Eva Kempinger is a career coach and human resources advisor with many years’ experience in the corporate and public sectors. Eva accompanied her partner to France, Germany, Italy and the United States –and succeeded in sustaining and developing her own career whilst abroad. Eva’s personal experience of setting up a new life in different countries makes her the perfect coach for expats and their partners all over the world. Eva knows what it means to live abroad and the challenges expats face.
For the past 20 years, Eva has worked as a Human Resources Advisor and career coach in international and Dutch companies such as adidas International, Nestlé and the Dutch Public Employment Services (PESs) CWI. She has a broad knowledge of different working environments and practices. Eva has a Degree in Human Resources Management and in Career advising. She speaks fluent German, Dutch and English.
Some years ago, after a couple of relocations abroad, I suddenly realized in horror: “I am lost, I no longer know who I am!” Every time I relocated, I was really well prepared. In a word, I was the perfect expat-to-be. The moment I knew I would be relocating, I started language lessons for the new place. Everyone told me to try and learn as much as possible about my new host country, to avoid that famous ‘culture shock’. I was to learn the differences between myself and the Dutch, French, American and Italian cultures. People told me it was very important to know what the locals do differently.
Upon arrival I took more language lessons in my new hometown and as the perfect student I focused solely on that local language and its culture. I adjusted, integrated, assimilated like a veritable chameleon – right up to the above-mentioned moment.
I found that I had left myself back home. I had packed my furniture, all my personal belongings and my entire luggage, but I had forgotten to pack myself. I had forgotten to be proud of where I come from; to know who I am and what I want. You can change country; you can change where you live; you can change your clothes or your hairstyle, but you always take yourself with you. Wherever you go you are always in good company. Your personality, your talents, your potential, behaviors (those things you do), your thoughts and your cultural background – they are all part of you, whether you like it or not.
In hindsight, I now know that the biggest challenge to moving abroad is to be yourself as much as possible, to be authentic and to be proud of your own background. To respect the locals and their culture by focusing on what we have in common rather than what all our differences are.
And maybe someday removal companies will also offer a ‘pack your personality’ course.