I'm excited to share this and many more conversations with you. I've been meeting amazing women who are recreating their lives and homes abroad.
That takes a lot of courage and resilience! If you're in a similar situation, know that you're not alone!
Ivna Chedier Maluly is a journalist and children's books author. She's from Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Author of Cadê seu peito, mamãe? (available in English: What's happening to my mummy?), Gabriel e a Fraldinha and Maria Luiza e a Banheirinha. She lives in Brussels, Belgium and you can learn more about her work on her Facebook fan page.
I am a Brazilian journalist and writer and I've been living in Belgium since 2005. I was born in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro. I came to Europe in 2003 to do a master's degree and I met my husband, with whom I have a son.
What motivated you to live abroad?
I wanted to speak a foreign language and I chose French. That's why I went to Strasbourg. I also wanted to know a bit more about the EU. In Strasbourg there is a good University where I could focus on this topic.
What were your expectations before you moved to Belgium? Did the reality align with those expectations?
I did't know Belgium before. I came here because my husband works for Le Parisien newspaper. I also became a correspondent for a Brazilian newspaper and after that I became a Portuguese teacher for Europeans, especially at the European Parliament.
Belgium is a very good country with a good quality of life. The multicultural environment is very attractive and I love this because every day I can learn with them.
What are the biggest challenges in starting a new life abroad?
I think that it's the integration. We have to be open to the other culture and the other way of thinking. In the beginning it was very difficult because I didn't have friends. In addition, I had to face the reality. I was very lonely, I had never known that in Brazil. I have a big family and many friends. Now I've made many friends and I am very adapted to the country.
Living abroad is something very special. You get to know many people, you have to speak another language, and if you compare it to Rio, Belgium is very cold.
I've learned to be open minded, more patient, and that people are the same everywhere. I think that in Belgium we have respect for people, the political conscience is more concrete and the relationship between people has to be respected. Teachers, doctors, lawyers and children have to know what they are and respect each other.
What do you wish you had known before leaving your home country?
More about politics in Belgium, for example. How this country can function with the complicated system.
Tell us about your writing. What inspires you?
I love to write. I love Portuguese and I love reading. I am a journalist, as I said. My son Elias is my inspiration. I was very happy when he was born and I thought "why not write about the different phases of a baby?".
And then, one day I found out I had breast cancer and he asked me what was happening all the time. So I explained and I presented this idea to a friend of mine, a writer too, Thalita Rebouças. She presented this to an editor and the editor loved it immediately. What´s happening to my mummy? tells my own story of facing breast cancer with my son.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am teaching Portuguese to Europeans and I am a French to Portuguese translator as well. And I have finished too books for children, one about King Pedro II and the other about the twins Fábio and Rafael.
Any advice you’d like to share with those who dream of creating a new, happier life?
I think people can live every day with passion. I know that's difficult, but when you almost die because of a disease you see things in another way. Only you can make your life a happy life. Happiness is inside us...
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ivna!
How about you? Have you been recreating your life abroad? Feel free to leave a comment!