Inside View - What it's really like living in Europe

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Lessons learned: From my mother and while living in Sweden

In the 9th article in our Inside View series Faith set out to travel the world while making a difference in people’s lives. While in Sweden she got a phone call that changed her life forever. At about 10:00pm on August 28, 2007, I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda airport. I remember the day so vividly because it was the eve of my 24th birthday. I

Laura Bazile asks, “How is it to be the only Black Woman entrepreneur in the room?”

In the 8th article from our new series from women on the inside, Laura Bazile examines business networking as an entrepreneur in Europe. As an entrepreneur, I chose to start my business on my own, providing full services to my clients, with subcontractors joining from time to time -depending on the type of projects.   All in one, it means that most of the time,

Feeding the spirit in France – Erica found a way

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our seventh article, Erica Smith-Escassut found a way to feed her spirit in France. Over the past few years of living here I have made a few observations.  The most striking one for me was when I arrived in France,  December 1999 to live and establish a

Gloria Dixon-Svärd – An American in Norrland

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our sixth article, Gloria Dixon-Svärd traded her dreams of being a diplomat for a life way up north.  So what made a big city girl like me venture off to a small town way up in the north of Sweden and stay there for 19 years and

Kendra Williams-Valentine – How I Learned to Enjoy Strawberries

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our fifth article, Kendra Williams-Valentine learned to love strawberries.  It was my first real summer in Sweden. I accompanied my boyfriend to a cookout (I refrain from using the word BBQ) hosted by a friend. After a quick bite, it was time for dessert and I could

Twaambo Kapilikisha – In the middle.

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our fourth article, Twaambo Kapilikisha addresses sisters in Europe with children “in the middle”.  Twitter is an interesting place,where mere mortals can connect with celebrities and get a message to them directly, a place where the masses gather for different causes,good and bad ones. I was a

Who would have thought a die-hard NYC chick would fall hard for a Swede and the Country.

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our third article, Lucie Buissereth shares how much the Swedish countryside means to her.  Yup, it happened to me and forever changed my life! After 8 grueling months of coaching, training and competing, I needed a “Time OUT”- So it was off to Sweden to see my honey!

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – Celebrating birthdays

I’m so glad my girlfriend invited me to celebrate her birthday with her in Halmstad. The two of us started with a little bubbly and appetizers at her place. We had a delicious dinner Fridolfs Krog I hadn’t been out dancing in ages and the Boom Boom Room was the perfect place to have fun. I had SO MUCH FUN! Nice things happen to me

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – My first Tjejmilen

On the 30th Anniversary of the Tjejmilen, I decided to participate. It is the biggest sporting event for women in Sweden. I signed up in the walking category so we were the last two groups to start the race. This was the category for women with baby strollers, walking sticks, and newbies like me. I walked up on Germaine, we hugged, took a photo and

A New Comer Beauty Adventure.

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our second article, Thania Moore shares her hairy experience in Madrid, Spain.  One of the things you don’t imagine when you decide to move to a European country probably to settle and spend the rest of your life is living an authentic adventure when it comes to

Hanging on to summer. Nice things happen to me in Sweden.

Well, it is September and no doubt the last vestiges of summer are slipping away. “Don’t go”, I scream. “Seems like you only just arrived. Sigh”. But I have to admit it was a pretty awesome summer. The Culture Festival in Stockholm was packed with great acts including the legendary Hugh Masakela. My friend’s dog Max was break dancing. And a rainbow even came out

Sweden is like living in Russia.

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our first article, Cecilia Gärding explains why she is dedicated to fighting against racism in Sweden.  I come home from my vacation in the north of Sweden and go back to work as the project-director for ”The Cultural Heritage Agents”. A project with the purpose to help

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – squeezing out every day of summer

It is not uncommon for Swedes to have summer houses and how great is it to have a friend with a summer house with this view? And this spread for dinner? Nice things happen to me in Sweden. Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – Who says birthdays only come once a year?

