Stephanie Cook: Unexpected Journey from Munich to Austin, TX
Our special guest on The Moving Roadmap podcast, powered by Avvinue, is Stephanie Cook. Stephanie was born near Munich, Germany, and moved to the UK for a MA at university in her twenties. She met her British husband and had two kids, and in 2010, relocated to the US (California). She moved from CA to TX in 2016, then back to UK in 2017 for a year, then back to TX in 2018.
Transcripts are automatically generated and may not be an 100% accurate transcription.
Nicole (Host): Welcome to the moving roadmap podcast powered by Avvinue. My name is Nicole, and I'll be your host for the show. In this episode, we're excited to introduce our guests, Stephanie Cook, who was born near Munich, Germany, moved to the UK for an MA. at university in her twenties. Later on, she met her British husband and had two kids.
And in 2010, relocated to California from California to Texas in 2016, then back to the UK in 2017 for a year, then back to Texas in 2018. Welcome to the show, Stephanie.
Stephanie Cook: Thanks for having me. That's it sounds like quite a journey. Yeah.
Nicole (Host): Very exciting. Okay.
Nicole (Host): Learn a little about you already with just that intro, but tell us a little bit about, you know, where are you originally from and where are you now?
Stephanie Cook: So, yes, I was born near Munich in Southern Germany, a very nice part of the world. And, I usually go there every summer, my family, and, but not this year its reasons. So I'm, I'm already grieving that. yes, I, I grew up there and, I just always knew, even though I loved where I was, that I wanted to go and travel and live somewhere else.
And that's what I did in my twenties. And I have to say though, I always liked the idea of living in the UK. And so I did that. I was there for 12 years altogether and, I never thought I would live in the US. Let alone, Texas I've can be very, full of surprises, I guess, along the way. So, yeah. And so I am, I currently live in Austin, capital of Texas.
We're right in the middle of the country where all the music is from, the yeah. Excellent music, excellent food. It's yeah, it's a very, non-Texan place in Texas. It is very, there's a lot of cowboy boots and things like that, but, yeah, it's not necessarily. Like you imagine Texas when like people ask me about it.
It's like, yeah, it's different.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. I went years ago, maybe not a few years ago. Probably like 10 years ago. And I remember. At the airport in Austin, I was just like, wow, there's so much music focus here. It was like, this is like an entertainment center, not an airport. So it's pretty cool.
Stephanie Cook: Yeah. Usually, at least one lifespan playing and yeah. And then all the, all the guitars at the, you know, the baggage reclaim carousels.
Nicole (Host): Exactly. Yeah, it's very cool.
Great way to enter into Texas, even though, like you said, it's not a, doesn't paint the picture for the rest.
Nicole (Host): You moved to the UK, but then you said you didn't expect to move to the US so tell us a little bit about that. What was, what drove that move?
Stephanie Cook: So having said that I, I like the US yeah. Used to travel with, like, when I was younger, I traveled in the US too. I just never imagined living there, but my husband got a job offer in San Francisco and, at the time.
It was, I had just had two children. I was working part time from home. I'm kind of trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And, I didn't have a full time that I needed to leave. And so the, and the kids, and we were like, well, those opportunities don't come along very often. And I'm in San Francisco.
I mean, he wouldn't, he doesn't want to live in San Francisco for a while. And California. Yeah, near the beach. Okay. So, so yeah, I said, yes, absolutely. but thinking we'll do this for two years, maybe three, and then we'll go back to the UK. We were, in the Southeast, Southeast of London, and quite happy there.
So yeah, it was going to be just a more short term adventure. And, the two years came and went and then three years and. Kind of what you kind of missed that point where it would have been easy, I guess. And, yeah, so it was, it was to do with my husband's job. And then he, after six years in California, he had a job offer in Austin.
And again, yeah, it, he was the one kind of pushing for it, but it kind of felt right. And so, yeah.
Nicole (Host): Awesome.Yeah.
So it's a, it's the career drove the moves towards the end. Right. And then the beginning, you, you said you always dreamed of, you know, living in the UK. so very interesting change right from, okay.
