As promised in “Coaching For Struggling Expat Wives“, we will share an interview with Kate, the expat wife as well as entrepreneur and coach for other expat wives over the next posts.
She shared her background, how she ended up in starting her own business, or advice for struggling expat wives in the interview.
Her website “SHARE THE LOVE” is also full of useful information so you can’t miss it!
-Tell us a bit about yourself (nationality, background, hobby, career before Chicago, etc)
Hi, my name is Kate, and I had moved from Germany to Chicago about two years ago. I always felt the urge to live a global life, and the United States is actually the fifth country I am living in. I love to travel, learning more about different cultures and life stories and capturing everything with my camera. Back in Germany, I was working as a business consultant and marketing manager, and while I was aiming to transfer this career to the US, my attention got quickly drawn to the topic of Expat Partner support. One can say that I am a classic Expat Partner, as we are living temporarily in the States due to a work project of my husband. I was eager to jump into that adventure of living and working abroad and learned so much on this journey that I started my website sharethelove.blog to inspire and guide other expat partners through this exciting time.
-What brought you to Chicago?
One day my husband came home with this job offer for Chicago, and as we are both very curious about living a global life, there was no hesitation. His company decided on the location, so it was not our choice, but we quickly rolled up our sleeves and said: “let’s do this.” We planned to stay for 2 years but we are already in our third year in this beautiful city now.
-Which countries have you ever lived and why? How different are they?
Next to the US, I have also lived in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan. Each country is very unique, and I lived in those great places throughout different phases of my life. Personally, I love the Asian culture, and although I was clearly identified as a foreigner in each bus ride, I always felt welcomed. I think I was able to preserve some habits from each culture. I am still thinking about the melodic Scottish conversations I had when drinking a good glass of whiskey, I love the tapas culture I adopted in Spain (although the Spanish kitchen is not easy on a vegetarian like me) and I still accept the business card from someone else with both of my hands turning it both ways to show that I care. I count Germany as my fifth country even though that is my nationality. Living abroad gives you some perspective on your own culture, and you are much more aware of it so therefore I make it count:-)
-What do you like most about the US or Chicago compared to other places you’ve ever lived?
I love about the US that people will smile at you when you are walking down the street or shopping for groceries. In the very beginning I was irritated by the small talk Americans love to do (Hi, how are you? Great, how are you?) However, I really started to enjoy these as these small daily encounters make me smile and there is nothing bad in cheering each other up with smaller compliments and the simple question of how do you do. When I am back in Germany, the cashier looks at me with a huge question mark on his face when I am adding a “How do you do?” to the normal “hello” and it makes me laugh each time.
-How do you spend your weekends or holidays in Chicago?
I love to explore the neighborhoods with my camera, sitting down with a cup of coffee, observing the people around me, or strolling through art galleries. A perfect weekend for me is a mix of great food+no time pressure +art that inspires me. Chicago is full of amazing events on the weekend, so it almost never gets boring.
-What has been your biggest challenge as expat partner so far?
I guess somehow the biggest challenge is always going back home to Germany for vacation. It can be hard to stay in touch with loved ones back home – especially when they have never actually lived abroad and do not understand the magic of it. I always need a couple of days to feel kind of home again after returning.
-What was your plan for Chicago life before moving, and how did it change?
Before moving abroad, I planned to continue in my former career path. I already organized myself interviews with promising companies and was not doubting that I would end up anywhere else than management and marketing. After moving abroad, I learned one of the most critical lessons right away: You can’t plan this! No matter how hard you try you will always face a different scenario than you imagine. In my case, it was a mix of a delayed work permit due to the change in government, an eye-opening solo backpacking trip, and the fact that only 20% of Expat Partners are working abroad. This last thing immediately got my attention, and I was hooked. I wanted to learn everything about this, thought about ways to improve that figure, talked to many other Expat Partners in Chicago but also over the phone around the world. All this effort ended in my signing up to a full-time course to become a certified coach and starting my website. You never know what life offers you around the corner when you dare to take a look!
-Is there anything you wanted to know before moving to Chicago starting expat life?
I am a big believer in that everyone has to learn his or her own lesson and I can’t coach you through this journey without making our own bad experiences. Sometimes I feel that when I am putting all the information on someone who is about to move abroad upfront, I am taking away the opportunity to grow and learn. However, there is one thing I wished someone would have told me: Moving overseas will bring change to all different kinds of layers. It is not only about a job situation, a foreign language, or the food you are eating now. Because this is what we tend to prepare for. Living abroad also brings change and indeed growth to your relationship, your view on the world, your friendships, your values, your communication skills, your patience, and tolerance… I could add to this list the whole day. So due to this fact, try to go abroad with an open mindset and an open heart and embrace change instead of letting it push you down. There will be times when you miss your friends, and there will be times where you question your career goals, but an open mind will help you grow no matter what.
Interview to be continued!