Sommartiden hey hey! And the summer just keeps getting better and better. We hadn’t seen my Swede’s godmother and family since last July and they live just over the bridge from us in Lidingö. Don’t get me wrong. We tried but folks are busy. And would you believe they pulled out the champagne in July to toast my October birthday? Godmother even gave me a

Nice things happen in Sweden – more summer fun

Sweden, summer and water. 2 of the 3 Swedes pictured above had never sailed before. Sailing can be tiring. Then we went up to the cliffs where some of us jumped in the water. What a lovely day. Nice things happen to me in Sweden. Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Swedish summer—–so far, so good. Nice things happen in Sweden.

It’s not a Swedish summer to me without Daphne’s annual 4th of July party in Halmstad. Tons of American flavor mixed in with international cuisine and people. Only Daphne could pull this all together. Next indication it is Swedish summer is after beach in the solgården at Hotel Tylösand. And a day on the water sums it all up: good fun with family. Nice things

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – The Valborg night bonfire that wasn’t

We had traditional Varlborg night food of salmon (surprise), potatoes (surprise) and asparagus (family tradition). This was to be my first Valborg night celebration. I can’t remember where I usually am on 30 April, but this 30 April I was on a west coast beach ready to experience another Swedish tradition. And I wasn’t alone. The year-round residents came, maybe some other people were from

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – Fiesta Friday

When a group of cool ladies get together we can’t help but have fun, right? Add a potluck with a Mexican theme and it was caliente. We even had a mascot (pictured above). Everything, with the exception of the La Neta tortillas, was home made and absolutely delicious. Don’t forget the sangria, margarita’s, Kaluha and Coronas! The penata…. …and it all came together for a

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – Melodifestivalen part 1 with friends

It’s that time of year when me and my Swede are hooked on SVT1 on Saturday evenings to watch Melodifestivalen see who will represent Sweden in Eurovision. For us it was funny right from the start: And we all thought Mary would at least go to the second chance round: But she didn’t. Even still among the 4 course meal, snacks, and entertainment a good

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – New Year Reception for expats

I love being an expat in Sweden. I’m in the American Club, the American Women’s Club, the International Women’s Club and Democrats Abroad. And then there is Internations and XING. So dare I join another expat group? Well I can at least attend one of their events and see what I’m missing. So I went the the Global Expat Partners New Year Reception at the

Nice things happen to me in Sweden – ladies dinner at an extraordinary steak house

I’m looking forward to spending more time with friends this year and cultivating my relationships. I’ve been putting people together for the last year or two through dinners out and like anything else it takes some trial and error to find out what and who works best together. To start the year off the December holidays group met this time at Griffins Steakhouse which, I

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How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

I love giving and receiving gifts. I like to give the gift that is so well suited, totally defines their personality, brings true joy, the recipient can’t believe I actually nailed it!

Ebates How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

But I also need to be smart with money. Who doesn’t? I discovered eBates in 2006 and haven’t looked back. When you shop online using eBates you get a cash rebate. No joke.

Stores How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

And the stores offering rebates are actually stores where you want to buy. You trust them, you know they will deliver and provide quality items.

button 300x178 How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

“Well who is going to remember to go to eBates before shopping online”, you grumble. Well I tell you, you don’t have to. Install the web browser button and you will be notified if your shopping qualifies for a rebate. Magic.

ipad 292x300 How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

“I want to shop using my iPad or iPhone”, you say. Well you can. So no excuses for not getting cash back when you shop for others and dare I say, shop for yourself.

gg1 300x43 How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

You know how good it feels to give a gift. Did you know you can give a gift that benefits someone else who needs you help?

gg2 How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

I love to give the gifts that give more: affordably priced donations in the name of your loved one. Who needs more clutter? Give a gift that truly matters.

gg3 How to give and get with meaning and savvy.

But if you are going to buy clothing, jewelry or household items, you can buy fair trade AND donate food at the same time. Win, win! Visit Greater Good for a huge selection of gifts or items for yourself or opportunities to give that will leave you feeling good. The person you gifted will feel good too!

This is how I give and get with meaning and savvy.

Book launch event in Oxford – TORCH Race and Resistance Research Network

book launch invite Book launch event in Oxford   TORCH Race and Resistance Research Network

Visit the TORCH website.

Twaambo Kapilikisha – In the middle.

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our fourth article, Twaambo Kapilikisha addresses sisters in Europe with children “in the middle”. 

