What started out as an adventure turned into their ever after. “My husband proposed we live abroad,” says Laura Lourenco, who relocated to the U.S. from Brazil 11 years ago. “We thought we would live in the States one or two years. But then we never went back!”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura about her experience integrating into a new country, making multiple moves across the U.S., and settling into new communities. It is always special to hear our customers’ stories first-hand and learn how integration and job search assistance impacts their lives both during and after a relocation.
How did your adventure begin?
My husband came home with a proposition one day. He wanted to accept a temporary contract position in the U.S. I was excited to experience the culture of a new country, so I agreed. We moved to Seattle, WA, in 2004.
Were you able to work in the U.S.?
I was put on vacation by the American embassy! My visa just allowed me to be with my husband. I couldn’t work or study even though I completed a law degree in Brazil.
What cultural differences did you have to overcome?
I spoke English when we moved here, but it took me about six months to catch onto everyday vocabulary. It was tiring to even watch TV in English. Every time the phone rang, I had a panic attack thinking, “What will I have to learn this time?”
I quickly realized that Americans need their personal space. Brazilians are open and warm, and they ask a lot of questions. When we meet someone on Monday, we want to be their best friend by Tuesday!
Where has your husband’s career taken you?
After living in Seattle for two years, we got our green cards and I went back to school. My husband was offered a short-term assignment in San Diego, CA, and we relocated there around this time. We returned to Seattle after that role ended and then our daughter was born. Early in 2014, we moved to Charleston, SC, for what we thought was another short-term assignment.
What was life like when you first moved to Charleston?
We left everything we owned in Seattle and lived in temporary housing. We purchased only the necessities to get us by, thinking we would return home. We were here for six months and I hadn’t met anyone in the area.
Did you receive relocation assistance during those moves?
We didn’t receive relocation assistance since my husband was a contractor. After being in Charleston for six months, he was offered a full-time position with his company. It is his dream job! Now that he is a full-time employee, his company has supported us with permanently moving to the Charleston area.
Has the support you received from IMPACT Group made a difference during this move?
Oh, yes! It has been huge to have this support. Moves are overwhelming, and I didn’t have to do it all myself this time. I got to work with Vicki Prasch, my integration coach, and that made a real difference. When you move, your phone rings nonstop. I never felt that my conversations with Vicki were just another item on my to-do list. She respected my time and was really patient.
What was your favorite part of your program?
I loved the professional résumé IMPACT Group provided. When Vicki sent the new draft, I thought “This is a better version of myself.” I want to return to the workforce after 11 years, and having a professionally written résumé has given me confidence.
What advice do you have for others who are relocating?
New friends and like-minded people are very important in the beginning. They can provide comfort during the transition. I connected with a Brazilian group in Charleston, and it has been so much easier having those friends.
What networking advice do you have for others?
When you apply online, you are just a number. Find a group to join, even if it is a hobby group. This will allow your network to grow in the new town. What might start out as a friend group can turn into professional networking opportunities.
What do you and your family like most about living in the States?
We instantly fell in love with the U.S. Our quality of life is much better here. We have traveled and had different experiences that we wouldn’t have had in Brazil. We feel blessed that we have the opportunity to live here.
And your favorite part about the East Coast?
After living in Seattle for 10 years, it is so nice to see the sun! We enjoy the beach, my husband loves to bike, and I like spending time together at home. We found a great school for our daughter, and she is developing in beautiful ways. We have a peaceful feeling that we have finally found our permanent home.