Herve, born in France, has a wide knowledge of Europe’s different cultures and languages.
As a young adult back then, he didn’t travel much and thought that France had everything he needed until he reached Switzerland.
His experience in Switzerland opened a new chapter of his life, now as an emigrant.
Herve previously decided to take his Ph.D. in France but, upon stumbling with the opportunity to study in Switzerland, Herve took it. He successfully built a new life and career away from home.
Herve had many career opportunities along the way, including offers of working abroad. It was a massive opportunity for Herve, but it wasn’t a simple decision to make.
Fortunately, Herve’s wife, Jana, was very supportive of his career path.
Herve shared how he is genuinely grateful for his wife’s support. Without her help, he would not survive adjusting to a new home and adapting to a new environment with their kids.
Herve’s story is a testimony of how important it is, especially for a couple, to have mutual support for each other’s goals. Supporting each other does not only make things easier, but it also makes more things possible.
I don't think that my children rayovac with definition of 40s. And that's, you know, as a kid, I grew up in the same house and see where my parents are living. And I think it was also great in a great value to have one place you call home and you can always go and you know, some stability. So having the flexibility plus stability it's also quite opposite. So to compromise it I don't have the I don't have the answer.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode number 27 of the Emigrant's Life Podcast, where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. In this episode I had the pleasure to chat with Hereve. Herve is a scientist and he moved abroad and lived in multiple countries because of his job. He's also Jana's husband who was my guest on episode 19. If you haven't already, you should listen to our episode as well, just to have a better picturer of their story. Before moving to my conversation with eBay. Consider subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. And it would be great if you leave us a review on Apple podcasts or pod chaser. And now without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Herve.
No worries. How are you?
I'm doing very well.
So I already had Jana. Or 'Yana.' I didn't pronounced it actually correctly. I learned today how you pronounce the name exactly, Jana?
So it's a name from Czechoslovakia, but her parents liked it.
Okay, I learned another one today. So I already had your wife, Jana, on the show, where we discussed about moving abroad with kids. And her episode is actually is one of the most downloaded episodes so far. But behind every great woman, there's a great man. So here we are. And now we can hear the other side of the story.
Thank you. I mean, I think that you had a great woman, because she's following me wherever I decide to go. So that's I'm a very lucky person.
Yeah, you're right. You can't take that for granted. Because moving abroad and changing and following a person, you have to give up part of your life. Right?
Exactly. And when you are when you are an immigrant and if you are on your own, it's quite easy. You can move you know, pack a few things, you don't have a lot of things you don't need to ask anybody. And the single person who is worrying about it is probably your mother. And then you can promise her that you're going to call her and visit her and that's, that's generally fine. When you have a family, it's it's very important to involve them and to have also them being happy about it, because if you kind of force them to come with, I think it can go really wrong. When I met Jana it was 2002. She has been in 22 countries in her life for but but for vacation. And I was fascinated about that, because I was a typical French who always lived in France and went on vacation in France, because it's the most beautiful country in the world as as every French know. And,
That was Italy
Italian and French, they have a lot of common parts. And so you just chauvinism kind of tells you Oh, you're just as a perfect place to where should you go anywhere else? And Jana was living in France. I met her and I realized, oh, maybe there is more than friends. So,
You travel so how many countries so far?
I don't know. Probably 35, 40.
Oh, wow. That's quite a bit.
Yeah, I'm a bit. I'm a bit older now. Then I was 22 but when I was 22 I know, I went to seven countries, sometimes only four day trip. And they were all in Europe. And I didn't fly to any country. It was everything by car or with a ferry to England. So it was much less than Jana at that time time. Yeah.
So you say you originally from France, and you move a lot because of your job mostly because your job, but when was the first time that you move abroad?
The first time I moved abroad and these also Jana's story again. I mean, I will cite a bit too many times of her name, but she had friends in Switzerland. So we went for a weekend. It was May 2003, visiting our friend's O'Hurley and Siva, and it was a very nice sunny weekend and we were on the luck limo. Yeah. And it was then we decided, Okay, so it would be great. Maybe to to change the country. And because I was finishing my master's thesis, and I was looking for, for doing my PhD somewhere. And I was sure that I'm going to do my PhD in France of course. After this weekend, I thought okay, maybe I can also apply for a PhD in Switzerland. So I applied to Geneva because they were also speaking French and it would be easier for me. And they transfer my my email to Zurich. And one week later, I got a phone call from Zurich and went for an interview in Zurich. And eventually I got so they invited me to start my PhD in Switzerland
And was it hard for you to to live your life in France and Switzerland? I mean, I know it's not that far, but still you have to leave your family and friends.
Unknown Speaker 5:04
Well, I'm coming from Strasbourg, which is very close to the German border and I was studying the in more in what I considered to be south of France, people would say these middle of France but Santa Chen, which was 550 kilometers south. And so going to Switzerland was in fact bringing me closer to my family. Yeah. And on top of it I had already experienced about Switzerland because one of my uncle married a Swiss wife and Philip and Annie, and as a kid, I was going there on vacation. So for me, Switzerland was I just didn't know that they were jobs in Switzerland because they were living in a village called Matzendorf. And for me, Switzerland was a country where people speak a lot of Swiss German, I don't understand them. And it's only very rural.
So and and after Switzerland, you travel, and you actually move in one other country?
Unknown Speaker 5:58
Yeah, during my time in Switzerland, so I did the PhDs and postdocs there and eventually I got towards the call a, you can you could say in English senior scientist. A "" in French or "" in German. At university, and in this time, I was working on European Union project, I got the opportunity to go for two months to Spain, to Vigo and a bit to Berlin. But this European project I was working on was making me meet people every six months somewhere in Europe, and one of the partner but also the coordinator of this project was a big chemical company. And this big chemical company basically ended up asking me whether I want to, to join them in Germany. And this is still the company I'm working with so.
So from France you moved back to, but actually not back, you move to Germany where Jana is from.
