Expat, repat, international.
Whatever you identify as, I bet you and I have things I common with our stories.
I’m 40 years old and moved back “home” to Denmark about 6 years ago.
The reason for the air quotes is because I never grew up here. So it didn’t really feel like home when we first returned. Though technically Danish because I was born here and both my parents are Danish, I have spent most of my life living abroad in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, the Philippines and the UK.
I grew up as an expat living in a lot of interesting cultures and learnt so much from each place I lived. Each place was unique and had as many pros and cons as the next place. I loved trying new foods and meeting new people from all over the world, but I also know how lonely it can feel when you first move somewhere new and how you can feel like a bit of an outsider until you get to know the ways things are done in each place. If you yourself are an international, you will know what I mean. There are definite plus sides and down sides to moving a lot.
It can be especially hard when the new place has its very own language. Things like reading labels on food at the supermarket – a small thing we normally take for granted – can suddenly become quite daunting or complicated.
Having spent my whole childhood in other countries because of my father’s job, it seemed somewhat natural to move back home to Denmark when starting my own family. We wanted to settle down somewhere. Denmark seemed a natural choice since that was where I was from and I spoke the language fluently. I wanted that fresh Scandinavian air for my son’s childhood! I had childhood memories of playing in the woods when we returned to Denmark for holidays.
However, when we first moved it was much harder than I had anticipated. We had been living in England, and on the surface the two countries seem really similar – both European, both similar climates. I had a really good job, a great education, and thought my skills would be easily transferrable.
When we got here we realised that Denmark has certain traditional ways of doing things. Not having grown up here I was unfamiliar with these traditions and it was like learning a whole new culture. I felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square shaped hole sometimes. It was harder for my husband, as he was learning a fresh new language too!
Still we made new friends, got to know our lovely welcoming neighbours.
It was still a steep learning curve though.
Sometimes I’d send my son to kindergarten in the “wrong” clothes and we were learning to dress for the weather, and sometimes learning things the ‘hard way’. It took time, and having moved to a small town mostly inhabited with local families we will probably always be considered “different” or like some of the “newcomers”.
I had to look within to see who I really was at my core and how I could still be me in this new place without giving up my authenticity at the cost of “fitting in”
Though I hold degrees from prestigious Universities in England, my qualifications were not recognised here. I had been manager for a counselling service for a children’s charity in a number of schools in England. We offered families therapy. I was told if I wanted to carry on working in psychology I would have to retrain and start my eduction again. That was quite surprising to me as well.
I decided to become a parenting coach, and work with people internationally.
There are millions of different ways to parent – just as there are millions of unique family cultures on the planet. Each home is different, no matter where you grew up or where you started.
You can read a ton of books, and have a bunch of wonderful theories and research behind what you do – but you are the one who is living YOUR unique life. You are the one who knows what lights you up and brings you joy in YOUR home. Therefore, I help parents become the experts on their own families, and get them tapped into their own parenting intuition.
I specialise in in positive self-worth in Mothers. When parents do the inner work and become unshakable in their confidence and parenting intuition, they can relax into themselves and parent from the heart.
They learn to own their authenticity and unique personalities, and know that no matter where they are they will always be “at home” – because when you feel at home in your self, you have a sense of belonging anywhere.
If you’d like an inner sense of belonging, then take a look here to read more.