Can you become an expat in your own country?

That´s the question I had been asking myself after my husband was offered a Manager position in Madrid in his company about a year ago. By that time, I had been living in Denmark for almost 10 years. I speak fluent Danish, I was working in a Danish company and I felt quite well integrated into the Danish culture. My husband received an appealing offer, which in professional terms would mean a considerable step for his career.

We were also ready to start a new adventure!

We moved to Madrid in August 2015. I resigned my job, where I had been extremely happy, and grateful for all I had learned. At first, I had the possibility to take my job with me as a freelancer and later on, I was hired as a project consultant in the Trade Council of the Danish Embassy in Madrid. After this project was finished, I explored what my way forward should be as well as make balance of what our Spanish experience had been looking like so far.

On the one hand, I was determined that I wanted to continue my career. On the other hand, I was conscious of the many challenges and constraints I was facing, not only family wise but also due to the structures and frameworks of the Spanish jobmarket: Having a 1,5 years child, who had started daycare and often fell sick, long distances and commuting time in Madrid, and a lack of culture of intensive work schedules, part time positions and flex jobs are some of the examples.

The big choice of dual careers

Very quickly I realized that I was trapped in the dilemma that I always had heard about, but never really faced: full-time career or family. I had to be realistic and find other alternatives which could allow me to still take care of my child, while advancing my competences and maintaining my identity.

And that´s where in all this process I heard about the platform here we are and the idea behind it through a friend on LinkedIn. Reading about it, I thought it was an excellent initiative and somehow I couldn´t agree more about its approach to the dual career dilemmas when moving abroad. I decided to contact them and collaborate from my own experience here in Spain by providing my feedback and ideas from what I had been through. I also used some of the tools and matrix framework to better define my future paths within different fields. Here we are has not only been an important source of inspiration for me and a source to keep up my motivation and fighting spirit. It has also allowed me to get in contact with experts and professionals within my field of expertise.

International companies offer attractive expat packages to their employees, but from my point of view, their approach to following partners is still very conservative and traditional. We need platforms and initiatives as here we are to link likeminded professionals around the world. It is necessary to provide and inspire moving partners with useful tools and frameworks prior to departure to be able to redefine your professional identity at an early stage and here we are has a  key role. After all, the moving partners adaptation in a new country is one of the keys to make this whole experience a success.

Anna Maria Escobar Fibla is Environmental and Social due diligence expert within the financial sector working as a Freelancer. Anna Maria is currently based in Madrid, Spain and Focal Point for here we are.
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