Well, when I told her, she told me, I've lived 19 years in Germany, it's in a form or life. So she was not very convinced about going to Germany is a good thing. But I was like, hey you lived in my country, I didn't live in yours, I will understand better. You and and your people by living in your country. So give me the chance. So she say okay, let's do it. And when we arrived was very interesting. Because I was again this adjustment time to try to understand all things goes there. I was fluent in German, I had no problem with the language. But I was discovering this new job, discovering this new environment. But for her, it was very easy, because immediately she was back home. She knew exactly, or you get and what can you get from the bakery and lots of other, so immediately she could switch back, and she liked it. And at the time or two kids were one and three years old. And I have to say that given the fact that she had this childhood as a child in Germany, she she really enjoyed it. And she was finding this value coming back to her own kids. And it was really, really beneficial and very positive.
And going back a little bit. You said you were fluent in German?
So I'm coming from the border with Germany and we had already at the age of nine and 10 we would start to have German at school. But it was of course you know German from school, like English from school. And like Italians, the French system is not really helping us learning languages in our countries.
So my German was a school German but when I started dating Jana she was very well and we still speak only the French together, she was speaking very well French but I also wanted to have interactions with her family at the time it was her grandparents and her parents and that was important for me to to get better with with the German so it came back a little bit and I made some effort and when I moved to Zurich, everybody was speaking Swiss German but also English, and eventually German with me. And I learned very well to speak German, in fact in Switzerland. And this is another German as you know, so they use some words that are called "". So these are some words that the German do not use. And when I was going to Germany I would speak German with my French accent and I would use some words that are typically only from Switzerland and you would make everybody laugh a lot yeah, like back even yes for parking so to park the car I say 'Parken' in Germany and in Switzerland they say 'Pakirn'
But just a different way of saying it. It does not that means something else right?
No, no. So yes, I have also some story like that but no you, but it was just you know, for people they found it sweet to see a French that speaks that wierd German you know.
So I guess we can make like a good connection right away because of your accent.
Well, you know, you know it is as an immigrant you have a bonus, you have the immigrant bonus, when you come to a new situation. And you, you express yourself, everybody is willing to accept that you do mistakes that you do things that are not in the cultural standard. Because you have this immigrant bonus. What people don't know is that these immigrant bonuses good for probably three months and afterwards you need to adapt.
Yeah, totally. You said that, Jana when you guys move to Germany and she saw the benefit of living in Germany for the kids because she could gave gave them the same kind of childhood she had in Germany with the same kind of value. Did you miss that, that you couldn't give the value for France from your like childhood, the same things that you experienced when you were a child?
Well, there is something fascinating about I would say mix couple was to culture like, like we are, is that your reserves a feeling certain moments that you can give both aspect to the kids and the kids will only grow with both aspects. It's a bit like the immigrant going to another country, and then the world is smaller. But there's also when you have children together, you start to see some small egoism, where you try to pull towards you towards your value, because you want your kids to be more French or more German. And we had this experience and I can give you as a small story, which I think is funny, and anybody would hear your podcast who was French or German would, could understand that. So we were on the playground and in Germany serves the most amazing playgrounds you know, they have like pump with water and sand. And so so they can play with water, with sand and so on. And I see my kids who are very small, want to go where there is water and sand. So there is mud, and they want to go into mud. And the kids would go if the parents do not stop them. And as a French, I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, I take the kids and put them like 10 meters apart from this water source with the mud, otherwise they will be very dirty in the car. And so and, and then I picked up a coffee or an ice cream or something like that. And when I came back, I saw Jana taking the kids and putting them in the mud. And I see, I arrived and I see them putting them in. What are you doing? And she say they need to experience the material. You know, and so in the German culture they really want kids to to experience and in the French is more like probably Italians, too. Do you want the kids to stay clean? So it's one anecdote, but I would not call it conflict but you we had quite some discussion about what our values and and we realize really with the kids are important certain value of childhoods were coming from ourselves. And before we start, oh, we are very open, I value your values, you value mine. And but then we had like a the something quite interesting, I think that we realized with the children.
Yeah, even she mentioned that that was good to move to the US because you kind of like a natural territory for both of you. And like a external culture, that wasn't hers or wasn't yours. It was like an external.
We we had that in Switzerland to. So Switzerland was neutral. It's not to make a joke, but it was neutral for us because we are both foreigner. And as you know, every country has their own specifics and Switzerland and also their own specifics that were not French and not German. And it allows us to speak about it in a yeah, in a more neutral way I would say or we can criticize without criticizing each other. You know, that's a big difference and going to Germany. I have to admit, I love Germany. I think that Germany is a is a great country to live especially with a family. It's very safe. People are very nice, very open. I I really had blessed a very, very good experience. But honestly, not not even Germany, it's the same here and it's different. But everywhere you find good people, that's really what I noticed
What you said that it's I think it's kind of natural when you're multiple new country, having these adjustments, and going through this adjustment, you kind of have all you kind of become judgmental towards the new the new culture. And I think having the other person or your partner, in this case, from that country, when you become judgemental against the culture you just moved in, of course, you're gonna attack your partner directly. And that becomes defenses. It's it's a automatic mechanism from both parts. You become judgmental for another person to become defensive because you're kind of attacking your culture.
Yeah, maybe a little bit I think that I had I had a huge chance in Switzerland because I was working for a while. At genius t we were counting, we were 17 nationalities. So when you are 17 nationalities you you see a small picture of the world. You have people from all over the place, and everybody works in another ways as different values and it's a beginning. I think I was very judgmental. Why do they do that is wrong? Why do they do that? And I don't know when but at certain stage, I just switch to say, Oh, they do things differently. And now, since this time when I see something which I find weird, I'm not focusing on the facts that the person do it wrong, but more about, oh, let me think about it. Where does it come from? Why do I react like that and I'm, I'm more on the self reflection, and try to understand and maybe learn for myself about a new way to do the same things. And that sets process I had really from this time in Switzerland, and thanks to these multiple nationalities working, and we're forced to cope with each other,
Especially at work, many people have different way of working. And when you have to work in a team, you have to, especially in your case, working from people with all over the place, you kind of have to, to force yourself to find a compromise between your way of working with other people are working, right?
