"All of these activities helped me in some way. I would even credit that they brought back my joy and confidence. Yet, I was really questioning how come I’m having such a different life experience in these two countries, even though doing more here in Sweden in terms of networking?! And let me say it aloud - I am truly grateful and amazed for all the free opportunities here! But for me the difference was in that one crucial distinction by knowing my inner goal and purpose."
We moved to Malmö at the end of 2016, almost on the New Year's Eve. The same one when half of the city lost its electricity. Talk about a blackout welcome, right?
It was not our first move. I am originally from Latvia and in early 2010 moved to Brussels, Belgium to start my own business running a Bed & Breakfast near the EU Commission. My husband comes from the Netherlands, so for him moving to Brussels was easier, at least in terms of the same language (Flemish vs Dutch) and being just a 2h ride away from his parents. But it still was a challenge. Administrative. Cultural. Integrational. To be honest, we mainly hung out with other internationals there, most of them Latvians because I got elected to run the Latvian Association in Belgium where I could use my passion for organizing events and bringing people together to enjoy the Latvian culture.
Which brought me to a realization and appreciation of my cultural identity as a way to strengthen my self-worth when moving countries. I will always have my roots, and most people respect and are in awe of our Latvian traditions and community when I tell them about it. So, it’s a great source of power for me, something that allows me to respect the beauty and value of other cultures. Particularly helpful, also, in finding common values in Latvian and Swedish lifestyles.
However, moving here made me question my identity even deeper, to really redefine it. The reason being that the move to Brussels had a clear purpose - start my B&B, the rest getting resolved under that “umbrella”. The move to Malmö was different - I was an accompanying spouse, 35weeks pregnant, excited but with no real goals or vision professionally. Yet, I knew some key elements that would help me create a life I would like, no matter where - I reached out to the Latvians living here, I was looking for a choir to sing in, I knew I gotta learn the language and I was looking for opportunities to meet and connect with people. Thus starting with the familiar & joyful passions!
And that’s where International Citizen Hub Lund came in: I joined their Kick-Start Program in Spring 2017 when my son was just a newborn. I joined a FB mom group. I started basic level Swedish lessons at Malmö Folkuniversitetet, then switched to the free version of SFI for Entrepreneurs. I joined Internationella Kvinnoförenings (IKF) Business Navigation course, through which I got granted a membership to Malmö International Rotary Club. I finished the ”Svenska som Andraspråk” levels, joined the Kulturkompis Skåne movement. Went to networking events organized by MINC, Media Evolution, Malmö StartUps, etc.
At the same time I also became the head of the Latvian Association in Southern Sweden, created a local Latvian choir and started to work part time as a Latvian mother tongue teacher employed by MalmöStad. Then I discovered and joined Malmö Kayaking Club, St.Johanneskyrkans choir and the Parent Association of the school where our oldest daughter goes to. Even started to study Mobile e-commerce at Malmö Yrkeshögskola in Swedish. I list them all in hopes that this inspires you to look up something resonating with you!
All of these activities helped me in some way. I would even credit that they brought back my joy and confidence. Yet, I was really questioning how come I’m having such a different life experience in these two countries, even though doing more here in Sweden in terms of networking?! And let me say it aloud - I am truly grateful and amazed for all the free opportunities here! But for me the difference was in that one crucial distinction by knowing my inner goal and purpose.
I never got that dream job. I am in fact creating it myself now by helping others as a mindset coach, starting my own coaching business.
I believe we become aware of the reasons for our circumstances only in review - what if this is the lesson we have to learn to move on in life?
Ilze Spigule - Buijtenweg