Sundae Schneider-Bean: Coaching Expats to Move Abroad with Intention
Our special guest on The Moving Roadmap podcast, powered by Avvinue, is Sundae Schneider-Bean.
Sundae is a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist serving individuals and organizations. Through industry-leading coaching and proven resources, she helps expats fast-track adaptation, create meaningful connections, and expedite success. She gets people unstuck and moving forward with intention. Sundae is also the host of podcast Expat Happy Hour, Founder of Expat Coach Coalition, and leader of FB community, Expats on Purpose.
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 Sundae, who is a solution oriented coach and intercultural, strategic serving individuals and organizations.
Nicole (Host): Through industry leading coaching and proven resources.
She helps expats fast track adoption, create meaningful connections and expedite success. She gets people unstuck and moving forward with intention, Sundae host of podcasts, expert, happy hour, founder of expert, coach coalition and leader of Facebook, community expats on purpose. Welcome to the show Sundae.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : Thank you. It's my pleasure to be here today.
Nicole (Host): We're excited. So let's get straight to it. Where are you originally from and where are you now or where have you spent your relocation?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : So I'm originally from a small town called Williston in the heart of North Dakota. So in the middle of North America, I was born and raised there, but about 20 years ago, I actually moved abroad for the first time I went to Switzerland since then.
I went back to the U S to finish my master's degree, went back again to Switzerland, then we moved to Burkina Faso in West Africa, and then quickly changed to. South Africa, short stint in Switzerland, again. So it's been a wow thing that a couple of kids along the way, I love it.
Nicole (Host): Well, so all over and some of them are even going back.
So you went. To Switzerland. Then you went to West Africa, South Africa.
Nicole (Host): Wow. That's incredible. So what made you choose to go to those different locations? I guess we'll start from the beginning, right? To Switzerland. What made you choose Switzerland?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : Well, I was backpacking through Southeast Asia in 1999, I think.
And I met this Swiss guy in Vietnam.
Nicole (Host): Oh my gosh.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : Shortly, I ended up leaving my corporate position, moved to Switzerland after having only known him for probably we've probably only spent, I don't know, eight weeks together. It might even be less. And we ended up getting married eight weeks later and that was 20 years ago.
Nicole (Host): Wow. Oh my gosh. What an incredible story. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : I caught myself. It's kind of ironic. I have a Facebook group called expats on purpose. I actually started as an accidental expat. I, I just followed my heart and I think I was hungry for a cultural, cultural learning and one thing led to another and I ended up transforming my whole life abroad.
Nicole (Host): Wow, love it. It's an expat love story. For sure.
So with your move. Okay. So that was for Switzerland. And then what made you jump from Switzerland then going to West Africa?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : So what was happening there, you know, for those of the listeners that have moved abroad and you know, how much it takes to make the move and then to get adjusted.
I had learned the language, I'd study German. I worked really hard to find a job that was on par with my professional competencies and it took me years to get there. Right. I fought long and hard and I was very happy where I was at and we had a child and one day I think we were, in fact, we might've even had two, or I was pregnant with the second one and one day my husband walked in and he said, so Sundae, I think I would like, I applied for a job today and I'm like, Oh, really?
And he showed me the paper. And before I could see where it was, he said, I think it would be good for us to live and work abroad. And I looked at him and I said, I do live, work abroad. Okay. Which was coaching in German. I had just, I mean, I worked so hard to learn about Swiss culture and the language and get a job, you know, on par with other Swiss and, and, but he was ready for a cultural adventure and I think a binational marriage wasn't enough.
He wanted even more and, And I took a long, hard look at myself cause I, you know, my I'm intercultural strategist. So my job is to support people in crossing cultures. And I thought, okay, send it. You've been in Switzerland for a while. Now it's been several years. And you learn the language you've adapted, like is that all the cultural learning you're going to do?
Because that one story of that one time I moved abroad and it was hard. It's going to get old and I need more learning. So I was ready. To go to a Francophone country in the third poorest country on the planet with my babies and turn my cross cultural kids into third culture kids. And I just knew that was what I needed to, to stay top professionally by living it, not just talking about it.
