Stine's Journey

Picture courtesy of Stine Fox

What does the term "lifestyle change" mean to you?  Maybe a change of career, moving to another part of the country? Some of us find such changes challenging; for other they may feel liberating and invigorating. A chance to start afresh and discover who we really are. For Stine Fox, the lifestyle change meant moving from her home town in Denmark to Seville where just about everything was different to where she had grown up. We asked her to share her inspirational experiences with us.........

Tell us a little about where you grew up in Denmark and what you most love about your home country...

I grew up in a suburb of Copenhagen. All my life I lived in the same place with my mum and dad. It was only 20 minutes away from Copenhagen but my town wasn't that big or interesting. When I was a child, I loved the area though. Back in the day, it was a very sociable community - with tiny houses  grouped together in clusters and divided by small  footpaths. Everything was very green and there were no cars in the whole area - only cycle paths. I spent all the time next door where my best friend lived. Also I remember having barbecues with the neighbours in the summer.

At some point the place got too small for me and I wanted to meet new people, so I started going to  a high school in a town close by, and then moved to my first shared apartment in Copenhagen when  started university.  I spent about 8 years living in different places in the capital and I loved it.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What made you think about moving to Seville?

The journey started several years ago when my then boyfriend (whom I had been together with for a really long time) one day told me he had stopped loving me. That kind of changed my life. That summer was the first time I ever travelled alone. I went to the northern part of Spain to do some volunteer work at a festival in a small village and I had never felt so liberated and strong before.

I began to realise what my own dreams were and it changed my perspective on how to live life. I finished my Master's degree at the University of Copenhagen in Musicology and Physical Education in 2012 - and realised I really needed new inspiration and exciting plans. 

Everybody was talking about the difficulties of finding a job at that point because of the financial crisis. I didn't really want to end up in a system of unemployment support and an endless process of writing job applications. My really good friend had previously done a programme called Comenius, where you can be a teacher's assistant in another country and get paid with a scholarship.

I got placed in a small town called Sanlucár de Barrameda near Cadiz. I absolutely loved the experience - even though working at a Spanish school was really different from my own experiences in the Danish school system.

Photo courtesy of Stine Fox

Whilst living there, I frequently went to Seville and completely fell in love with its passion, architecture, atmosphere, culture, music and people.

Then something happened which abruptly took my life in another direction. At my local hospital in Spain I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. That forced me to go back home to Denmark and go through a really long process of surgery, treatments, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Having to deal with the mental challenges after recovering from the shock of being diagnosed with cancer has probably been the most challenging thing in my life so far.

Even though doctors told me my prognosis was good it is a real life challenge to live with that paralyzing fear that cancer tends to cause.

During that whole process and through huge personal development I became more certain about the fact that life is too short to wait for things. Life doesn't come back so we should really do the things we want to. I had been forced away from probably from one of the best and interesting times of my life through cancer and during the two years I had to stay in Denmark I was dreaming about being able to go back to Spain again. As soon as it was possible for me I moved back to Seville and once again began building up a new life there.

Photo courtesy of Jan Shankar

How have you adjusted to the change of lifestyle, climate and work?

Well, I definitely appreciate the siesta time since my energy level still is low after the chemo treatment and in general I really appreciate a less stressful way of living. I find that easier to pursue here compared to life in Copenhagen. I thrive in hot weather but I do find it challenging when temperatures rise to 42 degrees! Maybe after my first summer here I will have adapted. I am still figuring out the working conditions, since it has only been recently that I started in a "real" job, now that I'm qualified as a teacher. I work at a British school here in Spain so it's like I have to adapt myself to two new school systems (both the Spanish and the British which both are quite different from the Danish system) but that's a challenge I enjoy.

What have been some of the most exciting things about the lifestyle change?

That I feel more inspired as a person. I'm still me, but a different me. Being outside my own country and in another country and language, I feel more outgoing and more of a free spirit. I love learning a new language and I just really appreciate my life here.

What has been the most challenging thing to adapt to?

I haven't really found it yet. I adapt quite easily. Well, one thing that can be really annoying is when you have to go through a bureaucratic process here since it's sometimes seems so complicated. Oh, yes, and people staring. People are really different from the Danes and here in Seville you simply just stare if you see something that interests you. People are way more direct which is part of what I like but also sometimes something that can be annoying.

Photo courtesy of Stine Fox

What does a typical day involve for you now?

Well it's really not that different from everywhere else. I still have to go to work, do the laundry and clean and just live an everyday life. At the moment, since I'm working at an academy, the hours are between 4 pm - 9 pm which means I have the mornings to myself. Unlike at home, I might go out with someone to have breakfast, then prepare my classes or go swimming (since I am doing a lifeguard course for the school and the summer camp where I'll be working this summer). The days I work at the academy I leave at around 3 pm and then I arrive back home at 10.30.  At weekends I try to do some different things which are easy to find here. I often go out to have tapas or a drink, go to concerts, do exercise, go to the beach, or to the Sierra Norte to do some hiking. There is always so much choice.

What are some of your favourite ways to unwind/relax?

I do a lot of different things to relax. I get so much stimulus from being out among people and doing many things, so I like to meditate or listen to mindfulness guidance during my siesta. Playing music, such as my saxophone, is another way. When I play I get so caught up in the music and I don't really think about anything else. Sometimes I just really need to leave Seville to go to the coast or the mountains to escape the city and the heat a little bit.

Photo courtesy of Stine Fox

What is your advice to other people thinking of making such a lifestyle change?

If it's something you're passionate about you should definitely go for it. Remember to take into consideration what is most important for you. For me it's the way of living, the climate, the people and culture and not my salary. I'm not able to buy the same things as if I was in Denmark working, and that can sometimes be annoying - but I do really value the other aspects of life here more.

What next for you?

I just recently started in my new job teaching English at an academy and teaching swimming at a British, private school just outside Seville. I will work in their summer camp in July as well and then from September and on I'll be teaching Music and English at the same school and academy. I am really excited about this since I've managed to find a job where I get to use my different skills. Besides work I would love to get to play more saxophone again since that is a big passion and there are so many possibilities to play gigs and meet people to play with here in Seville. Hopefully I will find the time and energy. I am definitely thrilled about staying in Seville for a long time.

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