Absolutely. You need to understand where people are coming from what is important for them, and have an open discussion about things. And, you know, you can always ask question, you know, if you find something weird, instead of saying, hey, Daniel, why do you do it like that? I can say, hey, Daniel, it's interesting how you do it, I would have done it this way. And you can have a, you can have a discussion about things. And this way, maybe I'm indirectly teaching you some things that will help you or you say, No, no, I do like that, because it's more efficient. And then you kind of teach me some things that I don't know, you know,
Yeah, totally. And speaking about your job, because you moved quite a bit because of your job. You went to Germany, and then you went to where UA right away or?
Because otherwise you would have been felt guilty for the heater you made because they felt like a selfish.
Exactly. Now, I know, like lots of things, if I think I was very, very excited about this opportunity, and I really wanted to do it. If Jana would have been completely against it, I would have felt kind of, you know, maybe I would have need to work on myself not to reproach to her and to understand where it's coming from, and if they were enough agreement to stay, there always enough agreement to stay, but also enough to go,
You moved a lot for work or you lived in multiple country because of work, do you think you would have moved anyway if it wasn't for your job or not?
I am not sure I would have had the courage. I think that especially I would say my company and my work as a scientist really helped me you know, also to take the decision because it creates opportunity and they were taking care of a lot of things you know, like organizing the things regarding the health insurance, moving pensions, etc, etc. So that really helped a lot. Now, I was always curious about differences and and that's maybe also why I started to spend more time with Jana and who end up becoming then my wife later, but also I was always hanging up with foreigners and I was more interested in the difference and in in seeing the new Well, it's very curiosities that helped me. Would I have I moved? I think that there would have been a reasonable chance that I would have been satisfied living and staying in France. But it was a bit like, maybe you know, an addiction, at the moment where I realized how big is the world and that they can learn much more about myself and about others by living abroad. I realized, okay, maybe I don't want necessarily to, to live even back in France. And I want to see more. And I still want to see more today.
Yeah. So the company kind of help you to make the first step to leave your country and to try to experiment and try to experience this, this new lifestyle, which much more easy, because they help you with all the steps, which is even like for leaving your country and moving to a new one, if you don't have a job, you don't even know when you you're gonna find a job, how much money you need to move to another country. So moving with the job it's just that is a huge deal, just because you don't have to think about the financial aspect.
Exactly. So financial aspect is one important part. But there's more than that. You're right. When when you arrive, and you have immediately a place where you you are working, you have even new colleagues, and it just makes things much more much easier. Yeah. Now, I think there's a different stage in life. And if I would have been in a, in a bonus of being, you know, young without kids, without family yet, I think six would have been much easier. And I recommend anybody who is hesitant, it's better to do it earlier than later. Because in the early time, you you may not have a family and it would be easier. Yeah?
Yeah. And not just the family aspect, but even with the immigration process is much easier. Because yes, yes, you if you move to a country, are you planning to send the country, us and many other country have the points. And based on your age, in the case, you get more points, it's much easier to get a visa. to get a sponsor, and so on. So even that moving when you're younger, even then is a big aspect. But at the same time, when you're younger, you have less experience. So by having less experience, it's harder to find a job and get a sponsor to find a job. So you kind of need to find a good compromise between experience and age.
Yes, what I notice and what I realized is that I have two Chinese colleagues, they cames a, one has to do a PhD program and the other one for postdoc in the United States and then eventually stay and now one's on green card and the other one even became citizen last year. So I think it's a it's also a possibility to come for, for studying and then and stay if you like it. Yeah?
yeah, that's actually one of the easiest way to stay in the country. I spoke with an immigration advisor here in Canada, we have a conversation about it. And he told me that you get more points just because you studied the country, they give you more points because the education you got you got from the country. Because if you are a doctor in the Middle East, or India or China, to become a doctor, or the same level of career in the United States, in other country, it's much harder. You have to start and study again, because it's not recognized. So even that could be one of the things to keep in consideration when you decid to move abroad.
Yeah. But at the same time, the correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's for, especially for a lot of English speaker, they don't, they don't try to learn another language when you move abroad. And I'm guilty of it. Because now that I speak English, if I monitor another country, I don't even try to learn the language because I kind of expect there to speak English in a way if they don't speak English its kind of their fault. It's not my fault. And on this particular language, yeah, whereas therefore, they don't speak English. And that's the curse when you learn English, because you're not forced to learn any other languages. That's the problem
That's kind of like a universal language.
Well, in what what we consider being our life, but if you go to Asia, you know, of course, some people speak English, because but I mean, there are enough place, even in big cities where you can, you can realize how difficult it is, if you don't speak the local language yeah?
Oh, totally. But I think at least for me, there's a different if I go on holiday, I don't in Russia, for example, if I go on holiday there, maybe I'll try to learn a few words just to say hi, or thank you the basics. But maybe I don't force myself to learn anymore. Because like, I can speak English, it's different if you decided to move to Russia, and work there for a few years. In that case, I want to learn the language. It doesn't matter if the people understand English. By learning Russian, you can have a better experience you can have an easier life because not all the people know English. So by learning their languages, you immerse yourself more with the culture, you meet more people, and you have a better experience overall.
And you see, it's about being an immigrant, of course, I think learning the languages is a much bigger and important value. comparing to, to visit just as a tourist. But you said that learning a few words even to say hello helps sometimes even in France. Yeah, if you come and you say 'bonjour' and then switch to English stating that you can speak French, you will have people already much more open to help you. Because you tried at least know one word.
Yes, you're right. You're absolutely right. You show them you kind of try to learn the language. Because nobody expected you to know all the languages if you come from another country, but knowing that a few words just to say thank you and hi. Just Just knowing those words, they show that your effort to try and to learn the language.