So it was a conscious decision to say yes to that.
Nicole (Host): And I guess that's really what motivated then your Facebook community, right? Expats on purpose. Cause now you made a conscious decision and you were ready for that change. How did you, how long did it take you to feel ready from that first conversation?
You know, where your husband presented a job opportunity and said, Hey, you know, we may move abroad to where you actually emotionally felt. You know what? This is a good decision.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : That was a process. I think part of the process is really important for people who are thinking about moving and one person gains professionally more than the other.
This is important. I had worked so hard to build up myself, professionally, and retool myself. I got a master's degree. I learned a whole new language. I was. Coaching C-level leaders. I had fought hard to get as, I say as a foreigner to have a job that was on par with locals and to give all of that up.
So we could have this cultural adventure. And so my husband could go further professionally and even go to a health scenario where my kids were not as secure. Right. I had to do a lot of soul searching. So there were two things that happened. One. I needed to know that I wasn't giving up my professional career.
So what I thought, well, if I'm believing, I was ahead of intercultural management at the time, the second biggest company in Switzerland. And I was like, if I am going to give up this basically a lifetime position, then this is my opportunity. To really create the business that I dream of. And so, I had to say yes to myself.
Uncompromisingly to say, I will not be a trailing spouse. I hate that word. Trailing spouse. I call it trailblazing spouse. Oh, I love it. Yeah. The more, the more politically correct. I'm saying as the accompanying spouse or company talent, I just knew I would have to show up a hundred percent for me, professionally for me to be okay with that.
And if I weren't, it wouldn't be for my partner. My partner was amazing. He was. You always said Sundae, if you're not a hundred, hundred, I'm a hundred and you're a hundred on this, let's not do it. And he goes, cause that won't work. Right. So that was the first thing. And the second thing I had to do to make that move was to do research, find out about the local area.
And this is where I was, you know, when I looked at your website and what you do. I thought I, you know, I wish that had existed in 2013, for me to know, even though we had support on that move, it's like, is it going to be safe for my kids? What is the healthcare like? well, I kill someone driving in that erratic traffic, you know, you're going to get malaria.
How do we get, you know, what do we get to protect ourselves from malaria? And those sorts of uncertainties there I had to do. The work and I did, I figured it out. I looked at the existing things that were going on in 2013 that were at my fingertips, but I had to do all the work myself. It would have been nice to have someone by my side to, to hold my hand or to give me the information that was out there, but I wasn't fine.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. Yeah.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : And, because we protect our kids, we want to, we want to keep him safe.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. And you know, you always want to speak with somebody else and learn from them. Like, what did they do? And, you know, your move was 2013 versus now there's so much information online and almost too much information.
So it's almost like I just want, what's pertinent to my move, related to what I really need. And so. Definitely. And that's absolutely what we're offering with Avenue. Great tips. And, and it's a great process that you went through. I love how you said, you know, you had to do your own soul searching and, you know, realize that you weren't giving up your own professional career.
And I think that's something that a lot of people fear, you know, it's either go on an adventure, go abroad or focus on your career and you know what you can do both. And so having that, having that is really important, just knowing, walk us through some of the steps that you, now that you knew you were going to move, but what were the steps you took to plan your move?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : Which one? I've got, I've had a lot of moves. and plans, anytime I plan a move, right? there's the decision making process, like, do we want to move and where do we want to move? Where is okay for me to move? Right. So when, you know, For example, we are in a foreign service context. So you can't always control where you go, but you can, you can have a voice in what region, that would work for you.
So the first step, I think before, for me, when I've done a move is. Where am I prepared to live? And to answer that question, I need to know what my needs are and what I value. So you've all seen the, you know, the Maslow's pyramid of needs. Yep. One piece that's missing is wifi and that's the one that's at the base.
Like my business is a hundred percent location, independent. That is for, and because my, my work is so important to me in terms of, you know, just the way I've designed my life, that is a non negotiable Burkina Faso. In 2013, I didn't realize then that I had the, literally the worst internet on the planet.
