I meet so many cool moms! This series gives them a chance to share their stories – to inspire others and to sometimes give us all a chuckle.
Parenting is not for cowards and parenting abroad can be next level. If you want to share your story, please get it touch with me. I’d love to feature you.
Kira and I have worked together on a few projects, supporting English-speaking expat families in Germany. I’m very excited to share her story as a Third Culture Kid but also as a fellow entrepreneur. If you are a new (or expectant) mother in Germany her business Gravidamiga is a wonderful place to go for community, support and oodles of knowledge and TLC.
How did you get to where you are today?
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I was raised bilingually in a mixed Filipino / German family close to Hamburg, Germany, we always had lot of international visitors from all over the world. This definitely ignited my wish to travel and get to know other countries.
After spending some time in England after my A-levels, I more or less accidentally moved to Japan after my studies in economics. I visited a friend, got offered a job and well, why not? Right? I fell in love with the country and the people straight away and moving there as a single was one big adventure with no responsibilities except to myself.
Thinking 3.5 years was enough and with my parents moving back to Europe from the Philippines as well, I started to work in Stuttgart as a European Key Account Manager for the multinational logistics firm I was with already. This still satisfied my thirst for travelling and working internationally.
As I’ve been into sports my whole life, I decided to get some training in this area, too. I became a group fitness instructor, followed by body-mind training such as Yoga, Pilates, BodyArt and much more.
With the birth of my daughter (I can’t believe she’s a teenager already…) I stopped working in the corporate world, as the long hours and the work just didn’t fit with family life, and I focussed on being a trainer.
Starting my business
In 2018 I took a leap of faith and founded Kiramiga – beyond relocation. I met so many expat moms in my courses (meanwhile I was teaching in English and Japanese), who had so many questions about daily life here in Germany. They had no one to turn to and some of them had a really hard time just dealing with the simple stuff.
My idea was for the companies to pay for real integration for expat spouses to make it easier for the whole family – as we all know spouses are the support behind the working partner and deserve more attention. Getting ready to approach the companies, the pandemic hit and no expats were/are relocating to Stuttgart, Germany anymore.
With my experience and Dr. Christine (ObGyn) in my team, we soon realized the expat families already in Germany with small children, planning to or being pregnant needed a lot of support and often felt lost with this whole new, emotional situation. We are mothers ourselves and it was scary even knowing the language.
So again I took the courage to create another brand – Gravidamiga – pregnancy & babies, which we totally concentrated on in 2020 and finally Dr. Christine and myself became partners in 2021.
To wrap it up – here I am, doing with love and compassion what I do – helping others, writing blog posts, learning about social media, teaching pregnancy and postnatal Yoga, postpartum recovery courses and getting training on a few more skills to offer to our community & customers. Stay tuned about what is coming up!
What did you want to be “when you grow up”?
How is that different from today’s reality?
Superinteresting question as life takes so many turns. I always wanted to be a physiotherapist, but somehow I ended up studying economics and working in logistics and climbing the corporate ladder. As you read in the intro above, life happened and here I am working not as a physiotherapist but somehow in the same field with the same intention of helping & healing.
How do you spend you days?
Work and more work at the moment. Setting up a business involves so much commitment and yes again – work, especially behind the scenes.
Then of course my other job is looking after the kids, home-schooling (at the moment), tidying, cleaning, cooking and shopping – well the usual things that are often not counted and noticed as work, but they are WORK and often this job is enough already.
And if I have a little time left, I do a workout of 20 minutes for myself and I religiously meet with friends for a walk.
What is something you recently learned that really surprised you?
This sounds a little strange but I learnt that I know a lot – more than I thought I knew.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Go more with the flow but look left and right; not to get worked up about certain situations or people.
What was the best advice you ever got?
Necessity is the mother of invention / Face your fear and you fear no more – both from Lola (my Grammy) and my Mom.
When did you first hear the term Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Cross Cultural Kids (CCKs)? What did you think of it?
I didn’t realize that there is a specific term for me being myself a TCK or cross-culture-kid and honestly, I never thought about being one before I met you, Anna.
I always thought it is not a big deal, but hey yes, it is, being influenced and raised in or by another culture. I think there is a lot I can still learn or understand about myself.
I think I am also unconsciously raising my kids more internationally minded without having thought about it. I am basically German as well as my husband and we are living in Germany, but then again, I speak English to the children and there are a lot of international influences in our house and of course because of my Mom / their Grammy. What I realised early on is that some of the German friends did not understand how I could speak English to my kids – that was kind of irritating as I never questioned it.
What’s the one thing you are thrilled your child will have or be by growing up as CCK?
Learning about the importance of other languages & communication, being open-minded & curious towards other cultures and people, broadening their horizons and building resilience.
Do you have a favorite food or drink from your time abroad that has become a family staple?
RAMEN – you cannot beat Ramen on a cold day or if you have a hangover… especially after having had too much Umeshu (best summer drink ever basically plum wine with soda on ice).
What traditions or rituals from your host countries have you adopted in your family?
Not from a host country but we nearly ALWAYS have warm & ready rice in our rice cooker.
I would never go without a rice cooker in my kitchen. And I regularly ‘clean out’ the house by burning white sage – a tradition I took over from my Mom.
Share a traveling-with-kids moment - crazy, scary, heartwarming, got lost, best trip ever...
After we spent a crazy fun day at Tokyo Disneyland it was time to for the last ride. And the last one was one too many. So my son started throwing up which is not a big deal as it can happen BUT immediately two Japanese helpers came up with bags and tissues and what not. Helping him and us, cleaning him up and finally bringing over a wheelchair for the tired boy (he was 7) to wheel him to the exit. Just imagine how he celebrated that. I was so impressed with their friendliness and helpfulness.
Same trip towards its end our kids very politely asked us, if we had seen & visited enough shrines & temples 🙂
What was a big culture shock for you? How did you handle it?
With a lot of my expat adventures happening when I was young & carefree, I was always super open-minded and very flexible and therefore I had no big culture shocks. Also, as I learnt from Anna now, I was a cross-culture kid basically from the age of 3. Relocating would be very different and much more difficult now with a family to think of & care for.
So I want to compliment all the families moving around the world. Honestly, I’m not sure I could pull it off.