Exactly. Yeah. And I saw I mean, when you're passing to the Netherlands, I also asked people with prefer me to speaking say I'm sorry, don't speak Dutch to Is it fine? If I speak English? Or German? What would you prefer? So I would ask and, and that's also interesting, then you you may have one or the other. I mean, lots of course, people are very good also in language in the Netherlands, so and here's a thing where everybody can speak English and in German, as he said it was my feeling, but I asked whether we can use one or the other.
Yeah, I mean, I don't know I don't have that privilege to know more than than two languages. I don't even know what for me is like a showing off like, Oh, you want me to speak German or or English or?
It's good interesting aspect. I didn't see it that way. I mean, yeah, but you're right that can be seen as a showing off, yeah.
I wish I could do that. What language would you like me to speak to you English. German, French, Italian Spanish? Pick one.
Yeah, you're right. It's a it's a bit too much. No, but in the Netherlands, you know that it's quite close to the German language. So some people feel more confident Germans than English maybe? Oh, yeah, again I think that they all speak both so it's quite easy
Yeah I mean it did a good thing I probably would have done the same thing but in my head because I'm jealous of you I'm kind of like oh, your showing off
You don't you should you should switch you know you move from New Zealand now to Canada maybe you should go to the to Quebec to switch to to learn French, it would be easy for you, or somewhere else with another language you'd like to learn, yeah?
I know. You know what I've been thinking of doing this just because I have the opportunity to live in Canada and everything is written in two languages. Everything you buy there's English and French version. And I've been here for two and a half years and I don't even know how to read it. So I've been thinking of trying to take like some French lesson at least knowing how to read French so maybe even just reading French from a box of shampoo that you buy whatever, box of cereal even then you started reading the war things done list picking up some of the words at least if you know how to pronounce them, how to read them. That's one of the things I've been thinking of,
It's interesting to speak of the shampoo bottle because I had that also with Switzerland when we used to live in Switzerland everything is is infected French, German and Italian and French German were no problem for us. But in Italian very often was the same name but sometimes was very different than I will always like look at all that are the same and and keep on trying to pick up a few words. So that's a good opportunity. You're right if it's into language you, you have also translation in your daily life in the supermarket. Yeah.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I have the opportunity to learn another language. So why not?
People need to have fun, so that's fun. You know if you if you can have some auto region and you have the courage to try it that's great.
But the funny thing is they actually I actually ordered for everybody and they gave us what we order. That was the funny part.
Which means French is even easier with what you think so?
Maybe Maybe, and it is funny because he's sort of French not French, people in Paris usually have the stereotype that if you don't speak the perfect French, if you don't use the same accent, they ignore you. They feel like they don't they pretend they don't understand. But I had the opposite. I was picking my own dialect and they got their order.
I think it depends a lot on the people and of course if you're in places where there are more tourists there will be less this would be Moses industrial effect of tourism. And if you if you go to some place where was depends on the people, tourists are always the same. But you know about having fun with language. I can tell you another story about the children book called Cappuccetto Rosso
What was that?
Little Red Hood? Little Red Hood?
I think yeah, I think you're right, the Little Red Hood. Little Red Hood
Caperone is like the booger in your nose?
I heard that before that, actually, comics is good when you decide to learn the language,
Because you understand a lot from the picture. And in the context of the picture, and reading, and with a few words you're learning, you get a lot of info, and it's still enjoyable to read. And we thought, you know, translating everything, and so on, you start to learn quite some words.
Yeah. Going back to your job, your career, how much of the decision you made to move to the US? How much of that was, because of the opportunity of your job? Or how much was the opportunity actually, to live in other country living in the in the US?
Yes, I think that first of all, U.S. is probably very attractive for a lot of people, we all have this influence from television, and from everything. And of course, the English language. I mean, in our case, we had, so Luna and Aileen or two girls, they were seven, nine years old, fluent in French and German, but in a very good age to learn a third language. So going to U.S. was a great opportunity for family to have the kids learning English. And if you if you hear them, and they're very fluent, you can know that they're not Americans. But also, in terms of the work and I would not say it was about going to the U.S., it's the work that offered me was to work on on developing new materials for the 3D printing technology for the curables in particular, and I really, array found this topic fascinating. So I can use it. Also, in terms of the work, I will learn a lot, it will, it's a very interesting topic to work on. And U.S., of course, I never lived in us. So that was also the news thing. But I think that he was able to say, Oh, we do that, for some reason, in Brazil or in Peru, we will also gone with with a lot of joy. So I really, really liked the fact that it was not only a new move, it was a new move in a in a new continent. Which means the difference in the culture were dramatically more different according to me, despite the fact that it was a language that we knew it was a certain culture where we have a feeling about it from from television and from cinema. There were a lot of things I understood being here that we don't have understood if we would have stayed in Europe.
What was the main thing you think that you wouldn't understand or didn't learn?
A few people will have a smile on the face. So when I look at American movie now, and sometimes, you know, in the past, I was thinking certain aspects are exaggerated, and they're only done for television ads, and I'm like, Oh, no, that's really like that. Whatever, you know, yeah. Yeah, a few things that you think it's a bit exaggerated for television, like decoration for the home for for for Christmas, or, or Halloween, you know, you're like, Oh, yeah, they do that of course. But some people really put a lot of effort and money into making a huge event. And honestly, that's something I'm going to miss too. So today, I was walking and I saw some people decorating so five people decorating our home. So I'm going to probably do some night tour to check on the illumination and people really appreciate the holiday and they do these things so I think that it's something to see in life that's true as a decorator and the decorator also inside a house sometimes in a in an amazing way you know not with one Christmas tree but with five Christmas tree maybe you know, maybe more so that's really amazing. Yeah.
I had the same kind of experience when I moved to Canada that sometimes I will see something that always I never saw like in real life always in the movie and as you said I thought was just a things they only live in a movie but totally like a really I was like super surprised it was actually real things.
