When I first relocated abroad to Madrid from the UK – a frightening number of years ago now! I remember vividly the excitement I felt at being in a new vibrant city “Abroad”.
I loved the lifestyle, the long lunches, the late dinners, tapas – oh yes!, the loud chatter of the locals ‘discussions”, the music, the roar of the Bernabeu stadium (we lived a stones throw away), the late shopping, the summer, Segovia, La Granja (I still have some fabulous paintings from there), the Guadarama Mountains (our weekend escapes especially in the hot hot summer! I could go on and on…… We had some great years.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. I had given up my career in the UK to follow my husband there. I did this only after a year of soul searching and weekend commuting so it wasn’t a snap decision – certainly not! I went into it with my eyes wide open, I knew what I was giving up, I knew overall what I was gaining, I had certainly experienced Madrid, well as a tourist at least!
So what wasn’t plain sailing?
Well, first the language, yes I took courses, infact a very serious one at the University. But I had no-one to practise on and so ‘putting it into action’ was difficult. The other students on the course were all much younger than me, in their late teens, I felt like their grandma in comparison. So as well as not making great strides with the language I didn’t make many friends either. And because my language was poor my meetings with my husbands colleagues were miserable lonely affairs, I didn’t understand and didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I just shut up, the consequence, I made no friends and it all became a rather sad circular story!
So after six months I had no friends, I was lonely, bored, home alone and rapidly losing my self confidence. I had gone from being a successful, confident training manager in the UK to a stay at home foreign wife!
But just as I was really beginning to despair of ever making any friends someone suggested I join the Madrid expat organisation. Initially I was horrified, I hand’t moved to Madrid to mix with other people like me I had come to learn about Spain and meet Spanish people, to speak the language. But I went along and never looked back. I made some friends, I began to feel normal again, I signed up for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course at International House and went on to run my own ‘small’ language business.
So why tell you all of this?
I relocated to Madrid pre-internet. I was very naive, I had never lived outside of my home country before. I had no idea what challenges I might face. I equally had no idea what and where to look for the solutions.
I want to help others in a similar situation avoid or minimise the affects of the challenges presented by moving abroad, and find timely and effective solutions. I have my experience to draw on but would love to hear about other peoples’ experiences as well; their challenges and the advice they would give new arrivals.
I have been asked to write a series of articles based on a number of interviews for a wesbite called http://www.khiruna.com
The articles will be placed on the website and will be available for anyone visiting the site to enjoy.
I have posted a list of interview questions here. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you are struggling with the question: Is a life abroad the life for me?
Then come and join my FREE Tele-seminar, Overcoming Your Move Abroad Dilemma, on June 24th at 8pm GMT – a content packed 60 minute session on how to make the best relocation decision – Hope to see you there! click here to sign up!