Would you like to share your own expat story?

Here we go with mine… When I landed in Brussels 15 years ago for my new job, together with my 12-year old daughter (who did not speak a word of French at that time, but needed to go straight to school to finish her elementary education), I was thinking to myself: “Ok, I’ll stay a year, well… two maximum, I’ll take a look around and I’ll see what this change brings”.

After few years, I found out that most expats say the same! “I’ll stay for a while, see if I like it and what doors life will open for me…” And then a year passes, then the second one, and the third one, and Brussels becomes your home.

Of course, not painlessly. Nothing comes for free. It’s a bit like landing on the moon: unknown people, unknown places, different food, a new approach to work. New digital, banking and health systems. New home, new office, new surroundings. Even the weather is not the same! Not one single activity can be done on autopilot. Everything requires thinking about, even driving into a car park, or buying food. And you can’t just pop in to see your parents for Sunday lunch or go for a beer with an old buddy…

Being an expat is difficult to understand for someone who has never been one.

So, coming to Brussels is a great adventure! But moving to another country involves great responsibility (for your own future, and that of your loved ones), and can bring stress, loneliness, uncertainty, broken personal contacts, and perhaps even burnout.

And then comes the recurring question: “Do I feel fulfilled? Is this what I wanted when moved here?”

Does this resonate with you? It does with me! Very much.

How can we use the ups and downs for our personal growth?

When we take a break from the everyday rush and all the other noises and distractions such as social media, we create space for ourselves to look at our lives from a distance and to JUST BE.

When we reflect on something in a conscious way, we gain awareness and perspective. We can disarm our fears and pains and get back on track with new energy. And the solutions will follow… When was the last time when you tried to connect to yourself?

And what is your own expat story…?