Challenges of Expats – Interview with Cara Crisler
Arriving in a new country is such a change, and how to feel ‘’at Home’’ can be a challenge. How can you integrate easily?
Every month, I interview expats, willing to share their story with you. You will find their personal stories and perspectives about living abroad.
Today, I introduce you to the American lady, Cara Crisler.
Original country: U.S.A
Current country: the Netherlands
Cara’s story in a nutshell: Originally a “southern girl” (U.S.A.) looking for more openness and tolerance in the world, I became an exchange student in 1991 in the Netherlands and have been in a relationship with a Dutchie ever since. After living 13 years together in North Carolina, we decided to return to Holland in 2010 mostly for our children’s sake—so much more freedom here for kids! I’m now an accredited relationship coach and communication trainer, helping people who are eager for more honesty and meaningful connection in their relationships (including the one they have with themselves!).
Challenges moving abroad: Our move to the Netherlands went quite smoothly—of course it helped tremendously that all four of us spoke Dutch already. And my parent-in-laws helped us with finding a home and school for our kids.
Overcoming fear and integrating: The first “hard-hitting” part of the move for me was the realization that because the recession hitting in 2010, I wasn’t going to easily find a job in my career path (field of community planning). I turned 40 during that time and found myself in a good ole fashioned midlife crisis. For me it looked like this:
- all things familiar were gone and my support network felt far too far away
- I found the Dutch directness very foreign and scary, and tried to avoid them that first year – so, no I did NOT integrate and adjust smoothly with the locals at first!
- none of my old behavioral patterns (e.g. pleasing, smiling, hiding my honesty, seeking harmony) seemed to be working anymore in my favor
- I felt unrooted, instable and lost, wondering who I really was and what I really wanted for myself
- I spent a lot of time feeling lonely, frustrated, and disconnected from myself and my own family
My husband couldn’t be my sole support person, therefore I sought out some needed guidance in the form of coaching and communication training.
Where you found inspiration: I found much inspiration and motivation via many coaching and communication training sessions that helped me discover the “real me.” I learned critical new skills mostly from the Nonviolent Communication model, such as:
- how to stop pleasing others for belonging/connection and to rely on honesty instead
- how to speak to myself compassionately and listen to what’s MOST important to me
- how to listen to others (e.g. direct criticism) and hear that it’s about THEM and not me
- how to get in touch with my personal needs and to come up for them (self-care first!), while maintaining healthy relationships with important people in my life.
What is your current business? I consider myself having two jobs: 1. finding daily healthy balance among all of my different roles (partner, mother, friend, daughter, sister, business owner, gardener, choir member, etc.) and 2. helping others as a relationship coach & communication trainer as founder of www.crislercoaching.com. Additionally, I give regular workshops including in learning Nonviolent Communication skills. I am passionate about helping individuals and couples (mostly those living abroad) go through a process similar to my own: discover who they really are, feel grounded or “at home,” live in honesty, and experience meaningful connection in their relationship(s).
Thank you very much Cara!
Picture taken by Melody Rae
Interviewed by Rachel Smets