And I didn't know that when I got there, so I had huge headaches with power going out. the copper cables got stolen. So we didn't have a phone line. Like I, I had plan a plan B plan C plan D to make it work in the end, the, the speed at which my business operates now would not work in Burkina Faso today that I couldn't, it was, it was fine when I was building my business, but it wouldn't be okay now that I'm really, you know, it's growing fast.
So. So that is one thing we, we just talked about a country and the first thing, when my husband looked at me, I was like, Googled that, you know? Yeah. Download levels. Like I need to know, can I operate my business? Because if, if it's slow, it slows everything down and it creates a ton of stress. So that is just for me.
I know. Obviously the health and safety of my kids is top priority. And what that means actually varies, you know, what I would consider. Yeah. Hmm. It would be outside of someone else's comfort zone. Right. We, you know, just because of them, the skills that we've built along the way, the, the level of uncertainty we're prepared to deal with is different.
Still from, I need to define for me, is this a place that I feel comfortable for my children and what needs to happen for me to feel. Okay. So that's the second thing that I take into consideration. And that's like, once those two things are met, I'm ready to rock and roll pretty much anywhere the weather I think is important.
Yes. And then it's just a matter of getting prepared, right? Like what has to be done by when, who has to do it? cha you know, put it in your calendar and start doing the work. So that's, that's my process.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. So for these moves, and of course you've moved several times, so whichever is relevant, but did you move with just minimal suitcases or did you actually ship your belongings?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : So my early moves, when I moved on my own, like literally two suitcases. so the first one, I, I hopped on a plane with two suitcases and, and I landed, right. That's when I was, when I wasn't yet married to my husband, we were, we weren't engaged. It was just like, let's go. Let's go a little bit, to Switzerland.
I can't believe we did it now that I'm 40. And now that I look back, I'm like, Oh my God. Anyway, I did that. That literally changed my life. so that is one thing. The second their move I did with my husband, we didn't have kids then is when I got my master's degree.
We went back to the U S so there was a lot of logistics around. He's done American, what do we have to do? Does he need a visa? Like a lot of logistics there. That was a headache for us. And then we moved with our own just, you know, whatever we could take. The other two moves I've done. well there's more than two, but all the other moves between Switzerland Burkina Faso.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : When South Africa has been supported by the organization, which means we could have a container and move our lives. At that time that we had kids, we had cribs, we had, you know, we had all those things that families come with. And I'm grateful for that. There, I have to say, though, even though you get a ton of support from the organization, It's still overwhelming.
There's still an immense amount of logistics. There's an immense amount of paperwork that you have to sign. and if you're a family and you're embedded, like you're uprooting yourself. So we were updating, you know, our entire community. We're a very Swift community. Right. And we had to emotionally. Come to terms with saying goodbye to our core people and, and make a move from a very secure and stable place to a less secure and stable place.
moving Burkina Faso, we left, we had 10 days, there was a. A lot of things that happened. And then there was a terrorist attack on January 15th, 2006, and it, 10 days later I flew out with my kids and I call it, it was our abrupt transition. We ended up leaving and having separate households. So my husband stayed in Burkina and I went to Switzerland and solo parents had them for a semester until we could be together as a family.
That move was literally looking at. What stays here, what needs to come with me? What sort of comfort do I need to bring for my kids? So they're okay with this move and what comforts do I need? And, and what logistical things do I need to feel comfortable with this move? So we've had a little bit of everything.
Nicole (Host): Wow. Well, I have yet to hear that and I'm sure our listeners have not heard that kind of experience before. So you. Basically you moved, you said 10 days after there was a terrorist attack, and then you split your family homes. You know, you went to a more safer area at that point. Like, did you think, you know what, this is not the right move.
Maybe we should just stay in Switzerland. How did you handle that emotionally?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : So I, because I'm a nerdy coach, I usually have, I usually do a lot of my own work first. Right. So I realized, I was saying yes to that move because it was based on our family values of fun, freedom and security. And that was the right move for us.
I meet those values and those needs the most, what was hard was, I didn't know how long the separation would be. Would it be a year and a half? Until our family was together or would it be six months? I didn't know. So that was the hard part. what I needed to be okay with that was I needed to create a support network for me to do my job and to be with my boys without burning out.
