Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview #1

Yes, we are opening space for interviews and testimonials too!!

We are thrilled to hear your stories and make possible to anyone else grow from them. Enjoy & feel free to contact us in case you know someone who can share an interesting point of view!

Today, we are talking to Fabiana!

Fabiana is Brazilian and moved to the US in 1999 following her husband, who was offered a job opportunity in Miami. She left her career as a lawyer behind, and reinvented herself in Florida initially as an expat wife, then interior designer. Today, she lives in the suburbs of Miami with her husband and beloved yorkie, and also runs a small business specialized in charming hospitality and organizing - VaniVanilla.

As she looks back and takes us to her journey, let's take a seat and try to learn a bit from the experiences that shaped her life in America.

Expat Wives of Philadelphia: Have you lived culture shock when you arrived here? If so, how long did it take for you to find yourself adjusted to the new culture?
Fabiana: Yes, I lived the culture shock in Miami. I know we are all different, but for me the language was a big challenge. You definitely need to learn the language. I know is hard, but learning to express yourself is a top priority. I also learned that Americans like their space, sometimes being too close means invading their privacy and can make them feel uncomfortable. In our Brazilian culture when we meet a person we give a kiss on the cheek and a hug. Americans are different. So, this was a bit awkward for me.

EWOP: Did you find any support system outside home? Was it hard to find and make new friends as part of your support system?
F: The beauty of living in Florida is that you have a variety of immigrants, especially those from Latin America and Europe. Miami is definitely a melting pot and for this reason it was easy to make new friends. We all have family someplace else so immediately making new friends was a big help. Today I have a really nice group of friends and they became part of my "family".

EWOP: Sorry for focusing on this stage so much, but since culture shock is the phase that brings more struggles than any other, we are really interested on your perspective. What barriers were the hardest to overcome, and what kind of skills and strengths did you find (in yourself) or make use in order to keep moving forward and succeed?
F: First the language. It took me few months to learn the language and a year to adjust to the new culture. I felt like I was on vacation during my first year living here. After that, reality sinked and I had to adjust myself in my new home, my new life. Second, I couldn't legally work in the United States. Only after few years I was able to earn my work visa. That was really hard. Meanwhile I was studying and trying to keep myself busy, so I embraced the American culture as much as I could. I believe this made me feel secure and gave me strength to keep moving forward and succeed.

EWOP: Would you have done anything differently?
F: No. Everything happened for a reason and a purpose including some mistakes which are also part of the learning process.

EWOP: I would consider you to be in the mastering phase, which is the final stage for expats and is characterized by belonging and fully competence of culture differences, meaning you also live these differences. In that sense, do you think of yourself today more integrated to the American culture than to the Brazilian?
F: No, you don't lose your roots. I just embraced both cultures. I love the passion and the charism Brazilians have at the same time I learned a lot with the American culture. I definitely learned to be punctual in my appointments and commitments, also to be Patriotic not only when my soccer team is playing.

EWOP: Would you say the changes that had shaped you also affected the core values you carry within or those changes were somehow more superficial? What I'm trying to say is: do you think it changed who you are?
F: No, I don't think it changed who I am or my core values, but definitely open my mind and heart for new things, different points of view, new realities. This experience makes you unique and special.

EWOP: What piece of advice could you give to someone who had just moved to the country as an expat wife?
F: Don't be afraid, every beginning is difficult. Embrace the culture, learn the language, celebrate every Holiday, specially 4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Make new friends from different cultures, and be grateful for having this lifetime opportunity. I feel blessed for this experience and everything I have accomplished so far. Blessed and grateful for my family, home and my life.


Inspiring, huh? It is a relief to find people who made it thro, building not only a place to call home but a fulfilled life. Thanks Fabi for sharing it! Let's celebrate our chances & remember, we are the change advocate of our own lives.

Peace out!