Welcome to Relocation Recap, a regular feature on the Health & Wellness Revolution blog
Sharing relocation experiences of women
from across the world
Feeling alone is a common challenge of relocation.
This interview series aims to shines light on the many ways you can feel more connected, inspired and capable when moving from your comfort zone to somewhere new and unfamiliar.
You may well read about someone who faced similar challenges to your own, and surmounted them. As you can too.
If you, or anyone you know, would like to be featured in this interview series, please contact Kylie here.
If you, or they, would like to read more, become a newsletter subscriber here, and receive a free gift for doing so.
Today I welcome Maria Doyle
Where do you live now, and where have you lived?
I have also lived in Indonesia: Yogyakarta, Medan, Jakarta and Bali (Bali for a month at a time every 6 months now – woo hoo! love it!), Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Hong Kong, Dubai, India, and England.
What do you do, what ‘hats do you wear’, how do you spend your time, paid and unpaid?
mariadoyle.com – I help passionate professionals create quality learning experiences that engage, inspire and motivate their clients to create real change in their lives. Curriculum Developer, Teacher Trainer.
I’m also the Vice President of my state industry association – WATESOL (volunteer position, not for profit organisation) and in my spare time (huh?) I cook, read, play piano and guitar and keep fit cycling and doing yoga. Travel is my passion, as is photography and they take up the rest of my time when I’m not in Perth.
What have you gained by relocating?
Perspective. Cultural awareness. An acute understanding of what a first world problem is, and how to avoid spending time with people who focus on them. 5 languages (I could speak them all at one point – not any more!), umpteen recipes and a profound appreciation for how completely different cultures can be and how little I really understand about the way they all work. It’s a never ending journey of professional and personal development as you grow and change and learn more about the world and what makes it tick – it’s addictive and I’m not sure I ever want to wean myself off!
What have been some of the challenges?
Blackmail, evacuation due to civil unrest, detention as an illegal alien and medical evacuation due to multiple organ failure. Oh and being understood – not being taken for a rude, arrogant arsehole when you first arrive in country and make a fool of yourself (saying chin chin (means penis in Japanese) at my welcome dinner in Japan then promptly filling my glass up myself – which tells the table they’re a bunch of selfish bastards for not noticing my glass was empty – whoops!).
What have you learned, about yourself and about others?
For the love of all things holy I could talk for HOURS about this – that everyone is on a journey, and it is impossible to judge when you haven’t walked and will never walk in their exact shoes. Culture, language and responses to life in general are so inextricably intertwined it is a miracle people of different cultures can learn to understand one another as well as they do.
What would you have missed out on, had you stayed in one place?
Life in general. Perspective. God, such a loaded question!
Did your physical and emotional health improve or decline after relocating?
Both – depending on the country. In Japan I was the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been due to an amazing diet and having to ride a bicycle to most of my classes where I’d run around with kids half the day. Kiribati, no fresh fruit or vegetables, I ended up 20 kilos overweight from copious amounts of bread and beer, which ended up resulting in multiple organ failure.
What did you do to feel as healthy, capable and happy as possible while relocating?
Join community groups, sporting clubs or places where you’ll meet and mingle with locals and other expats. Stay in touch with home but don’t burden them with your relocation woes – they rarely understand it and it distresses them knowing you’re unhappy. Reach out to other expats who have been there longer and milk them for as much info as you can about the culture, language and what’s worth doing around town – learn from their mistakes and always be open to learning something new and repaying the favour with newer people who arrive after you.
When and if you experience self-doubt, fear or stress, how do you embrace these feelings and move on?
Beer. Ha ha. Yoga works for me – getting a good night’s sleep, staying off the booze and keeping up with regular exercise. Letting myself ‘feel’ what it is I’m feeling knowing it too will pass. Writing about my experiences and putting a positive spin on anything that befalls me – what was the learning experience behind it and how have I grown because of it? Keeps me sane!
Invariably the first week or month of a relocation yields a really funny story – sometimes only in hindsight. Do you have a tale to share?
For the love of all things holy I have LOADS. See Japan story above. I also called a new baby KOWAI instead of KAWAI (scary instead of beautiful) and had to keep my shit together when the Japanese business men asked me when George Bush’s next erection was due (Japanese speakers struggle with differentiating R and L sounds). Hilarious. They couldn’t work out why I was going purple in the face until I wrote both words on the board, asked them to look them up in their dictionaries, circled erection, then told them that’s what they had said. Mortification all round.
What would you say to others contemplating a relocation?
Do it. Best decision ever. If all else fails you can come home – but if you never ever go, you’ll never ever know….. give it 3 months in country before making a decision – then decide to give it another 3 months before you’ll definitely make the decision (unless it’s a total no brainer) – those first 3 months are the hardest and culture shock is a total head breaker. Be as prepared as possible before you go but know that nothing actually prepares you for getting there and starting a new life somewhere new. Grow into it and don’t expect too much of yourself straight away. You’re allowed to cry and feel uncomfortable – that’s where the best growth comes from so when it happens? Just run with it 🙂
What would you say to yourself if you were contemplating another relocation?
Do I really need to do this 13 times?
What’s next for you?
Living a month in Ubud every 6 months – so I can have the best of both worlds – a gorgeous family, friends and home in Perth, and the serenity, peace and self care opportunity that Ubud provides me. Bliss. 🙂
Thank you Maria!
Now back to you, dear reader – are you contemplating relocating?
Check these extra resources out:
Your Relocation Solution (the book): be healthy and happy, wherever you are. The ultimate guide for women wishing to feel connected, inspired and capable when moving from their comfort zone.
Healthy Relocation Coaching (one-on-one)
Free Resources (articles, recipes, tips – including an awesome moving abroad checklist)
And please comment below, your thoughts, ideas, experiences and challenges are welcome and appreciated.