My personal dream is to go here and then now a career shifted you somewhere. You didn't even imagine.
Stephanie Cook: Absolutely. I mean, I, I was wary, because I saw, I had my I'm a trained translator, so I, I used to work as a translator and copywriter and proofreader and that kind of stuff. And it doesn't matter where you are.
You can find all you need to laptop and wifi and you're fine. So for me, it wasn't, that wasn't hard to the hard decision to make. Cause I thought I can always do something.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, absolutely. So tell me a little bit, I'm curious to know, like with your move to the UK, so I'm taking you back to that journey.
How long did it take you to feel ready to move?
Stephanie Cook: So when, when I was leaving for the first time on my own. Okay. that was, Well, I was, I kind of feel like I was ready to move from age 16 onwards. I was a, it didn't. I did that. Wasn't a big, I kind of, I knew I was going to move at some point and I, it didn't take me long at all to, to make that decision, especially because I had an offer of a place at Canterbury.
University of Kent Canterbury. And I had applied with a view to start in October of the following year and they offered me a place for the October that I was applying. It was August. So I had, Oh, wow. Literally I had about a week to say yes to the place. And then, but you know, I was in my early twenties and, That wasn't very difficult.
Cause I didn't have to have to. Yeah, it's exciting. Is that good? I didn't have a think about it, I didn't have to think about shipments or anything up just packed a suitcase and off I went. And so that was a that was very quick. And, Kind of also glad that I didn't have time, much time to think about it because I had a whole year.
I might've changed my mind. So that was an easy one. I think it, I mean, it, you, as more than one person involved, it becomes more difficult.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, absolutely. We have more opinions. You have more things on your checklist to take care of. So. Definitely creates a more complex situation than, you know, just being young and free and, and just taking your simplest possessions to your next place.
Stephanie Cook: So, so anybody who is thinking of doing stuff then going abroad, do it, as soon as you can, because it's never going to be that easy again. Yeah. And also it's like, if, if it doesn't go right, if it, if you feel like it's not working out, it's much easier to then say, I'm just going to go back.
Because if it's just you, you can. Right. But if it's, if you have, you know, family, if you have kids, it's, all those things become. So much more complex. Yeah, absolutely.
Nicole (Host): So talking about the more complex moves.
So what about from the UK to the US? What were some of the steps you took to plan that move? And I knew I was career-driven. But what were some of the steps you took to prepare and pan for that move?
Stephanie Cook: So obviously move to the US, it means you have to, you have to have a visa. So your company, which is in easier one, if you are going with a company, because they usually take care of that, but the process of applying for a visa and then waiting for that to come through can be, can be lengthy in, in our case, we had, I think we, we made the decision.
The company didn't they just said, do you want to do this? And, they gave us 24 hours, 48 hours or something like that to see us, which is yes, really. And I've forgotten, I'd forgotten about that. But I recently, re-read the blog that I started at the time writing about it. And now I'm writing about that and I thought, Oh wow, that was not.
But, having said that my husband had been spending a good year or two. Prior to our move, working in San Francisco on a regular basis. So he was flying back and forth. So it wasn't completely out of the blue kind of thing. And he had said, and kind of, he had talked about it and how good it was and how pretty and how much I'd love it.
And so, I feel I was, my mind was already positive towards it when they asked us as, Oh, that wasn't difficult. And then the men to apply for a visa and that. It was supposed to, we were supposed to, we said yes in September. And we were gonna, the plan was to be there over Christmas, to move up for Christmas.
So not three months. Yes. And we had the, we had the company see that, who we're going to manage the whole logistics of it. so I didn't really think about any of that because. What you don't, you don't know, you don't know when, before you do this, you don't know what all the steps that are involved. And then we had some visa issues because there's someone messed something up with the application and we had to reapply.
And so we finally, we ended up going in April the following year. So we had about six months.
Nicole (Host): Oh, wow. Okay. And you know, my next question, I was actually going to ask, what, did you have any challenging aspects about that? So you just mentioned like with the visa,
Stephanie Cook: So that was very challenging on a mental level, because, when you, the, you, you, in that process, and as I said, someone messed up the application and it was a simple.
