makes jokes and has serious conversations about the treatment plans. Tomislava remembers her proudest moment regarding the language, which was when she was mistaken for a native speaker. She got this great compliment while she was at the gym and came into conversation with other people there!
Tips for curious dentists?
In the end, settling in to Dutch society was a challenge that Tomislava was able to overcome quite comfortably. However, she mentioned that when you decide to go abroad, you have to be open-minded. She would recommend dentists that consider moving abroad to not be fixed just to their own ways of living, working and dealing with things. You have to stay true to yourself, of course, but you need to adjust to a new country and find out how to live there and become happy with your surroundings. It is not an easy journey, and she went through many challenges starting with the language, housing, getting used to the new systems at work, going through the pandemic, not being able to visit her family and friends for a long period of time because of the lockdown, but she stay focused on why she left her country and started a new life in the Netherlands: a good job and a good life!
Because she is Croatian, and she loves her roots, she wants to share some tips to the dentists specifically from her country: “Be open to the experience of starting something new, don’t be scared to make the step forward if you don’t want to be stuck forever. I never felt as appreciated as a professional and person as I am now. I have a stable life, in a safe country, I don’t have to be stressed about not having a full agenda of patients, and at the same time I can live a full and happy life!”
In short: just do it!
And what next..
In the future, Tomislava is planning to buy her own house in the Netherlands. For now, she wants to stay for at least 2 or 3 years at her current home, but you never know what can happen. As a professional she wants to focus more on prosthetics and crown work so she can offer the best care to her patients.
Tomislava definitely wants to enjoy every moment that the life in the Netherlands offers her. She is excited to see where she will be in couple years. But she knows that it will be in the Netherlands.
Are you thinking about following in Tomislava’s footsteps by starting a dentistry career in the Netherlands? Get in touch with me at email@example.com and we’ll discuss the possibilities!