Stef is a bilingual meditation guide and a Life-Transition Coach. She stems from Guadeloupe (a beautiful island in the French Caribbean) and has lived in many different countries in the last years. In early 2019 she has finally set her new home in Stuttgart and is now starting to offer French and English meditation classes here in town. In this Expat Interview she shares her experiences with starting a new life in Stuttgart with us.
Stef, you stem from a beautiful island in the French Caribbean, Guadeloupe. What brings you to Stuttgart??
I left my childhood island when I was 17 to study in Paris. Since then I lived in Dublin, Boston and Zurich. After living in Zurich for over 2 years, my husband got a job opportunity in Stuttgart so we thought why not set our new home there and here we are!
What did you know about Stuttgart before you moved here a few months ago?
I knew nothing about Stuttgart to be honest. My first time in Germany had only been on a weekend trip in Berlin a few months before. When my husband came for his interview we walked around the city and I also took the opportunity to contact some expats living in Stuttgart to ask a few questions. But that was about it. We didn’t see any red flags about moving there and the feedback from the expats were very positive.
Do you remember what was strange to you at the beginning?
A few things come to my mind. For example, when we were looking to rent an accommodation it seemed strange that it is very common that people need to get their own kitchen. I was also surprised by the high price of the rent in general. The last thing that surprised me is the fact that living in Stuttgart with a limited level of German is more challenging than I thought. I was under the wrong assumption that all German people speak very good English.
Was it/is it hard to settle in? What experiences have you made so far with Germans, the German burocracy and such?
If you don’t speak German or have a German speaker to help you then it can be challenging to register at the city hall or contact people about visiting apartments. Fortunately my husband is a native German speaker but I felt frustrated to have to go through him for all administrative tasks. When I tried to open a bank account by myself, the bank told me they could only offer me limited options and to come back for better offers when my level of German would be better. I therefore opened a bank account online where everything can be done in English. That being said, I knew moving to Germany that I could not expect people to speak my languages. However, some cities are a bit friendlier for international communities on the administrative point of view.
Apart from the language barrier, I have to say that locals were all very friendly and welcoming.
Is there something you like in particular about Stuttgart?
I like that it feels very safe and is surrounded by nature.
If you had to pick one, which would be your favorite place in Stuttgart?
I love to have brunch or work from Café Lumen.
As a meditation trainer you are an expert when it comes to relaxation. Which places in Stuttgart would you recommend going to if one needs a break from city life?
Being here for only a few months I don’t feel like I have explored a lot yet. For now, one of my favorite place to disconnect and relax is the Mineral Bad Cannstatt. The other place is actually behind my house in Ehningen, I can stroll around and watch animals behind outdoors: horses, cows, goats or donkeys. It gives me a sense of peace to connect with nature.
You have started your own business after arriving here in Stuttgart. Tell us more about your English and French Meditation classes.
The main goal of my class is to take a moment just for you, a moment to clear your mind. A moment to hit pause and reboot your energy. A moment to be and feel. During the class, I guide you with my voice and I introduce you to a topic for self-reflection. I also prepare a special play list to help you focus through your meditation journey.
I invite the students to lay on paper whatever is on their mind, putting down any thoughts that might bug them at that point in time which will allow them to clear their mind.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to my meditation class. My classes are for everybody and for any levels.
You are also a life transition coach. Could you explain what that means exactly?
Sometimes people can feel stuck, disconnected, or feel that they need a push or a change. It usually happens during a transition period like a breakup or moving to a new environment.
I help my clients handling the transition, identifying and achieving (new) goals. I help my clients to be in control of a life they love.
I provide my clients with a confidential, safe and non-judgmental space for them to speak, reflect and explore. I challenge them and hold them accountable because people can always achieve more than what they think.
My clients are located all over the world and are mainly expats. The sessions are in English and French. I offer a free consultation that can be done in person or via video-chat.
Stef, thank you very much for your time and see you soon in one of your meditation classes!