Thing. Like they put, they had to explain why this person needs a visa and they put the wrong salary on the job description and it didn't match up because they put, I think they moved, they moved the dots or something by one digit. And it's just something. Absolutely. Yes. So these things happen. It's just, it probably was just one person in the embassy or the visa office dealing with it that just made a teeny tiny mistake and it basically was, it was rejected.
And then, and every reapplied and yeah, so it had to start from scratch. And so that was tricky because then we were waiting for that and I'd already. I was already mentally, like, this is it's Christmas. And, we were supposed to be on a plane now and, and it didn't happen.
And we didn't at that point, know whether the visa was going to be granted. So, yeah. So that's mentally it's, it's tough because you’ve kind of said goodbye in your mind. And everyone constantly asks you. Every day. Huh? Any news are you going? Is it happening? Yeah, I was a mess and I was almost at a point where I said, let's just forget about this.
I just don't want to do this. And six months doesn't sound like a long time, but it is, that is a very long time, longest six months.
Nicole (Host): So what are some things you did. You know, just to deal with those, you know, emotional, mental thoughts you had because of this visa rejection?
Stephanie Cook: I didn't do anything, which was, was not good.
So I didn't know. I didn't, at that point, I was so clueless in terms of what could I do to support myself and everyone. you know, emotionally, mentally, I didn't. Really do anything. I just, I kind of, I went to a very kind of deep dark place, for a while and, just was hoping everything was just going to happen.
And so I think I was very exhausted by the time we actually left. Really do you think that, cause you question your question, your should I was, was that a sign that the visa didn't work out? Was that a sign that we shouldn't go and I just, you, you ask yourself all these, these things and also you because you're so ready to go and yoUSo raring to go.
And then it's hard when someone says, no, you have to wait. so it kind of zapped some of the initial energy, I think. which was at the other end when we finally got there, I kind of, I wish I'd been a little bit more fresh and enthusiastic.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. So like when you arrived, what were, where were you emotionally?
How did you feel when you arrived in San Francisco?
Stephanie Cook: Emotionally, yeah. Good. That's a good question. I, I was still had all the excitement, but, it was. Because things were, we had planned it all so that we could weave all the Christmas. So we'd have the kids in school after Christmas, January time, maybe something like that.
That was still, well, the younger one was in preschool, but the older one was in elementary school. And to have some time to do that. And obviously then we moved in April, which means that the US school year was coming to an end. So that, that added a whole lot of stress. To the process because I felt I had to get everything done even quicker.
I didn't have that time because I really wanted us to go and the kids to go to school and make friends. That was my main goal. And I was so fixated on getting, getting to the US finding a house, getting starting our life. And it's almost like I tried to do all that, in April. When I thought I would have a few more months time to do it.
And I put a lot of pressure on myself and, and you know, my husband to, you know, find the house and, and just get on with it because I wanted everything in my mind. I had, I felt like I needed everything done before, you know, the summer.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. You know, that's definitely something that, you know, expats tend to do when they're moving abroad.
It's they put a lot of pressure on themselves to get everything done in a certain timeframe because the last thing you want to be doing is. Trying to finish up your logistics and relocation and then also settling in, right. There's that period. You're just like, I just want to be settled.
Nicole (Host): And, and so that's really interesting now, hearing your perspective and, and understanding too, you know, not every relocation is a perfect experience.
As a matter of fact, in most cases, it's not. but there's an emotional draining that does happen because. For many people, they've never experienced having to move abroad, especially for listeners who are considering to move abroad. So it's, it's good to understand that side because there could be that, you know how you said you went to a deep, dark place, there's an emotional challenge.
It's stepping out of the comfort, of what you're used to and your comfort and there's that transition period. So having that in mind, as you plan your move is really important. Yeah.
Stephanie Cook: And also going to be my next? Yeah, I think had I at the time, cause I, you know, when you do this for the first time, you really don't know how you feel and you don't know how difficult it is to do all these things.