Yeah and this importance of sports you know for football, you know NBA, baseball until we went to see all this sport and that was really really interesting to see because we all know about this sport some existing also in Europe, some are not. And to see the dimension of it. Yes, it sets was great ends it was like in the movie. Yeah. For me.
Going back to picking up your job. Yes, you travel a lot you move to another country and you had opportunity that you will Didn't have back in France.
Absolutely not. I'm sure that I would never be where I am, I would not have this carrier. First of all, because the French system is a bit special, you know, that they have these things about school. It's it's, you realize it later. But if you go certain carriers, if you go to this school, you'll ever a better job, probably it's incredible how French is working. I discovered with Switzerland that it was more about what you are capable of doing, which kind of value you can bring, that will make your your career and your opportunity. It's not because you come from this family, you went to this high school, you went to this college, that you are going to get this job in this company is really, really interesting how it works in France, of course, is only and I'm speaking as a very, very important very nice jobs, and moving outside speaking language, being capable of working with different people from different backgrounds that open I think, a lot of opportunity to me in terms of the work. And as you said, I got some opportunities some I took, some I didn't. So it was always a matter of choice and a matter of feeling. But you know, I think if you ask me where I'm going to be in 10 years, I can tell you, I hope, I hope I will experience a bit more since I hope will have all the opportunity, I hope n if there is no person maybe create new opportunity. We don't know Asia, yet. We never lived in Asia, I've been a few times. But I would love to experience that too. Because I think it's a it's another fascinating scene of the world. And and of course, Asia is not Asia. You know, Korea is different from Taiwan, from China, from Japan. So and others so I really hope that we will have also a sneak peek in in one of this country, to broaden of our mind, but I think I would not have had the opportunity to answer your question. And on top of it, I would not be who I am today, I feel that I I got the chance to to learn much more thanks to this opportunity. Yeah. And I'm very thankful for that. That's a big part of it was chance and curiosity. But I'm very thankful.
And what was the biggest upside that you from from immigrating from moving to different countries?
I think the first one was to realize what I was missing by leaving. And most people have a certain image about who they are. And the image is, of course, not 100%, maybe what is a truth. And it's also maybe not 100%, of what people see them and getting out of the country out me a lot understanding where where my value, what is important for me, what do I accept? What do I don't accept, and, and kind of grew from there. And to give you an example, I think that I had a very, very positive image of France, which was communicated by media and so on, before I left France and then from Switzerland, and they were speaking about all the things that were running wrong, problem of corruption, that we were not really making very public in France, that that were revealed to me when I was in Switzerland, because they were writing articles about what happened to france, and what is the story, and I felt that Oh, there is much more corruption, as well, sorta, so that France was much less corrupt. And that that's how things is really on. They'd be more on the political side, on the system side. But also for myself, suddenly, I realize, Oh, I need to go to France, because I cannot find that or was it's linked to food was it linked to habit was it's linked to yeah, a lot, a lot of value. And I was not aware of that I had them and I discovered them and then understood myself better, and understanding myself better and helped me again, to be capable of understanding also better, but also to be more tolerant to understand others can think and to be let's less judgmental. So it was not about judging the the people or the habits were were I moved. But it was at the end of the day to be capable of understanding that things can be done in another way. Yeah.
Is there anything that you maybe would have done differently?
Do you think it will keep moving to take your career to another level or chase? Whatever new technology or whatever is going to be the best in your career and the best opportunity in your career? Would you keep you continue doing that and move to another country? Or do you think at some point, he would just figure out where you want to leave for the rest of your life?
It's a very good question. We have this discussion a lot. having kids, and now they're turning 10 and 12 in December. It's a very good age, I'm a bit afraid that certain stage you know, being teenager having I mean, it would be more difficult to move. I would love to and I definitely want to. The question is, should we settle for a while to get the kids some kind of a feeling of being settled and having our own? And then, you know, then they do their life? They study. And then we could move I have one of my friend living in Shanghai, who did that. The kids study and they stayed in Germany, and he moved to Shanghai with his wife. And I see it's also it's also an interesting way of doing things. Yes, I really hope I don't want I don't want to stay now. So the plan is to come back to Europe, but I don't I don't plan to, to stay there for for the coming 20 or 30 years. So I think that we will go and we will see what is the opportunity. And if I see that there is no opportunity and we need to change, we will change and maybe even actively. So. But I hope to get some opportunity. I learned also that what matters is also to express yourself, because you know, lots of people even working company, they think it would be great if I'm sent somewhere, but if you don't say it, maybe you will never have the opportunity. So, you know, I recommend anybody to to express about what they want and what they don't want. And this can help also, you know, because you never know. And if you're very unhappy about the fact that you don't have the opportunity, well look for an opportunity. Yeah, that's my way of thinking.
And do you think in your career, there's like a one country that is more opportunity for you than others.
Every country has their own specialty. But it's true that in terms of the spirit and the level of innovation, I find quite fascinating, or it works in U.S., especially on the coast. I mean, if you go to Boston area society, then instead San Francisco, it's quite, quite impressive, or things are going there's a willingness to take risk and to try things. But honestly, I found Switzerland, very interesting, too, in in Europe in terms of innovation, as things that the rest of Europe is into innovation, but not as disruptive and I don't honestly, I don't really know why. So my feeling is that from what I'm doing, because I like science and I like innovation, technology, maybe for a lot of U.S. is a very good place to be. And of course, when I was working more on the formulation for electronic and this kind of industry, you could see a big, big influence from Asia. So there were a lot of things happening in Korea and Taiwan. So I think it would depends on the domain. In our case, I think that we would adapt about anywhere and yeah, interesting job is very important for me and gives me a lot of motivation. But of course, we will need to accumulate that with a nice safe place where the family is okay. And on top of it that there is a prospect of winning something whether it's a language culture, but you can win something anywhere. I believe, yeah.
I agree can be the languages it can be the culture and can be the way they work. They can bring to other countries where you move in.
And friends. You know you you spoke about it you know you go anywhere, you meet people, you make, you make friends. If you decide to you know you can you can decide to stay close in your home and do not meet anybody. But if you're interested people and their custom and how they're living or what they're eating, etc I think you it's a great opportunity to learn more about differences. Yeah.
