Tracey Reid in Stockholm
I am a Girl Gone International because...
I closed my eyes and stepped out onto an unknown path, with adventure in my heart and my passport in my hand.
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
Vallentuna, Sweden – I’ve had an obsession with all things Nordic for as long as I can remember.
How has GGI affected or impacted your life or the lives of others?
GGI has changed my life completely; from the skills I’ve learned to the connections I’ve made, and the confidence I’ve gained. Having no self-esteem most of my life really limited the things I would allow myself to do and reach for.
Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to push forward with such a low opinion of what I could offer the world. Now, I believe in myself so much, that I’ve actually set up my own NPO to help support families who have children with disabilities.
I would never have attempted that before GGI. It is safe to say that the impact of GGI on my life is pretty huge and ongoing!
How did you get involved with Girl Gone International?
I can’t remember exactly how I found GGI. I think it randomly popped up on my FB newsfeed. I clicked the link and immediately knew I wanted to be part of it but was not really sure if I had the right skills. I remember nervously chatting with Anne and feeling so excited afterwards. I’ve never looked back! Another lovely connection for me is the fact that Anne’s mum, Gerrie, was my wedding celebrant this summer! It was amazing!
What it is like living in your city as a GGI (ups and downs)?
Most people who move to Stockholm will tell you that it is a vibrant start-up city, full of talent & innovation. Which it is! It is a city but not a city because everywhere you go you’re close to nature in one form or another! The air is crisp and the water clear. You can swim in the lakes in summer and skate on them in winter. The city is pretty family friendly, and the most striking sight for many newcomers would be that of groups of dads pushing buggies and hanging out over a coffee. It is a wonderful insight into how Sweden views family life and responsibility.
The biggest downside is probably the acute lack of decent, affordable housing. Everyone struggles to find it and it is the most stressful aspect of living here. Also, if you take the time to speak to people you will hear a recurring theme – it is the hardest city to make friends in – not just for internationals but for Swedes who move from different parts of the country. Is it a capital city thing? Who knows? But when you arrive, join a club or a meetup group and introduce yourself!
Knowing what you know now, about this lifestyle, about the world and yourself. What would you go back and tell your younger self?
Do it! DO IT! Stop fearing the unknown. Stop doubting your abilities and who you are. Allow yourself to follow the path you dream of every night. You're totally worthy!
What are your thoughts on 'settling down'?
That’s a tough one. I think it can often be used in terms which are deemed quite negative and I don’t think it is right to do so. Settling down can mean different things to different people – for me, it meant staying in one place for more than a year at a time and actually enjoying it. There is nothing wrong with putting down roots somewhere – how restrictive you see those roots is down to you.
What does 'home' mean to you?
For me, home is a feeling. It fluctuates in intensity and changes just like our usual spectrum of emotions. It can be the peace you feel when alone in a forest, the deep breaths you take at the top of that big hill, or it can be in the people we meet and the people we surround ourselves with. Home is a complicated, messy, fickle concept.
What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?
Take a deep breath and jump right in. You’re about to embark on the adventure of your life! Seriously, DO IT! Don't put it off or doubt yourself, because moving overseas will open doors (to your inner being and life direction) you didn't think possible - just keep your eyes open for the opportunities and go with the flow.
Any love stories?
Only my love for Swedish fika! It's an intense affair!