And, I think the whole fact that we didn't know whether it was going to happen for so long. And, but we're kind of waiting that didn't, it didn't help. But, also had I known to actually get more support. It might have been a different process. I mean, we got there in the end. It was, it was a good experience.
And you know, I learned a lot about my, my own strengths, getting things sorted and doing that, but I was so exhausted and we had a relocation company. That was hired by, by the company to help us. But, because we didn't really know what we needed. and also what a goods company could offer. We just took what they gave us and it was not nearly enough.
And I think that my advice. Knowing all this now is to really do your research before you do this, know that you need support. You can not, even if you feel like, Oh, it's not that big a deal you will need support. And the more support you can get and the more support you can get your company to provide for you the better and had I had more time and someone, just someone saying to me, Hey, you don't need to do all this.
So quickly, it's much better if you, we break it up and I'll help you do this and we can do it like that. And then we'd wait. Instead of me just rushing in and I'll relocate expert was literally a local. A lady who drove us around and showed us houses and said, this is where the supermarket is. And, this is what you do when you need a doctor.
And like all these things that you can, it's just not, it was just not enough. And I feel that we didn't at the time, we just didn't. Know that we need it more and I'm sure we could have persuaded the company to provide more also emotional support, you know, someone who has been through that. It's very important.
I think that you find someone supporting you who has been through the whole thing. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I found it, it really is nice to have someone who knew the area. But they didn't know what it meant to be relocating with a family and to need all those emotional support and ongoing as well. You know, not just for, you know, when you arrive, but actually to kind of for the first few months, possibly.
And so that was just, they had no idea. And they just, yeah, they just wanted to show off their area and say, I can help you find these things. And that's not really what, what we needed. I, I feel I'm, I guess a lot of people and most people who do this, who go abroad and, move are very, resourceful. And are quite happy to get online and do all the research in the world.
They can do. You can find so much. And I, I had done a ton of research and that was 10 years ago. So nowadays even more way more available. And so I feel like I knew a lot, but what I didn't have and didn't know was the emotional, mental side of things. And that's where I think I feel like the relocation.
Experts accompany comes in so useful to just provide all that and not just the logistics, but really that, that whole, emotional support.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. And I always say like, relocation has like different waves, right? Like one part is the planning, the research, the nonstop checklist of getting prepared to move.
Then the actual relocation, but then, you know, after the relocation and you're, you're in your, you know, foreign country, then you start realizing, okay, I need to make friends. Okay. I need to know how to, you know, get gas, or how in the world do I do this or that, things that you're used to from your home country?
Nicole (Host): So it's the emotional support because some of it is. Subconsciously a fear of trying something new, or just like, you know, I never done it before. I'm a little nervous. and there are so many emotions that happen throughout that. so definitely the emotional support, like you said, not just immediately after, but like, you know, several months of having that emotional support, having somebody who understands what it's like too.
Stephanie Cook: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And it's this, this whole process, the moving process is stressful enough and getting the logistics, timed, right. And have things arrive at the same time as something else and, you know, finding a house so you can register for school and all those things. That's super stressful.
And, and, but it keeps you very busy. Initially it keeps you so busy, just getting everything done and then unpacking and, you know, Hanging up pictures and making them a house to home and that kind of stuff. And so you can kind of keep yourself so busy and that's, I mean, that's what I did and, and always do.
I just throw myself into all that. And, and so you don't have time to really think about your emotions and then it comes a point though, when you're just so exhausted that you. Physically also so exhausted. And then, and then, and then you're there and you're like, what the hell have I done? And that's when I feel you need, I have someone you can call someone or maybe even if someone maybe arrange it in advance.
I always thought that you know, have a, like a check-in every couple of weeks and be once a month and just have that, and know that you could pick up the phone and call that person, say, I'm having a really bad day. And what have I done? This was a mistake. And then have someone who knows what they're doing.
Not a friend, not a friend on the phone who says, I'll just come back then. Of course. Right. That's not, that's not what you want or someone, but you wanted this. So yeah, you do this now and it's not, no, you need someone who knows what they're doing. Maybe who've done the same thing and to just kind of go, yeah, I hear you.