We actually were talking about this before we started recording about making friends in other country and leave them when you move away when you move to a new one. Yeah, and when you meet new people in a new country is kind of like a good thing and a curse at the same time we were talking that it's a good thing because I means you made great people with different culture and they can become really good friends, but at the same time it's a curse because you know, you're going to lose them, but at the same time, like even lose them in itself is got a good thing. Usually when you leave your country you experience certain emotion and the people express their emotion to you in a different way that if you didn't never leave the country because I know you're leaving and you have to say things before it's too late. I don't know if that makes sense.
Yes, I mean, I mean we discuss a bit about it's a bit like going to your own funeral. I mean, this may be exaggerated a little bit but people are getting emotional and you get too emotional and too because you you never know what you're going to get you know what you're losing and and and this is a good moment to exchange I mean, I see with these particular jobs effects that I was going a few times a year or two a year ago. I never never took a hotel in where's my company because I have a a friend's living in my name and they would always asked me and I'd like is a guest room and I felt so cozy and home and we were very good friend before I left but when I'm when I'm there, it's always like a big event at least for me. And I think for them to to to see each other because we know we are living so far away and and even it's reinforced our relationship so I'm there so there is the two aspects you have this people expressing how much they are going to to miss you because you are living a new to them because you are living but but then when you come back it's it's such a great feeling. You know, if you if you see each other all the time, maybe you don't realize how lucky you are to have each other you know, and and that also is maybe with my parents you know I I really enjoy every time I see them and probably more than then when was too easy to season.
Yeah. Now that's a really good point you start taking not for granted hold the people that are in your life. That even the people that remember you every time you go back to back to France or back to your country or to their country where you used to live the people that show up for you. The people that they you left something in their life that they show it up for you Yeah, I don't think but we should take that for granted. As you say even your your parents I experienced that with my with my grandma that every time I would go back to Italy for a holiday. Every time I would leave go back to New Zealand or back to Canada. I didn't even know if I will see her again. So even then when you say goodbye to those people and it's hard because you don't even know if you're gonna see them again.
It's it's hard and there was a weird in our family a small joke I mean I was living in another country but one of our from my parents and my sister 10 or 15 minutes in bed my brother there's this also friends too close to lose and he would not come so often that you would need to fly to come and when he was coming we all come to see him and there was always some very very nice food and my father would cook a lot and then we always made the joke is like his son came back home and now we have this fantastic food. And now I realize that when I'm coming home, I get the same treatment so you just need to be a bit farther to get this kind of special like it's like Christmas you know when you go home and we laugh about quite a bit. I think it's so nice nice way because you spoke about the fact that you make friends I mean, we made also very very nice friend yeah and exceptional people. And I learned over time that that sets the price to pay you go somewhere, you meet people, you start to love people and and then you leave quite a few people. You will get to this connection and some people will visit you and you also know that when you are coming back if you plan to say hello again. That door will be open again and that's a fantastic feelings and you use a feeling you have you have a few places in the world where You have a bit big part of home. And no. And that was kind of the image that Jana had also, with a book with a heart where you start to accumulate different flags and different emotion. So you, you, we will take a little bit of America and the nice things that we discovered here with us. And then we enjoyed so much, there were so many good things that happened to us. Yeah, that's at the end, whether it was a year or Germany before Switzerland, or even a small trip to Spain, you you always take something with you. And you, you always win something, and you always lose something. And this stuff, but it's worse, it's worse it,
Yeah, no it's worth it. Sometimes it can be hard to leave people behind. Do you think that because you will leave people behind, that were not taken for granted? Does that make you be a better person, it may be the ego, going back to the country, back to France or Italy in my case, then it kind of made me want to be even better person, because I'm not taken for granted. So I wanted people to show up. I want to leave something want to be meaningful for those people.
Yeah, that's something I never actually never thought about it. I still have the house where I grew up and a mom still lived there. But your kids then don't have that yet.
Yeah, I was actually talking with with my friends about this, this topic now, specifically the house but growing up in the same place and having the experience going through the life experience with the same people. Like you go to preschool and with your friends and meeting them, you start bonding, as you go through elementary school, middle school, all these stages of life until becoming a grown up. And be like sitting at the table when you get older. you discuss what we've done when you're a kid or remember the day that we pee on the night in the grass in front of the school. I don't know I'm just making that up. Yeah, like your kids, maybe they want to have the same experience. And they probably have like a way different experience of life is better or not. It's not. It's not up to me to judge if it's better, no, but definitely a different experience. But they want to have a record a normal experience.
Yeah, I agree. So they definitely, you know, you have in your the same friends for years and years, they save a few very good friends. And when we went back to Germany, Aileen, she she really spend some time with her best friends that she had before she left and they within five seconds, it was like she never left because it was such a strong bond with Maya. So I think you know, you can make friends, where it grows over years. And sometimes it takes a few minutes. That's sometimes my feeling. And sometimes even if you do not see each other for a long time, when you see each other, it's like you never left and then you catch up and you have lots of things and you get excited and you have your full of good emotion and you are very happy. You're so happy to see each other and maybe would not have been the case if you would see each other every day. So I I also I also don't know I don't have the answer whether it's right or wrong. I think that they miss a certain stability, and that I eventually, you know, eventually they will reproach the certain stage. But again, I think that the experience they had learning the language, understanding different culture, everything at the end of the day, people they can refer to anywhere it's a thing. It's also a value. Is it right or wrong? That has been our choice. Yeah, some people can judge about it and think it is stupid, so it's fine. Your choice and assume it and I opposite that will be fine with it later.
Yeah, yeah. It's up to them while they're going to do with the knowledge and, and experience they have
Well and and if they found it not normal that means they will settle and never more normal life, you know and stayed same place and be more engaging the community and you know, I think that says it can be also one of the decision if they decided to go the opposite of what we offered them. And we may have some, some good discussion later about it. And they would say, why did you say, why did you do that? I wanted to have some stability. Yes, yeah. We didn't. Jana and I, we, we were too curious to stay at the same place.
