Back in the game

December 08 2023 - Living the expat life, Serious Business


I cannot predict the future – no one can. But it’s always nice when, based on previous experience, you can predict what’s to come. And then it does.

In my earlier blog last August, I wrote about how relocating is like going back to the base of the pyramid – the one used in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. And how the second year after a move is about reaching levels 3 and 4, finding love and belonging in a social network and friends, regaining self-esteem through newly acquired skills, and feeling recognised and respected.
Over the last few months, we have been incredibly busy doing just that: finding our feet at levels 3 and 4 of the pyramid.

Finding a feeling of belonging was not that difficult, being part of the United World College community with some great and caring people around us. But what about outside that community? Anyone who’s ever worked with Dutch people knows we like to keep “work” and “private” separated, which is impossible in such a small community bubble.
Luckily, we have also started to grow friendships outside that little bubble – with some cosy dinners as a result.

But what about hobbies?  Yep – taken care of. It took some more effort, but since September, Hendrik Willem has been back to doing what he loves most: playing football. No matter the pain and suffering the next day (yes, we are getting older!), he loves to be part of a small group of football-playing friends. And yes…, the third round is also taken care of.
And I have been re-discovering my passion for singing since I was admitted to the Mostar Rock School. Getting technically better and more confident under the professional guidance of Monika – this “old rocker” might soon be climbing a stage!

That leaves level 4 to conquer. I think here the saying “never waste a good crisis” applies to Hendrik Willem. When you work in the leadership team of an international school, and parts of the world are catching fire, it does not go unnoticed. Emotions, questions, disagreement and personal trauma quickly become a storm that must be navigated. While not easy, it helps to learn and grow as leaders and human beings.

For me, level 4 had something different and entirely unexpected in mind. Being my own “boss” for some years has been attractive, fun, steep learning and a bit lonely at times.
And now I am suddenly part of a team again! Heading up the Development business for Pareto People in Dubai while simultaneously keeping Follow the Adventure rolling has been incredibly busy but rewarding; it seems to work out as a perfect combination of having the energy and dynamics of a super-engaged team around me while I can still boss myself around 😁.

And so, after the turbulent past years, I think it’s safe to say that “we are back in the game”.

We are wishing you all a lovely festive season and an adventurous 2024!