Angie Weinberger is a Global Mobility Coach. She combines intercultural coaching, her long-standing Global Mobility expertise, and workshop facilitation skills into programs for Global Mobility Managers, Expats, and Expat Spouses. Angie also defines herself as an author, social media junkie and Bollywood lover. She has lived and worked in Germany, Switzerland, the UK, India, and Australia.
When Angie is not working she enjoys hiking in the Swiss countryside, watches movies and overindulges on the cooking of her Pakistani partner.
We had the pleasure to ask her a handful of relevant questions when it comes to the life of expat families!
CUKIBO: Angie, which advice would you give an expat family with small children, who just unpacked the last moving boxes in a new country. And which advice should they ignore from your point of view with a good conscience?
Angie: I would give them the same advice I give to my clients: To take small steps every day and to give themselves and the children time to adjust to the host culture. Moving to Switzerland can be daunting as the local language is hard to learn for expats. Even German children might experience a shock when they cannot communicate in their Krippe or Kindergarten. Depending on your long-term career and life plans I would seek education consultation from someone who really understands the host market such as Monica Shah (Children First Association).
No expat family has exactly the same experience as you. Sometimes it might be better to refrain from the expat bubble for a while and just listen to your heart. If your child shows serious signs of culture shock you can always consult an expert.
CUKIBO: You are a certified intercultural trainer. How can expat families with children make sure, that the bond to the original home country of one or both parents is strong and still present over time – while embracing the culture of the new domicile country?
Angie: What I’ve heard from expat families is that they maintain rituals and celebrate holidays of their home culture. Another important ritual is that you use extended home leave so your children can meet their grandparents and extended family. Most children happily adopt the host culture rituals when they make local friends and speak the local language. I think it’s important that your children do not grow up in isolation and have a feeling of self-efficacy in the new culture. In Switzerland, this is easier than in Sri Lanka for example. Language and friends are the keys in my experience. All children love games. We also made good experiences playing with and reading to refugee children. In my experience, this works universally.
CUKIBO: You lived in many different countries all around the globe. Can you share with us your favourite failure as an expat, you learned from the most?
Angie: Ohhh, there are too many. You probably know that Germans tend to be very direct. In my first stint in the UK my au pair host told me after a few months that while I was great with her kids, she felt at the beginning that I was rather rude. I didn’t know that I had to say “please” and “thank you” all the time. Another funny story happened in India where after the first week at work I was so tired that I forgot my keys at the office and the person who took care of our apartments did have an extra. So he took me on his motorbike to the next bar. We had a few beers until someone came with a key. Him, his wife and the owner of the building then became my friends and invited me to all sorts of occasions. I also made the mistake to ask my driver on Saturday to take me to the shopping area. He took me to a rug dealer and I walked out a rug owner and had four new pashminas. This driver had a commission deal and was not in our services very long. I also had to pay customs and VAT on the rug. However, I still have it.
CUKIBO: Your mission is to bring back the human touch into Global Mobility. What does that mean concretely for you and all the expat families you are working with?
Angie: We have outsourced and split up our Global Mobility processes so much that the expat family often feels like a piece of furniture. The human touch is coming back through digitalization and companies like mine where we focus explicitly on supporting the whole expat family with their career and life challenges and topics. I hope that our clients feel that also in the way we work with them. I have a work principle where I prioritize my clients over other work. We also don’t accept more clients than we can handle. And in my lectures, talks and workshops I stress the human touch.
A warm Thank You to Angie for her answers and insights!