And speaking of that, do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?
Absolutely. I think it's a, it's a blessing. First of all, I think I feel lucky, that we were born in in Europe, that we, you know, in a, I would say, you know, middle middle class, and that we never had any problem. So far, you know, of war or hunger. And, and I don't think that it's all granted, you know, I mean, it was not always the case over the time, and there was a place and I think that having the chance to study to learn things and to get opportunities to easily get visa, you know, we I mean, just seeking is not granted that you can move and work anywhere is that you like just because you have the qualifications that makes you attractive for for any country. So I feel I feel blessed about that. But I am thinking about all the people that are well, maybe immigrants because they don't have the choice because they are, they're moving out from from place where they either they cannot feed their family or this dangerous is a very different way of immigrating. That's because of they are forced to immigrate to, to save their people. And yeah, in our case, it was a pure choice and pure expiratory choice and in conditions. Which which have been great. Yeah, so I know, I feel I feel privileged, absolutely. About zero potencies at my company gave me but also just the opportunities that we had in life. And, and also that we were also a little bit of courageous enough to take opportunity, because I know that some people get the opportunity to do to take them. And you know, what do you have to lose? Yeah, that's I didn't think about what would you have to lose, what do you have to win. If you don't like it, you can always come back. Your passport is still valid if you come back your country. So where is the problem?
Even if experience is a bad experience, you're still learning from from it and will always serve you in the future
When you think about it. And also in terms of carrier, if it's important for people, I think that speaks a language. It's one aspect, understanding culture is another aspect. But if you if you apply for a job, or if you have this immigrant experience, I think that you're you may be a bit more attractive, not for everybody. But you know, I think it's it's very positive.
Now you're totally about create, like a resume by living in multiple country. I mean, I think even if I have to go back to Italy now with experience I have, where would my resume right now I could find a way better jobs than I could have. If I didn't leave just because I work in New Zealand, I worked in Canada. Yeah, if you have to compete with people from the same country, you will win, just because of the experiences you have on a resume. Yeah, absolutely. And do you have any particular advice for the listeners there that maybe we didn't cover?
Well, maybe I think that if you if you hesitate, think about what what you may what you may lose, and what you may win, you don't know exactly, because you can try. So just try it. And instead of going maybe you know in a, in a in a very far away country, you can also go from Italy to France, the language will not be so difficult, and you will still get foods that you can eat and see where you can see whether it's something for you or not. And if you feel too, too bad about not seeing your friends every other day. You know, just wait a little bit and maybe you are going to discover new parts of yourself. And if you like it continue and if you don't like it, it's fine. You try it. Yeah. So that's it would be my advice.
Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much Herve to take this interview.
And thank you Daniel for having yeah.
No worries. And if somebody wants to reach out to you, what's the best way to connect with you?
Sure. I mean, I I think LinkedIn if it's more willing to to to work or to advise me to go work and you can also have my email address, my Gmail email address on your webpage and people can write me an email. Depending on how many people are writing I would answer maybe shortly not but definitely I if there's specific question or some specific aspect I would I would love to help somebody. Yeah.
Sweet. I will put everything all the links of your LinkedIn and your email address in the show notes for for people to find them. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much Herve. I really really appreciate your, your time and, and your story.
Hi, Herve, thanks for being on the show.
Hi, Daniel. Thank you for having me.
Was she okay to go back to her country because she she decided, I guess to leave the country, was she okay to go back to Germany?
So. I was six years in Germany in the central of this big chemical company. And after five and a half year, I got a phone call. And they asked me whether I would be willing to, to go for for period of three years to the US as an expatriate. Explain me, what was the job about was about building up a team and developing new materials forces, additive manufacturing, for 3d printing, I really liked the topic. And I thought, okay, that's very interesting for me, but I knew also that the decision was not only mine, but also the decision of Jana and the kids. The kids were small enough to say at the end of the day, that they will go where we go. But it's getting more difficult when it becomes nature. But I when I came home and told Jana, you know what, we could go to US. She say, Okay, I'm quitting my job on the next day, she quit her job. So yeah, I then use it with Jana is not is against he's not difficult, because because it's Jana, you know, and, and also, people have also Janas and people, not everybody has a Jana that's also what you learn. Sometimes it's quite, it's quite difficult. And I don't think it's very smart to force it, if your partner doesn't want to go and force it. Because if I would have arrived here, and I would not have her support, because she was taking care of the school with the kids taking care of the new, you know, medical system, taking care of everything. And I have a new job, and I'm very busy with a new job, if I would have all the worries of the family on top because she would not support, I would not have manage. So you need to be strong as a family. It's a family decision. I think that this would be for people hearing, maybe, yeah, it needs to be a family decision.
One of the things I think is stops most people from living abroad, especially for Italians, I don't know if you can relate with French, most of the people that are from Italy, they don't want to emigrate and don't want to move abroad, because the language barrier they don't want to start from from scratch, they don't want to start from the bottom. Now many people are willing to restart the life and start from lower from where they are, especially in the career wise. If they're having a good job in their country, they are not willing to start from scratch in a new country. And for most people from for example, you move from Ireland, to the US, they speak the same language, it's a good chances that you can start on the same level. If you come from another country, you don't speak English you move to a new country, i's much harder because you have to prove that you're not "stupid" because sometimes that's a list of our felt when I went to New Zealand with no English, I felt I was stupid. Because when you when you're talking in especially in in a career, and all the terminology, you automatically sounds like you don't know what they're talking about.
Automatically have to start from the very bottom.