Twitter is an interesting place,where mere mortals can connect with celebrities and get a message to them directly, a place where the masses gather for different causes,good and bad ones.

I was a witness to some recent twitter backlash towards a singer who tweeted another singer about the fact that they were both half African (They each had one parent from a certain African country)

That was not taken too well with some of the citizens of said country.

They sent her lots of mean tweets, going on about her not being able to properly pronounce her last name, tweeting things like ‘Oh you’re one of us now are you?’

The artist was indeed shocked and could not believe how mean people were being!

I remember when this artist was hot on the charts, she did acknowledge her African side, but seemed not to identify too much with it and could not.

This got me thinking about how we are raising our children far away from where we were born.

There is a large number of women, living in countries where they were not born, married to men of a different citizenship, culture and sometimes colour.

These amazing women have uprooted themselves,l eft the familiar and set up homes away from the home that they knew.

They have accomplished things their mothers only dreamed about, have access to what some women in their homelands only fantasize about.

They have beautiful children or are planning on having children.

Sometimes these children have a hard time with their identity. Not only because there is an obvious difference in how they look in comparison to the rest of the kids at school, but because sometimes no matter how much they try to fit in, they may not be accepted as a real part of the culture.

A lot of children feel they are in no man’s land. Born in a country that one of their parents was not born in, in a land where Mummy has had to adjust to as well. A land where she has embraced a new culture but still in some ways holds on to her own.

She may give them names that she believes will help her children fit in more, shying from her own traditional name that gets shredded to pieces while being pronounced every day. She may work on getting them to join clubs, sports and associations that will keep them grounded and rooted in that culture. This is fantastic, nobody wants their child shunned or sticking out like a sore thumb.

I do believe it is important though to take a brave step and educate them about where you are from.

Where is it? Who are your parents? What games did you play when you were a little girl?

How are you teaching them to celebrate where YOU are from?

Is your child proud to say he/she has a parent that is from a different nation? Could your child say that she has visited been there is in touch with extended family? Could she have a story to tell about that place?

This middle ground is not exclusive for a child that is mixed race. I know someone that is half German and half French and born and raised in Germany.

When in Germany everyone calls him the ‘French guy’, when in France he is the ‘German guy’. He has admitted to feeling he does not belong anywhere and has come to accept it. He has done a good job of shrugging it off and enjoying both sides of his heritage. Finding a good spot in being knowledgeable about both sides of his parentage and embracing the fact that yes, he is a mix and loves both, celebrates both and can adapt on either side. Granted Germany and France are not that far away from each other, but that is the point exactly!

How are we preparing our children to deal with being in the middle with regards to their heritage? How do we tie in the two?

As for the singer that suffered the twitter massacre, in her defense, its not her fault she never visited when she was younger, its not her fault she could not relate. She may have never been taught to.

Teach your children to embrace every side of their heritage, if they choose to walk away from it that is their choice, but you are equipping them with a powerful weapon. Being able to empathize, relate to people from all walks of life. Most of all to live more comfortably and lovingly in the middle.

Twaambo Kapilikisha 300x200 Twaambo Kapilikisha   In the middle.

Twaambo Kapilikisha. Photo: Philipp Hamedl

 

Twaambo Kapilikisha who has discovered she has a knack for radio is a on a personal writing and speaking journey of discovery. She enjoys exploring the different facets of women and  exploring life by asking questions, through her blogs www.thebookwormgiraffe.blogspot.de and www.mukaintu.blogspot.de. You can also listen to her radio show called Diasporan Truth on www.zambiablogtalkradio.com where her intention is to engage Zambians in the diaspora to mobilise and bring positive change to Zambia.

Next month Kendra Williams-Valentine learns to love strawberries.

DeVon Thompson – Music, Memories and Moving ahead

In a new series of articles, black women living outside of Europe share their views from the other side. In our fourth article, DeVon Thompson discovered that music build bridges. 

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Photo: DeVon Thompson

Europe looms big!

