Being born and raised in Belgium, a country with three official languages, has surely shaped Laura’s perception of the world. While growing up, she spoke Dutch at home and learned German, French and English at school. Crazy, right?
How fascinating is it that in Belgium everything is subtitled (as opposed to dubbed). From TV shows to movies and the news, you get to hear the whole thing in the original language! At a very young age, Laura discovered how listening to the original voices broadens our perspective of the world.
“Your voice and your expressions are part of who you are.” (Laura, 15:15)
However, living in such an environment doesn’t mean she didn’t encounter friction when traveling the world. When she first traveled alone abroad, she discovered how difficult it is to express one’s emotions and feelings in a foreign language.
Now, she knows that communication is not only about words, but also about facial expressions, gestures, tone, melody… Language and communication are part of who we are.
Laura Vander Kerken is a 27 year old Belgian who has participated in exchange programs in such countries as the US, Spain, France and England. She is addicted to learning foreign languages and experiencing new cultures. Recently she and her Spanish husband biked from Belgium to Spain, then backpacked in Colombia and Ecuador, on the ultimate dream honeymoon. Laura, who is now working in the tourism sector in Belgium, plans to keep on dreaming and traveling.
After living in London for nearly a decade and having a child while abroad, Javier García Nieva and Silvia Martínez Andres decided to move back to their native Spain to put down roots and continue to grow their family and business.
Javi and Silvia had known each other their whole lives before they embarked on their journey together as a couple. Today, they live in Central Spain with their daughter and son, but it was a long journey to get here!
The couple moved to London in search of better job opportunities. The work culture in the UK, they tell us, differs from the one in Spain. If you work, you thrive. This is the main reason they left their home country in the first place: it was now or never.
“In Spain, I always felt that there was someone not wanting you to progress.” (Silvia, 12:09)
While thriving on a professional level, they also faced many challenges, especially regarding language. Not being able to express their needs and emotions precisely was definitely a humbling experience.
With the birth of their daughter in 2016 and in the middle of the Brexit turmoil, they decided to move back to Spain, where their son was born. Having lived and worked in two countries, Javier and Silvia share some interesting insights on other topics such as dealing with the taxman and universal healthcare. What was their experience like? Tune in and find out!
Our guests for our first interview of Season 2 are Olga and Pavan Gulati, who in 2014 launched Juno Health & Wellness in San Francisco. Their goal is to promote integrative wellness using a holistic approach through educational courses and retreats. They provide their clients with specific tools they can use to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Olga, having survived an eating disorder herself, gives us some insightful reflections on how the birth of her daughter and the founding of Juno Health & Wellness inspired her to overcome her own illness. Today, she supports others in their search for balance. She and her husband Pavan also take us through their creative process and the first steps they took when founding their company. Having lived in San Francisco and Olga’s home country of Colombia, they moved to Alicante, Spain, where they have lived for the last two years along with their young daughter.
“Let’s just jump! We’ll figure it out when we land.” (Olga, 22:30)
Olga is a psychologist, life and nutrition coach. Since 2009, she has been dedicated to helping people heal mind, body and soul from an integrative perspective. Pavan has a background in science and today he is the creative director of Juno Health & Wellness.
For more on Juno Health & Wellness
Dealing with Cultural Clashes –
Season 1 kicks off with Agnieszka, a Polish mother who is raising her two young daughters in Cuenca, a small city in the heart of Spain. As a mother living in a foreign country, there were some topics that Agnieszka had to look at from a fresh point of view.
“We have a cultural clash, let’s talk about that.” (Agnieszka, 08:51)
For instance, it is a common and widely accepted tradition in Spain that parents pierce the ears of newborns if they are girls. This idea shook Agnieszka to her core! It took a shift in power as she stepped into her new role as Mother, making her voice heard and choosing not to pierce her daughter’s ears.
A native of Poland, Agnieszka Koniak studied International Culture at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and met her husband Salvador while on an Erasmus scholarship at the University of Castilla-La Mancha. After finishing her degree some ten years ago, she moved to Spain. Today she is a teacher in a public school and the very busy mother of two beautiful girls: Sara and Emilia.