"What was special while coaching, was that I shared with some all the feelings of disappointment, anger and frustration of receiving the ‘’we regret to inform you…’’ and with others, I shared the feelings of stress, anxiety and insecurity of living in the limbo phase. The phase when you don’t have any clear objectives of what you want to do. So, I was able to sympathise genuinely and share my lessons learnt and best practices."
Coming to Sweden in 2013 was not my first spouse relocation with a multinational company, and I knew exactly what it meant to be uprooted from my family and friends; stepping out of my comfort zone of steady routines, relationships, and job; and throwing myself into many unknowns.
Well...! I considered myself lucky as I landed on what I thought was ‘’the perfect job’’ only 6 months after. What I did not realize was that I had to learn a new culture and new ways of working through a real-life training and by applying the ‘’trial and error’’ formula in the workplace. I encountered a lot of surprises and disappointments, but the biggest realization was that I was neither satisfied nor fulfilled with what I was doing. So, I quit my job. Here I stood, wondering if I have lost 6 years of my life in Sweden in vain, and restarting another chapter with no idea about any next steps.
After that, I spent more than 2 years of ups and downs, hope and despair, joy of being closer to my kids and fear of being disconnected from the professional world. These were only some of the feelings I grew while looking for a new purpose to my life.
Then, magic happened when I found out about the International Citizen Hub of Lund (ICHL) through random internet searches. Covid-19 was prevailing, and I started to attend the online events which were very convenient for my introvert character. When life got back to normal, I was hesitant to go and meet people face to face as I did not know how or where to start mingling. But, given the nature of the ICHL service, I immediately felt the warm welcome and friendly atmosphere as I walked through the door. After a few meetings, I knew that I wanted to offer more than just being a participant.
When I was given the chance to volunteer, I was willing to take an active part in helping people immerse into the very particular and unique Swedish culture.
I assisted in online events, collecting, screening, and conveying the participants’ questions to the presenters. I have also conversed with newcomers during ‘’City Walks’’ and helped many to share their challenges, concerns and to feel that they are listened to and supported. But the closest experience to my heart was the drop-in sessions where I used my own experience to coach job seekers on adapting their resumes and cover letters and tuning their LinkedIn profiles to be more visible and better perceived in the Swedish job market.
What was special while coaching, was that I shared with some all the feelings of disappointment, anger and frustration of receiving the ‘’we regret to inform you…’’ and with others, I shared the feelings of stress, anxiety and insecurity of living in the limbo phase. The phase when you don’t have any clear objectives of what you want to do. So, I was able to sympathise genuinely and share my lessons learnt and best practices.
Having been a volunteer in the ICHL appears (from the outside) as ‘’Me lending a helping hand’’ but the fact was that through volunteering, I was able to uplift myself and go out of my shell of small and limited community. I was able to challenge my own introvert personality and connect with the bigger circle of a society that I never thought I could even approach. I made new friends with whom I discovered common interests. I developed the natural sense of accomplishment and pride which increased my self-confidence. I got my mind off worries and frustrations during my job hunt, and I was able to keep my positive view of life and better identify my future goals.
To me, the ICHL is a community where everyone is welcome to develop new social and professional skills, to network and make new friends. It is a solid support system that combats depression especially during winter. It is a place where newcomers can gain knowledge about Swedish culture to enjoy their new home. It is an institution where job seekers can build upon the skills they have already to fulfil their passion.
Always proud to be part of ICHL.
/ Noha Kerkor