My Expat Story: Kathryn Thompson

My Expat Story: Kathryn Thompson

An Australian expat living in Germany

At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*

Kathryn Thompson is an Australian expat living in Germany. In 2018, her then fiance (now husband) was offered a job on a new project in Stuttgart, Germany, for at least a two year stint. After some tough decision making and soul searching (and once they knew their dog Archie could come too), they decided to say ‘yes’ to the opportunity, and packed up their life for the big move.

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?

My desire to learn about other cultures and languages motivated me to pursue previous learning and work opportunities around the world that include:

● Paris, France. I worked as an au-pair for one year after I finished high school and learnt French.

● City of Monterrey in Mexico. Studied Latin American history and Spanish language.

● Medellin, Colombia. Volunteered for a local English-language news website, where I developed story lines of relevance to an English speaking audience and translated Spanish articles into English.

● Madrid, Spain. Obtained my degree in Societal Entrepreneurship from ESCP Europe, which served as the platform for later launching my own company, Keepsnaps.

● London, England. Joined the 2012 Olympics Media Liaison Team, as a Media Assistant to oversee the global media requirements at Heathrow Airport during the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

And now I live in Stuttgart Germany, where I work as a a freelance writer and English teacher.

What is your favorite part about expatriate life?

My two favorite things have been 1: Learning the language. I’m a bit of a linguaphile, so while German was initially a very hard language to master, the more you learn, the more you come to like it. And it becomes a real sense of achievement and something to be proud of. 2. Getting to spend quality time with my husband. I feel lucky that I get to spend so much time with him on the weekends and on our holidays, whereas back home we both had so many competing commitments that we often only saw each other one night a week, and we lived together! Plus, Stuttgart is so close to many amazing European countries, we’ve been lucky to spend a lot of weekends exploring Europe.

What has been the hardest part?

It’s been a tough adjustment. People always ask me, “Have you settled in yet?” and I’ve always replied, “yeah I guess so”. But in hindsight, I certainly hadn’t settled in back in the first few months, and I probably haven’t now after one year either. It’s more a feeling of adjusted, or come to accept life here, rather than really loving it. On the ‘Ease of Settling In Index’ Germany ranked a miserable 56th place. So turns out I’m not the only one.

Add to that the common feelings of loss of community, loneliness and homesickness, and self-worth becomes one of the biggest challenges you need to face. 

Where would you want to move to eventually?

I would love to move back to Australia and settle in a beach town near Melbourne, with some space to grow vegetables and have some more animals. I’m ready for a quiet life away from the city. I think that is our next step in life.

What’s your sense of home?

I’m lucky that I moved overseas with my husband and my dog Archie, so wherever they are, I feel the comfort of home. But I also think feeling comfortable in your surroundings, confident that you know where you’re going or where you want to go, and knowing locals all make a place feel like home.

What advice would you give to first time expats?

This is a hard one. Germany is certainly not for everyone, neither is the life of an Expat Wife. So I think that before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that you are prepared for it, do your research about whether you can work and what sort of jobs would be available for you, and then make the decision together with your partner (that’s if you’re moving with someone).
Everyone said it to me, and I never believed it, but it truly does get easier. Once I began to realize I could use the time to do anything I wanted to do, I have myself the time to explore a lot of different career paths, and all roads let back to writing. That helped me have a purpose, something to focus on, a way of making money, and a creative outlet.

Find out more about Kathryn by visiting her website: www.kathrynthompson.blog or on Twitter @kat_thompson

*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at alison@globallivingmagazine.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions. Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself, the URL for your website/blog, and/or Twitter/Instagram handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world.

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