Stephanie Fogel in Vienna
I am a GGI because...
I love the daily challenge of living in a country where the language isn't your own!
My GGI journey started back in 2008 with a one-year internship in Paris. I hated living abroad for the first 6 months, then something clicked and I was in love with Paris, with travelling, and with living abroad. Since then I have lived in Lille, Vienna, Los Angeles and London.
London felt like a step backwards for me since the UK was my birthplace; I missed living in a foreign country and speaking a foreign language everyday. I am currently based in Vienna again and am enjoying being back "home."
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
Currently in Vienna for work. I left this amazing city in 2014 and just made my way back in October 2016.
How has GGI affected or impacted your life or the lives of others?
A friend introduced me to GGI in 2013 while I was living in Vienna. I fell in love with all the posts from GGI HQ because they were so relatable. I felt like I had finally found my tribe, those women who were like me.
Women who loved to travel and live abroad but also women who knew what it was like to have people in your life who couldn't understand why you couldn't just stay in your home town and be happy. Women who knew how it felt to move far away and feel so liberated at shedding away who you thought you were to become into who you were meant to be.
That, for me, is why I loved GGI and wanted to get involved.
Knowing what you know now, about this lifestyle, about the world and yourself.. What would you go back and tell your younger self?
I would say, Steph, it's OKAY to be different to your family and friends. Stop trying to fit in. It's okay to want different things from life.
You should be proud of your ambition and dreams of seeing the world and when you start living those dreams don't let people make you feel guilty for moving away. It'll be hard missing family celebrations but it'll get easier.
Your mam will still be your rock wherever you are in the world.
Ignore those who think you look down on people just because you decided to live a different life to them. Don't worry so much. When you're older, being really smart is actually cool and you will have an apartment filled with books like you always wanted. You'll even painstakingly ship boxes and boxes of them across Europe.
Be more confident. You've got this, girl. Oh, and one more thing: be prepared to leave pieces of your heart everywhere you go. You will fall in love so many times with so many cities. You're going to love it.
What are your thoughts on 'settling down'?
I used to think I wouldn't want to settle down and truthfully, it scared me because it's tough starting all over again each time you move. But for me, I found somewhere I loved so much that I did imagine myself settling here.
Of course I will still travel, but for now I am very happy to settle here in Vienna. Kudos to the eternal nomads though!
What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?
At the risk of sounding like a Nike ad, just do it!
Don't worry if you freak out. GGIs get scared sometimes but it comes as part of the package. Once you make the move you will feel so liberated and empowered. The world IS your oyster. Make sure to take a step back and congratulate yourself; it takes courage and bravery to move your life to a new country.
I had been living back in the UK for two years when I had an interview for a job in Vienna. I wanted to move back to Vienna so much but when I got the job offer I was terrified. Life was easy in the UK because I was born there and knew the language and how everything worked. Thinking of uprooting again and moving back to Vienna now that it was actually happening freaked me out.
I sought the advice of 3 amazing GGI CM's (Community Managers) who were, as fate would have it, all in London at the same time. I actually felt a little embarrassed saying I was scared, especially because at that time I was the CM for GGI London - what kind of GGI CM was I if I was scared to be a GGI?! One of the CM's made us count up all the times we had been freaked out thinking about uprooting and starting anew. Yep, you guessed it - we had all been there several times before.
So, freak out yes. But don't let it stop you from doing it!