You are a woman who either lives abroad, are currently in a transition or perhaps you have returned home after many years overseas. The excitement, the changes, at times a lack of understanding or missed connections make you struggle. You find yourself feeling deflated…worn out.
You’re wondering what it is that you are doing and how you could end up feeling the way you do. At the same time you have no clue what you could do to change it. You feel trapped in your situation and wish you could talk it all through with somebody who can relate, who understands and won’t judge you.
Hi, I am Ann-Katrin van Schie … I’ve been on both sides, living abroad and returning home. While I do love to move around I am aware that the challenges that come with it will always be there. But I have found ways to feel less exhausted and overwhelmed.
I’m a Holistic Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor who works with women for emotional support when living abroad. My clients have often lost their sense of belonging, feel lonely and overwhelmed by all the adjustments, or feel misunderstood. I work with them to get clear on the areas that wear them down so they can find ways to adjust and feel at ease again.
Moving, change and adjustment are part of my life.
Growing up, I never felt at home or that I really belonged to my home country. I have dual citizenship of Germany and Sweden but grew up in Germany. Even as a teenager I always wanted to move somewhere else. I lived in the UK for a year when I was 16, reluctantly returning back to Germany to finish my school, get work experience and to study.
So, it took a while to move again but for the past fifteen years I have called Belgium, Singapore, Egypt and Japan home. Although my first international move more than 13 years ago was solo, I now move with my husband and three children. My repatriation to Germany in 2013 was one of the biggest challenges I have faced. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good place to live but I just never felt connected or at home there.
My first move to Belgium was for my job in the logistics industry and I was eager to leave Germany. It was a first step, but I always longed for a real overseas experience. So I was overjoyed to finally move to Singapore, together with my boyfriend (now husband). I felt free, excited and – very quickly at home. Although the move was personally very fulfilling for me my job started to wear me down.
I was still working internationally in a logistics company, something I used to enjoy, but I’d noticed that while I had changed personally my professional environment had not. This effected the sense of joy I had not only at work but in my private life as well. After many months of struggling with what to do, and trying to change my job situation, it all had an effect on my health.
Something had to change!
I decided to quit my job. I wanted to go a different path where I would connect more with people and I wanted to get more flexibility into my life. I also knew that knowing we wanted to have a family yet still be able move around.
I had my next steps all mapped out, was ready to register for a new education that would be more flexible and people orientated. Only, I got pregnant at the same time. So there I was without a full-time job, pregnant and fully aware that any further plans were on hold.
Looking back, it all worked out well. I started to attend pregnancy Yoga, not because I was into Yoga, but because it was supposed to do me good. Little did I know when I started that I’d get hooked. After my boy was a few months old I started my training to become a Yoga Instructor at Vyasa Yoga, Singapore. Our life stated to feel settled and calm.
While we were still adjusting to live as a family of four we then had to move country.
Having kids is a big adjustment. Moving is a big adjustment. But moving countries with little ones was a whole different story and a new challenge. With a two-year-old and an 11- weeks old baby we moved to Cairo, Egypt.
Not only was I adjusting to our new family situation, dealing with pregnancy hormones and many sleepless nights. I once again had to put all my plans on hold and adjust to a new country. Everything was so very different. Not only was the country and culture, we were as well. After all, we now had two little ones. My husband worked long hours and I felt overwhelmed by having to juggle all the changes plus the family. At times it was too much!
Yet, I knew I didn’t want to give up, I wanted to make it work, I needed to make it work. As the months went on I did reach a point when I’d had enough of being fed up! This was not the way I wanted to live my life. I changed my perspective so much that I ended up loving that country and our life there.
Two and a half years later we packed up again, moving back to Singapore. I remember feeling super excited, made new plans and quickly felt at home again.
But life is never easy, is it? So just when I felt settled and wanted to take more action life threw me another curveball.
My husband lost his job. There we were with 2 young kids in Singapore, facing the biggest challenge yet. The emotional pressure was immense. And at only 1 ½ years, into our time in Singapore, our stay became much shorter than we had anticipated. Looking for a new job, we were open for almost any country, I only told my husband “please not Germany”. A new job was foundbut yes it was in Germany. Ironic, no?