Yeah. so that was important. Of course we could say, you know, let's just stay in Switzerland, keep it easier. Cause I'm, I'm also Swiss, even though I was born and raised in the U S I have, you know, since, you know, gotten a Swiss passport, my kids also have Swiss passports. We could just easily stay in.
Switzerland, but, we do love this life abroad. We do love, living in a, sort of a globally mobile community and, and, that hadn't changed. So we saw our time in Switzerland as a pause until we regrouped and a way to keep our family together and still. Be living our core values of loving being abroad and exposing our kids to new cultures.
And, and then in November of that year, our family was reunited in South Africa.
Nicole (Host): Beautiful. I love when there's a reuniting story.
Amazing story. you know, and you've moved around a lot and you've moved on your own. You moved with a family, you moved from, with your company. So very interesting perspectives for sure.
You've seen it all probably. but now looking back, what would you have done differently in planning your move? And of course, you know, pick whichever story is relevant here.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : I think the important thing is one to trust it all gets done. Right. Take it step by step. I did a lot on my own in the beginning.
I wasn't very good about asking for help until I had kids and I got an iron deficiency and I was exhausted at 31. then I realized it was important for me to start asking for help. so I think that would be important for people who are feeling overwhelmed. Don't be shy to reach out and ask for a report, or on, you know, to reach out for other people who could be mentors and supporters to deal with that overwhelm before you go.
And once you get there, I think that's important. I think that people need to give themselves one thing. I see people do wrong a lot. Is that, they continue their normal lives. And then they add the move. Nothing else changes. And you can't take a full life and then add a move on top of it and not be exhausted.
Yeah. So to sort of give yourself some grace and say for the next six months, I will be ordering takeout on Tuesdays for the family instead of cooking, because I've got to do a half an hour of paperwork and I'm not going to be cooking and a half an hour of paperwork. Right. Yeah. So giving them some grace to, to reduce the volume of things that are doing, or even pull back on the level of excellence everywhere that you're producing so that you can make space for that move.
Nicole (Host): That's great advice. And I'm sure people listening who are, you know, trying to take on a move. And like you said, keep on that professional or that. You know, level of excellence in the work that they're doing. Yeah. It's really hard to juggle. and so. Give that space so that you can emotionally take on the move obviously with time, you know, a lot of people working from home now or in different situations, but, you know, be able to take that time to plan and coordinate your move.
Love that. All right. So just to finish off with our random question, and I know you've traveled a lot, what is your favorite city that you've traveled to?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : My favorites city which I have traveled to, well, the city that's in my heart is Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, the Capitol Burkina Faso, because that was such a unique experience.
So that's probably the one, I mean, but I've, I've, there's been a lot of cities I've traveled to that I've loved. maybe Bangkok is one of those cities that sticks in my heart. Because it's such a wonderful vibe and energy and has amazing food and culture. So it's hard. You can't make me pick one.
Nicole (Host): I know this is a, this is a tricky question.
But nice to know you have, you know, cities in your heart. Of course there's so many beautiful cities all around the world. This world just has. Yeah. Gems everywhere. so thanks for sharing that and thanks so much for sharing your story as well. I really love hearing your perspective, your experience, and I know a lot of listeners are really going to grab it and know.
So even some of the advice that you've given as they plan out their move, as we wrap up, where can our listeners find you on social?
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : So I'm on all the predictable channels, I guess, expats on purposes of a private Facebook group that is on Facebook or my business page on Sundae, Schneider-Bean, LLC. I'm kind of brand new to Instagram, but I am there as Sundae Bean, you can find me there or on LinkedIn for people who are, once they've made the move and they realize that.
They would like some support to make the most of it on the emotional side, missing family, finding more purpose. That's where they want to get in touch with me or one of my members of the expert coach coalition, because we help with the emotional side of the move before you go, once you get there. And when you start confronting some of those deeper issues.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely, great. So, all of our listeners will be connecting with you. You've been great on our show. We're so happy that we were able to share your story. So thank you so much Sundae for being on the show.
Sundae Schneinder-Bean : Thank you. Keep on moving everybody.