Crossing Cultures is founded by Karin Gabor and Michel Daenen. They are partners both in business and in private life. They have two children: Bastiaan (2007) and Amber (2009).
Before we moved from the Netherlands to Hungary in 2008 we ran a company for change management, training and coaching, located close to the beach of Scheveningen in The Hague. We worked for various clients throughout the country and sometimes abroad. We liked the work we did and our business was going well. We could have continued this way, but our hearts told us to go a different direction.
In 2005, we had bought a deteriorated villa with some land around it in a small village in North Eastern Hungary. We had spent some holidays there to renovate the house. We saw a potential in that place that we wanted to explore. The idea was to combine tourism with horticulture, sustainable forestry and education. The ideal was to create jobs with this project for a good number of local people in this poorer part of the country. To realize such a project, we needed to actually live there. That’s why we sold our office and our house in The Hague, luckily just before the financial crisis started.
Loaded with optimism, money to invest and determination to succeed we moved to Tardona, Hungary. It was quite a change going from a crowded touristic beach area to a rural village with 1200 Hungarians and with us one Dutch family. In the months that followed we experienced that spending holidays is way different than living and working in a new country. To establish and sustain a Hungarian company, we had to go through a lot of bureaucracy. We had many questions: How do the tax-rules apply to our business? How to handle conflicts? How to deal with suppliers? How to negotiate? What kind of marketing works best? How to correct or motivate our employees? We needed to seriously build our business without really understanding the rules of the game in Hungary. We managed to reasonably speak Hungarian, but many letters we received we still could not fully understand. And our new life was not about work only. How to build new friendships? How do you relate to the different customs in social life, in the hospital, at the town hall, at the kindergarten? To what extend do we want to adjust and to what extend do we want to remain Dutch? How do you stay in touch with the people back home? Life had surely become more complicated than back home and we met issues and obstacles we never thought existed. Surely there were people that helped us, but most of the time we’d need to find out everything by ourselves.
After 6 years in Hungary we returned to the Netherlands because we wanted our two children to attend a Dutch primary school. We had read somewhere that repatriation, going back to your home country, after some years can be hard. That turned out to be so true to us. Getting used to the Dutch way of life was challenging for all four of us. We were not used anymore to the high pace of life and the directness of the Dutch and that social life is planned in detail. Also, practicalities we had to learn: while we were gone several things in daily life in the Netherlands had changed, for example the public transport and the health care system. Emotionally it was also challenging to find out that the old network had somehow disappeared so we needed to build new or re-establish old relationships. It took us about two years to get back on our feet.
This personal history is the reason we started Crossing Cultures. We feel inspired to help expats before, during and after their adventure abroad. To provide tools, insights and skills we know will be helpful down the road. We use our own experience as expats and our experience as personal trainers and coaches. We offer to share our lessons learned and provide information, insights and advice to help them to settle down smoothly and establish an effective and happy (working)life in a new country.
We are looking forward to meeting you.
Learn more about our free 30 minute "Getting beyond the tourist level" coaching session by clicking here.