Repatriation it was…Well, it was a repatriation for me, since my husband is Dutch. I was devastated and had no clue how I was going to cope with returning to the country I’d chosen not to live in anymore. But there I was and I will admit I struggled through most of it. Looking back, I could have handled it differently. But it is what it is. Then after a long 2 ½ years we decided to move again, this time to Tokyo, Japan.
Looking back on all these years, there have been times when I felt that there was no one I could really talk to.
Some situations, feelings and emotions can be difficult to describe especially if you have a different way of living. When I spoke about the good things we experienced I was seen as spoiled, detached from real life. When I needed to vent or felt overwhelmed and said I struggle I was told it was our own decision to move, nobody forced us so stop complaining.
I had times when I doubted the validity of my experience, my thoughts, feelings, and ultimately, myself. I was judged by the way I lived my life, misunderstood and criticized as if my life wasn’t real. We may live in a different country but the life, our struggles, concerns and worries are all real, it is not as easy and spoiled as others may think.
It hurt, but I refused to let this bring me down. Rather than fighting against it, I started to realize that others do have misconceptions or at times even simply choose to see and judge me on very limited parts of my life.
With every move new connections / friendships need to be made.
Not always an easy task. Sometimes you connect quickly and easily, at other times…not really. As an introvert this means pushing boundaries. After all, your peace and joy is affected by the people around you. And people around me always seemed to have it all together, so confident and strong…But do they really or do others around me hide behind a façade, just like me?
I began to connect deeper within my circle of friends. I struggled, but I cautiously began to open up towards others who were living abroad. I was very afraid of being judged. But I soon realized that I was not alone, not the odd one out there. A lot of expats and repatriates do experience similar judgments, some sense of estrangement or loss. The criticism, problems and struggles, the having to explain ourselves and at times living between two worlds can be tiring and lonely.
It was a long and at times lonely process to reach the point where I am today. I hit a low several times but I realized that I had the ability to change. The outside factors were fixed, it was me who had to find a way to cope and deal with it all. I’m not saying it was easy and many tears were shed along the way but at the same time something deeper sparked inside me.
I want to help those who struggle, let them know they are not alone!
When we find the right person to talk to, a burden is lifted and we can experience a more positive way of living life.
It may have taken some time but after all the years I knew I wanted to be of help to others in similar situations. I was already a go-to person to talk to within my circle of friends and I connected with others while teaching Yoga. But I wanted to take it further.
At the same time, I often struggled to come to terms with my new direction, felt resistance with some friends and family members, which made me doubt myself again. After all I’d studied and worked in logistics, a proper job. But after working with a career coach, it became even clearer that this was something I deeply wanted to do.
We lived in Germany then, and the timing did not feel quite right to start another education, as we knew we wanted to move and I was pregnant for a third time. So I put my plans on hold again.
With three kids, determination and a clearer vision I used the next move to get active.
Soon after we moved to Japan I attended a telephone counselling training and educated myself further and became a Holistic Wellness Coach. I certified under IWAP – International Wellness Association of Wellness Professionals – in 2017.
In the same year I also attended a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in Tokyo, Japan. This helped me to manage stress in a different way and to focus on inner calmness and clarity. When it seems fitting I integrate elements of this into my Coaching or Yoga sessions.
To stay connected and to give back, I got active in other global communities and locally here in Tokyo. I’m co-directing the Women’s Start-Up Club at FEW Japan. I’m a local contact and a blog contributor for the global community platform I Am A Triangle.
Bringing a sense of ease to others is what drives me.
Today, I get to help women become clearer on the areas that wear them down so they can find ways to adjust and feel at ease again – whether they live abroad, transition or have returned back home.
This way of living is a life of constant re-adjustments and changes, personally and professionally.
It is filled with excitement and joy, along with worries, fears, concerns and uncountable hellos and goodbyes. We often have to not only come to terms with all that is happening for ourselves but also with our family. We can easily lose ourselves.
I’ve found my way to deal with the ups downs to truly enjoy this way of living. I love my work and am thankful for the opportunities I have to make a difference in my client’s lives.
This, is my story of how I struggled and found my sense of ease. If you see yourself in here somewhere, are struggling or feel overwhelmed then let us work together to get a sense of ease back into YOUR life! You can also email me .