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Photo: DeVon Thompson

That may sound strange coming from a black American woman but when you say the phrase ‘I’ve been to Europe people’s eyes light up, there is usually a pause followed by a ‘wow!’ or ‘you have!?’ The amount of Americans holding passports is low and even lower for black Americans. We know what Buckingham Palace looks like, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized manmade structures in the world but despite many black Americans especially those my age (I’m an early 80′s baby) growing up with the sounds of Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Incognito, Les Nubians and of course everyone knows ‘Return of the Mack’, the continent of Europe might as well be Mars for most.

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Photo: DeVon Thompson

I know Europe as a tourist, first in 2008 and just recently earlier this year in 2013. I grew up near a military base and had a friend who grew up in Germany as a pen pal; Europe wasn’t new to me when I landed at Frankfurt International Airport in 2008, although I was overly excited because like many I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Things changed when I landed at Heathrow this year, it was much more comfortable. I have a music focused blog and the ideas started to swirl while in Heidelberg, Germany on my first trip, I knew I had to reach out beyond my borders and found many of my associates were based in Europe. On my first trip and my most recent trip, I took note of the music scenes, the impact of American hip hop culture specifically. I felt that there was an energy that just wasn’t present in the U.S. I had the chance to visit Paris on my first European trip and I felt that Paris displayed just as much hip hop culture as you would see in New York City. Music was a way to connect with other black women in Europe some of whom are associates as well as those I met while visiting and I’ve learned that sharing the same culture interest transcends race even though we were all black women interacting. However the interest of music and hip hop was just a part of our initial meeting and conversations went deeper into racism, sexism and overall cultural differences.

DeVon Thompson DeVon Thompson   Music, Memories and Moving ahead

DeVon Thompson

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeVon Thompson is a writer and event producer. She currently publishes the website creativebeach.net, a website that focuses on music, travel and film. She has been writing online since 2008 and interviewed artists such as the Nigerian artist Nneka and UK MC Kano. DeVon has also written for several blogs and websites some of which include thecouchsessions.com and soulculture.co.uk. DeVon has also been featured on the London based creative culture site iamthenublack.com.

Next month Shaniqua Farrior lays out her plan to move to Antwerp.

German-Born Nigerian writes a recession-busting book for every household: 10 steps to Managing your household budget

9 bw 199x300 German Born Nigerian writes a recession busting book for every household: 10 steps to Managing your household budget

Tokie Laotan-Brown’s

In a time of austerity cuts and economic uncertainty across the world, Tokie Laotan-Brown’s guide to managing a household budget is a must have book for families and individuals who are keen to make their money go further.  As a busy professional woman, wife and mother, Tokie is all too aware of what it takes to make every penny count.  By using her own experiences and undertaking research, Tokie was able to compile this easy to read 10 Step guide to household money management. Her interest in money-management stems from her time working as a consultant in money and portfolio management for 5 years.

“10 Steps to Managing your household budget” provides readers with useful financial management tools to assess how their household expenditure is utilised. From managing household bills to understanding where most money is spent, the book is an insightful tool in becoming more adept at personal financial management.

About The Author

Born in Wurzburg, Germany to Nigerian parents, Tokie Laotan-Brown is currently undertaking a joint Phd Program in Economics and Techniques for the Conservation of the Architectural and Environmental Heritage at the University of Nova Gorica and Universita Iuav di Venezia, Italy.

Tokie currently works as a property manager and as a consultant in the housing sector, as an environmental architectural technologist. With a background in Sustainable Construction and Architectural Technology, she hopes to travel extensively to Africa, Central and North America, and Central and Eastern Europe to study how environmentally sensitive homes and communities are affected during pre and post occupancy periods.

Tokie is a member of the Black Designers Showcase in America (BIDS), Construction Industry of Builders (CIOB) in Ireland and UK-Green Building Council.

In June 2004Tokie was an independent candidate for the local elections in Galway.

Tokie was a Mayor Awards nominee in 2005 and An Image Awards Nominee in 2007.

Tokie’s portrait was commissioned along with 11 other women for a Calendar as one of the most influential women in Galway in 2006. This was done for the Galway Rape Crisis Centre.

She has also worked on various housing projects within the Galway city council as a spatial policy committee member from 2004 to 2007.

Tokie currently resides with her husband and 3 kids in Athenry, Galway.

pixel German Born Nigerian writes a recession busting book for every household: 10 steps to Managing your household budget