Let's go grab a coffee and you know, I'll listen and you tell me all about it and I can help you. I think that's really what you need, that you need to know that there's someone there who says I can help you. And I think more than any of the, you know, the logistical stuff that’s really one of the most important things, Because of friends and finding friends, you can find people and go out and do things.
And again, people who do these experts are usually very good at knowing that they need to do that and they go and join clubs and this and that. But I think to have someone. Someone they can just rely on and I feel it's something that the company should provide actually for their, for their employees.
If it's a move that's, that's a company move and yeah, the company should provide, I don't want to say full-on counseling maybe, but definitely some, psychological support for the family, spouses, kids, Just to have something to fall back on. And I think that could solve a whole host of issues, especially the first year I think of moving.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, definitely. Completely agree with that. Great advice And I'm sure those listening are taking a lot of this advice and, and making sure I prepare emotionally before and after.
Stephanie Cook: It's so hard because you don't know really how you feel. You don't know how you'll feel. You don't know what you need until you get there and you need it.
And it's, and sometimes even then it's like, you know, just thinking back if you have that in place and someone, and you say, Oh, I won't need that. Why are they calling me? It's better to have it in place. And you know, some people might not need it the same extent, but I'm just the have, that would be amazing.
And, just know that you will be in situations that you did not expect. And I think that knowledge to go into that with a, with an open mind to say, I'm going to. I feel really bad at some point because I think people don't, people sometimes just don't expect it in a, in a kind of abstract sort of way, but I think it's, it's good to be prepared and just know that it's going to be, it's going to be hard.
Nicole (Host): Well, thanks for painting that picture. Cause I think a lot of people viewed, the view of moving abroad and it's just really good to get a reality check and also understand there's an emotional component to moving abroad and whatever kind of preparation one can do to be ready for that move. Whether it's.
On their own or with a family to really just know there are resources out there and their support. Yeah. So, yeah, taking advantage of those resources is really good.
Stephanie Cook: Absolutely. Because also it's not, you know, it's just like so negative to kind of think it's going to be so hard and you're gonna need a psychologist.
Yeah. But it's, it's such an amazing experience and it's like, you I'd want every, for everybody to experience it because it just adds so much to, to living, and to experiencing the world and everything. And it's just it's. Yeah, it's wonderful. But it could be so much better with a little bit more support.
Nicole (Host): Definitely. Thank you so much for that, for those tips. All right. So I'm gonna ask a random question. Where is the best city you visited?
Stephanie Cook: The best city. Oh, huh. well, my favorite city is, I visited and lived in is London.
Love London. Berlin is also great. Love it. Thanks so much for that. I think in two places.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. Great.
Where can our listeners find you on social?
Stephanie Cook: So I have a blog and podcast on the same name. My, my website is transcontinental overload. So it's that mental overload.com. You can find links to the blog and podcast on that.
There's also a form that you can, you can contact me if you want to be a guest on my podcast. I basically talking about expat stories. I love listening to people’s, experiences and, you know, the, the, all the weird and the wonderful that living life as an expert has to offer I'm on Facebook, also “transcontinentaloverload”, and on Twitter, same thing.
Nicole (Host): It's almost like the interview covers a lot of maybe your, your inspiration for these names. I love it.
Stephanie Cook: No. The funny thing is it's now it's. so I started the blog 10 years ago when we first moved and I had no idea. That overloaded stuff actually be the apps.
I just, I took them is from a James Brown. So I'm living in America because that's what I wanted to have the blog be called and one line and there is “transcontinentaloverload”. And I just thought that sounds really catchy. And I chose that. And. 10 years down the line. Now I'm like, it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I'm afraid, but it's so funny.
Nicole (Host): I love it. All right. Well, those who are listening that want to connect with Stephanie definitely go to her website, find her on Facebook or Twitter and hear the stories that her experts have to share. So thanks so much again, for being on the show. Just really nice to hear your journey, and we'll definitely be following along as we follow you as well on Facebook.
Stephanie Cook: Thank you so much. And yeah, I love it, I love it when I hear about your company. So that's all going in exactly the right direction. Love it...