Challenges of Expats – Interview with Lana Kristine Jelenjev
Arriving in a new country is such a change, and how to feel ‘’at Home’’ can be a challenge. How can an expat integrate easily?
In my goal to support people with confidence and languages, I hear many real-life stories. Through these interviews, I hope you find inspiration to fulfill your goal!
This month I introduce you to Lana from the Philippines…!
Original country: Philippines
Expat countries: Indonesia
Current country: Netherlands
Your story in a nutshell:
I came to the Netherlands for love. My husband is born and raised in the Netherlands and I was working in Indonesia at the time when we met in person (we’re a product of the internet age and ICQ has brought us together!). When I was in Indonesia, I worked as a staff development specialist for an international preschool, training their teachers on child development topics.
The decision to move here was purely for family. I wanted the kids to have roots and to be settled in an environment that they can call home. So work was not a priority at that time. I became immersed in the world of parenting and I love it. I love the opportunity that I am given to be present for my kids for much of their early childhood.
I still do consultancy projects for international NGOs or schools but for the past two years after my diagnosis with breast cancer my focus has been to reconnect with myself. The treatments and the health scare have somehow forced me to re-learn how to take care of myself, what it means to be engaged in life and how I can share the insights I learned with my family.
Nowadays I give engagement coaching to my clients. Most of them are women entrepreneurs like me who are juggling the life of business and family and who would like to be given space for their ideas and help with accountability.
Biggest challenges: My biggest challenge was going through an illness in a land where most of my support group (aka my family) are not around. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded though with women who gave me presence, provided support for my family and cheered me along the way.
Overcoming fear: Naturally, being ill with cancer brought in a flurry of fears. One that we dealt with on a daily basis as a family is on the fear of death.
How we approached this is much like how we approached life. We made it something tangible for the kids, we made it a natural discourse at home. This is where the idea of why it is important to define one’s family culture came in. Because we found ourselves (me and my husband) peeling through cultural and familial practices that we got from others and started working on what is important for us as a family.
Where you find inspiration from: I find inspiration mostly from my children. They are such a big reflection of who we are as parents and individuals. There are times that I can see myself strongly with my daughter that gives me a sense of pride and at times make me wince with regret (the “oh she most likely got that from me!”)
How you stay motivated:
How I stay motivated is through intentionality. I became more intentional with the people I surround myself in. These are the people that propel me to move forward in life, to be the best possible expression of me. Rohn said, we are the average of the five people that we meet. I like to capitalize on that by having people around me that nurtures my relational, spiritual, and mental growth.
What are your words of Wisdom?:
One of the women that highly inspired me is Michelle Ghilotti Mandel specially with her words “own the energy you bring in the room”. I have kept that to heart and sets it as my daily intention of owning the energy I bring in with my interactions. Be it with my family, my friends, my clients or the people or places I am in. It’s my definition of being present in life.
Please tell us your important TIPS when moving to ANY new country:
For those just coming here and settling in, what I can share is the importance to Surround yourself with people who can lift you up. Life in a new country with new people becomes somehow easier and more enriching when you have friends that you can call your family.
Thank you very much!
Picture taken at Shell Energy lab at Rotterdam. Lana & her family.
Interviewed by Rachel Smets