Our third health related article this week focusses on Kate Fergusson. Kate is a British specialist nurse and a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant and she moved to Nyon in 2017.
Read on to discover how she likes living in the town, but in moving here, has had to adapt to a loss of a career and professional identity. Kate has now found her feet and passes on tips on how to make the most of expatriate life, from learning the language, finding a support network, to trying out snoga! (yoga in the mountains). Check out Kate’s website here
“I moved from London to Nyon just over two years ago, with our new born baby. We relocated to Switzerland for my husband’s work and I left my career working in one of the biggest teaching hospitals in London as a specialist nurse and began pursuing a new career as a paediatric sleep consultant. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
I would like to set the record straight, the majority of expatriate women are not pampered housewives drinking Gin and Tonics on the veranda (a real shame!). Nor are we shielded from the stress of adapting to life in a foreign culture. Learning a new language, social integration and remembering to drive on a different side of the road, are just a few things to get your head around.
Regaining your professional identity
I understand not every expatriate mum struggles with this transition. However, I guarantee more women experience these issues than are willing to admit. Grappling with the loss of your career, your identity and a support network is a lot to handle. Your personal and professional identity, which has taken years to build, can take a major hit. The foundation of survival in this new environment and ensuring the transition is as painless as possible in this new life is to be honest with yourself and to find support where you can find it.
Expatriate Life – Try to get out of your comfort zone
Having officially settled down in Nyon, I reached out to expat groups and mum and baby classes and soon found lots of other mums and wives in a similar position, what a relief! Getting out of my comfort zone and attending groups was tough but making that effort was incredibly worthwhile. I can now clearly see that Nyon has a huge expat community, which is comforting and exciting, and on top of that is a beautiful little town to live in!
Photo above – Irises and the Château of Nyon.
Learn the Language
One thing I underestimated before arriving was the power of learning the local language and since taking classes this has boosted my confidence and is making my life all the more enjoyable every day. As one might expect, joining local language classes is great way to make friends and gives you a sense of self achievement, success and integration.
So, what about missing my old friends and family? What an ironic turn of events! We now spend more quality time with them over a weekend than when we lived in the same city. It’s incredible how a little bit of distance can make all the difference. We have now built stronger relationships with some family and friends as the time we spend together is all the more precious. Remember, Nyon is so close to Geneva airport (20 minutes by train), that we have never felt far away from anyone or them to us.
Despite all the positive notes above about personal relations, my husband’s job has taken its toll on our family as he has to travel on average four times a year for work, for weeks at a time, and being the sole carer at home in a foreign country is tough. I would have sleepless night’s weeks before his trips but after a while I learnt how to handle these trips and realised I was not the only expat mum going through this. I began to realise that I was doing an amazing job juggling home life, parenting and running my business. The “guilt gifts” bought back from duty free were an added bonus!
Get enough sleep!
Whether being sole carer at times, or especially when there are others to help, looking after yourself is an important part of the expat transition. As a sleep consultant and nurse I know that eating well, getting enough sleep and doing things that make you happy are so important for your health and well-being.
Remove yourself from the baby classes for a moment and make sure you are getting some time to yourself. Whether that’s skiing, snoga (yes that’s right, yoga in the snowy mountains), hiking, lake swimming or going out for drinks with a local group. Although it can be easy to forget, remember that we are in one of the most naturally beautifully countries in the world and make the most of Nyon and its beautiful surroundings. There are no excuses with the lake and the Alps on your doorstep!
For those of us that sign up for an expat life do so not because living abroad is easy, but because we love the stimulation of a challenge, it is invigorating, it energises you and makes you feel like you are trying to the most of your life and of your family. We overcome great stress and tough times through our relationships and surroundings and we better appreciate the good times as a result. Expat life has its struggles, but it is an adventure too, and Nyon is a great place to have that adventure!
Photo above and below – Snoga -Yoga in the mountains- courtesy Charlaine
Remove yourself from the baby classes for a moment and make sure you are getting some time to yourself. Whether that’s skiing, snoga (yes that’s right, yoga in the snowy mountains), hiking, lake swimming or going out for drinks with a local group. Although it can be easy to forget, remember that we are in one of the most naturally beautifully countries in the world and make the most of Nyon and its beautiful surroundings. There are no excuses with the lake and the Alps on your doorstep!”