Her optimism towards adapting to life abroad, all while raising a family and opening her own business is truly inspiring. Read her interview here:
I was so impressed when I met Julie Leonard with her philosophy on reaching a state of happiness and mindfulness to help us embrace and adapt to change, that we had to know more.
Julie Leonard – Life Coach
1. Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from Scotland and although I have traveled a lot, I have never lived abroad until I moved to Munich. I have my own business as a Life Coach and Aromatherapist as well as being a full-time mum with a toddler. I really like people, socializing and connecting people through the events I organise. But I also enjoy some quiet ´me` time in my local spa or curled up with a good book and my cat.
2. How long have you lived in Munich? And why Munich?
When I moved to Munich 3 years ago, I happily moved here for love. I met a wonderful Italian man at a wedding in Romania. He was already living in Munich and after 18 months of a long distance relationship, we decided that we would live together in Munich. I was ready for a change in work, in my life and open to a new experience and so I embraced the opportunity.
3. How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
As a Life Coach, I support many people to overcome culture shock and build a life abroad in a new country so I was aware and prepared for the move. I had been visiting Munich for 18 months before I moved, so it was familiar to me. I also was very proactive in finding my kind of places and making new friends by joining Internations before I moved, attending events while I was visiting so I already knew some people when I arrived. But no matter how positive a person you are there are always moments or periods of time where it is difficult.
Everything is different and new and takes extra time and energy…
4. Do you speak German? Describe your process for learning the language.
I am embarrassed to say my level of German is very poor! I studied for 6 months at an intensive German course as soon as I arrived up until B1 level but then stopped as I wanted to focus on starting my business and having a baby. And I found it a really hard language to learn. German grammar is tough! I was so busy that I didn’t keep up my studies. I want to learn the language and speaking German definitely helps to feel more integrated into life here. However, I work in English, we speak English at home and most people speak English here so it is easy to get by.
5. What would you have liked to know about Munich before moving here?
How beautiful Bavaria is and how easy it is to travel here. I am European (for now!) and so I have traveled in Europe but it is wonderful being in the centre of Europe and being able to go for day trips to Austria or weekends to Prague.
6. One thing no one tells you about moving abroad.
How hard normal everyday things are when living abroad. The things you never gave a second thought to at home. Everything is different and new and takes extra time and energy – buying food, finding which store sells what you want, how to read labels, using public transport, driving……
I set up my own groups on Internations and Meetup in order to do the things I enjoy…
7. Do you miss home and family sometimes? What do you miss most about your home country that you can not find here in Munich?
I really miss my family and friends, especially my best friends. What I don’t miss, is the weather in Scotland or the stressful job I left behind but I miss the friendliness and openness of the Glaswegians. Particularly when I first moved here and didn’t know many people. I could go all day without speaking to anyone and missed home where people talk to you at the bus stop, in the shop, at a bar.
8. Describe your favorite past time activities in Munich and do they differ from those back home?
Before I moved I went to the theatre and cinema often and had frequent spa days and cocktail nights. Indoor activities are big back home due to the weather and we like to socialise in pubs. Now I am more active outdoors. Munich has beautiful parks, cafes and beer gardens. I set up my own groups on Internations and Meetup in order to do the things I enjoy such a book group and a Happiness Club. I socialise more in groups now.
9. What are your favorite places to escape (restaurant, museum, shop, cafe…)?
Cafe Katzentempel – great atmosphere, delicious vegan food, and 6 rescued cats.
Museum Lichtspiele – over 100 years old, this small cinema shows OV (original version) movies and for over 30 years has shown The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday night.
Victorian Tea House – where I go to get my fix of scones and clotted cream
Westend Cafe – busy and bustling cafe that serves great brunches from around the world
My local beer garden – I love the German beers & enjoying one in the sun. They are so welcoming of children too
Aperitivo – for a nice glass of wine
Quattro Tavoli – for food and football
Tushita Tee House – over 100 teas and delicious food. Check out their Japanese tea ceremonies too.
Sushi Cent – where I enjoy my favourite food
Arabella Spa – good value day passes for some much needed Me Time
Brandhorst Museum – fantastic collection of modern art
Schloss Nymphenburg – My favourite place in Munich. You can book a gondola ride there too!
10. Tips for newly arrived expats (learning German, settling in…)
- I believe the most important way to settle in is to make friends. Having connections is so closely linked to our happiness. Join local facebook groups, Internations or Meetup – find like-minded people or find new interests
- Shop around and find the right German class for you. It’s also a great way to meet people.
- Don’t be afraid to speak in English, almost everyone will understand.
- Go out and explore the city. Take one of the free tours.
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Go out, try new things and meet people.
11: Tell us what you are passionate about at the moment.
I am really passionate about happiness. How to get it and how to keep it. It is why I do the job that I do. People come to me for a variety of reasons but ultimately we all just want to feel happy.
I run two Happiness Clubs for women in Munich where each month we discuss a topic related to happiness and I love it! I always leave feeling happy and positive as the groups attract amazing like-minded women.
Also, I organize a self-improvement book group to motivate us to read all those books we want to read but often don’t find time to read. Plus I run workshops on Mindfulness.
Julie Leonard is a Life Coach and Aromatherapist based in Munich. With over 25 years of Psychology, Health and Coaching Experience she works with people in person and online around the world. More information can be found at http://julieleonardcoaching.com/