You know, even you say it's about being an immigrant, but even I realized that by traveling for leisure, yeah, if you go on vacation somewhere and you don't speak the language and you don't have local people while your friends, life is a bit more difficult. That's why we always try to learn at least some basics and nowadays with some even free apps like Duolingo you can really get some basics that helps you opening a few doors of course English is absolutely mandatory wherever you go, because that opens you always some doors. But when we visit Peru last year, would say for three months to take 15, 20 minutes of Spanish every single day to three months before and honestly, okay of course it's a Latin language and Spanish is not so difficult. I mean, not for you either. Italian, French, they kind of manage but to us, it was good because we couldn't speak it very well. But we could speak it enough to have interactions with local people. Yeah?
Yes and maybe in country, I mean, you're in Canada and the US, of course, if you drive thousand miles in any direction, everybody still speaks on English. So that that's basically making life more difficult to learn another language because you just don't need it in your, in your daily life. If you're living in Europe, like we used to and we'll do probably in the near future, it's different because if you live in Italy, you can, of course, live all your life in Italy, make vacation in Italy, and so on. But if you want to visit France, and other country, yeah you can try with English. But if you speak a little bit of French, this will help you see more and having a broader view of Europe. So I think it's quite valuable. And of course, now I'm speaking Italian, French, and when you go to Germany, and even better in in Scandinavia is quite incredible. How people are, how good they are speaking English. Yeah? I think that you're right. But there is a there is always this point about do you need it? Or don't you need it? And with internet and we saw it with YouTube, I know that lots of kids today, they learn a lot of English, also from YouTube video and others and things that they are reading. So I think that English definitely has a premium position. Yeah?
And you see how close it is from to Italian. So that's quite easy.
It's actually funny, it's really close to to my dialect in Bergamot. In fact, a few years ago, I was with my friends in Paris for the new year and I went to the restaurant and I order for everybody just speaking my dialect. My friends were like laughing being so hard. And I was just speaking to the waiter in my dialect and I wish it was breaking down in my head like don't know what he was writing down I was just making a picture of me being being a complete ass.
You know, it in Italian? How do you say it in English? You know?
It's this girl was in the forest, bringing the cake to a grandma and there is a wolf. And I, I was in student residency with some Italian and they this children book and they, they kind of made me read it first of all, and then they removed the book and they say now you tell us a story in Italian and they could all speak French. I couldn't speak Italian but in French it's
le petit Chaperon rouge, so Cappuccetto Rosso. So so that's quite similar. But I didn't remember there was a Cappuccetto. And just because it's Chaperon in French, I say Chaperone Rosso and everybody laughing. And I, and I didn't know why. Yeah, and maybe you can explain what is Chaperone in Italian. I don't know how to say it in English either.
In your nose. Yeah, that's a that's a Caperone.
So and it's what I mean about having fun with language. You know, I mean, it was a very good moment. It could look like, not significant that you speak about the children book. And I tell you that Paperino.
Paperino yeah Donald Duck.
Donald Duck. Exactly. So when I went to Italy, I went in library and, and I was, I don't know, maybe 28 and I bought a Paperino because it's for the kids. Because this, everybody likes Donald Duck, and I liked it very much. And the fact that it was written in Italian, as a comic, I could understand, like, 80 90%, I could learn quite a bit. And it's exactly the trick I did. Also, when I, when I started with German, I bought Dagobera Duck. Yeah, so so basically Donald Duck comics, and I would read them, and my vocabulary grow very dramatically thanks to Dagobera Duck.
And probably because you took those chances to opportunity, you probably even grow in your career in your profession, do you think you would get to the same level of your career if you didn't leave France?
Well, I think that maybe I would have gone earlier in another country maybe to study one year, you know that. There's this very attractive program called the Erasmus that's how I met Jana, who was making basically in France for one year with this exchange program. My sister in Sweden, in fact, and I think she are also grow a lot. You know, she was a last one in some orientation. And when I was reserved in Sweden, she would say Oh, You take the map and you tell me where we go here, there was not a smartphone yet. And I told her, you know, you're young to be on your own when I'm living. In fact, she could read that map very well. And she would find a way. So I think that getting out of your comfort zone is very good. And if you do it a bit earlier, you may you may experience even more part of yourself and develop yourself faster. So if I could change one thing, probably I would have tried, maybe after as a bachelor to go at least for one year in the in another country to get to get out of this comfort zone. I did my PhD in Switzerland, and thanks to Jana, with friends there, and the chance to spend some time there and in Switzerland is a is a great part of the world, because you have also a lot of people from all over the place that are coming to Switzerland. So I met people from so many different places. And I realized I really like that. I like a different culture. I like this different way of doing things. And, and that's what kind of brought me to, to continue to explore. And once I was in Germany, I moved to Germany. And when they told me Yeah, don't you want to go to U.S.? Sure I'd go to the U.S., yeah.
And I don't know, do you think that makes you be a better person?
I don't know. I think that you are automatically a curiosity. Because when you come back home, of course, you, you so more than probably quite a few people there. So they have more question to you. So you take a lot of attention. And a lot of I don't know, if you you suppose or you're a better person? I don't know. That's a good question. I think that you you, you evolve in a certain direction. And, and but you have also price to pay, you spoke about home, I don't think that my children really have a good definition of what is home. And that's, you know, as a kid I grew up on in the same house and the seat where my parents are living. And I think it was also great and a great value to one place you call home and you can always go and you know, some stability. So I think the flexibility for stability is it's it's also quite opposite. So to compromise it. I don't have the I don't have the answer. Yeah.
And this means you have anchor points, you know, you have like a port where you can go you know that it's a very important part. So for my, for my children, this is a single place, they know which things they're where my parents are living because Jana's parents moved so so this is maybe the single the single place that they know was a stable, since birth. So,
Thank you. Thank you, Daniel. Thank you for your time. Have a good day.
Okay. Thank you. You too. Bye. Bye.
Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can find the show notes with everything we discussed in this episode on emigrantslifelife.com/episode 27. If you want to support the show, you can share this episode with your friends and you can leave us a review on Apple podcast and pod chaser. It would make my day and help this podcast growing. If you want to be on the show, you can send me an email at stories at eminence live.com or visit emigrantslife.com/yourstory. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you in the next one. Ciao!
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