While supporting expats with integration and languages, I publish these interviews, revealing personal stories, tips and advice. Arriving in a new country is such a change, and how to feel ‘’at Home’’ can be a challenge. Or not? This month I introduce you to Dominika.
Interview with Dominika
Original country: Poland
Expat countries : United Kingdom
Current country: Italy
Your story in a nutshell
My international experience started a long time ago. I have almost 17 years of international life experience. I moved from a small Polish town to study psychology at the University of Rome. My intention was to come back to my home country after I finished my studies but life had different plans for me. During my studies in Rome I met my Italian partner, and instead of coming back home, I moved to Milan once I completed my University. So from expat student, I transitioned to love expat.
Than In 2009 my partner and I moved to Manchester, the UK for a job opportunity. I became an expat partner.
And after 5 years of living in Manchester, we moved back to Rome two years ago. I experienced a sort of repatriation effect.
And now probably we will be moving again. I think once you have a taste of an international life it can be challenging to settle down in one place. You keep thinking about your next location.
Why your choice of your current country
I was always attracted to Italy. I remember when as a teenager I was watching Federico Fellini’s films and dreaming about visiting and living in Rome. And my dream came true. Even when we moved to Manchester, I was missing Rome every day!
Apart from studying in a different language, my biggest challenge was reinventing myself and starting from scratch. Every city and country is different and has different rules and policies when it comes to looking for a job or renting an apartment. For example, when I moved from Italy to the UK it took me a little bit of time to find a job I wanted so I needed to adapt (for a period of time) to the local job market requirements. At that moment there were more opportunities to find an employment where I could use my Polish and Italian languages than my professional experience gained in Italy. My background was in psychology with an experience in recruitment and I wanted to continue my career in that direction but I wound up spending the next three years in sales and customer services instead.
Also, when I first moved abroad, Poland was not part of the European Community so getting a work permit or a study permit was much harder than now. The whole process of getting and renewing my study permit every year was quite challenging.
On Overcoming fear
My biggest fear was about not being good enough. I thought that I must work hard to show people how good I am. I thought that as an expat I must work harder to show my value. Fortunately, I understood that this way of thinking will only bring me to the exhaustion and I slowed down and decided to enjoy myself more
About integration and adjusting
I integrated quite well both in Italy and the UK. I made contacts with the locals, with the Polish and also the international community. I have been surrounded by many different cultures.
Expat life can be hard and you can experience loneliness and homesickness. You can feel helpless, alone, lost and uncomfortable, especially if you are looking to build your career and life in a new country. It can take some time to build your network but it is important to take the first steps, like attending networking events, which I did.
Where you find inspiration from
I read a lot of personal development books, and I like reading inspirational stories of people who succeeded in their lives and careers. And when I feel a little bit down I make a list of my 3 biggest daily or weekly achievements and my motivation and confidence raise up.
What is your current business
I am Career and Expat Coach. After 6 years of working in different positions in recruitment, sales and customer service I decided to combine my personal and professional experience as an expat, my background in psychology and career counseling.
I completed my training in personal performance coaching, then in career coaching and opened my own coaching practice while still living in the UK. I wanted to reorganise my life to make work fit into my life instead of the other way around. I wanted to have a portable career something that I can take with me wherever I want to live. Now I help expat women seeking to make an international career change to navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with discovering their dream career and then adapting to a new country. For self-employment-minded women, I help them to design a business that matches their desired lifestyle. (http://dmcoaching.eu/)
Was it difficult to start your business in a foreign country
It was simple to start it in the UK, where you have a lot of support, training and information about how to become self-employed or an entrepreneur.
It was a little bit harder here in Italy where there is more bureaucratic stuff to do. It took me a while to find an accountant and understand how the whole process of self-employment works.
What is the worst that happened to you as an expat?
Fortunately I do not recall any unpleasant situation.
Any typical expat example of a misunderstanding or miscommunication?
When I started to speak in Italian I was confusing two words, colazione (which means breakfast in Italian) and kolacja (which means dinner in Polish). So sometimes I was telling people that I was going to have colazione at 8pm or 9 pm. They were looking at me a little bit strange. J
Your Plans for the future
I want to grow my business internationally, travel with my portable career and enjoy the life of a digital nomad expat.
Final words or anything else you wish to share
Enjoy your expat experience, whatever it is short or long term one, it will enrich you and help you to see everything from a different perspective.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country
Start Learning The Local Language before you move.
Thank you very much!
Picture taken at Venezia
As an expat myself, I have been living and working in various countries, speak 6 languages, and experienced many challenges that I learned to turn around into new opportunities.
Workshops in cultural diversity and keynote speaking is what I enjoy doing.
I love to inspire people and help them to become their best selves! Life changes, and so can you!