An Interview With Andrea Hunt Online Transformational Life Coach & Experienced Expat!
We recently spoke with Andrea Hunt, an online life coach, personal growth specialist, and expert in EFT Tapping for expats, to learn more about her personal and professional experiences!
1: What inspired you to live the expat life? Tell us about your journey….
My expat life started in 1998 when I moved to Mexico at 20 years old to study Spanish. At the time, I had no idea that this would become my life I just wanted to explore and honestly, I had some difficult teenage years and I knew that staying in Rochester Minnesota was not an option for me. I remember reading a Bob Dylan quote somewhere that said: "I didn’t know what I was looking for but I knew I wasn’t going to find it in Minnesota." Now, I love Minnesota but it was too cold and I wanted to travel, wanted to learn languages, wanted to meet new people and be adventurous. My grandmother was Mexican and I had always wanted to learn Spanish and Chinese so I contacted a coordinator who did study abroad and volunteer programs. I worked 2 different waitress jobs to save up money and leave for around 2 years. I had no idea that moving abroad was something I would do long term.
My original plan was to study Spanish in Mexico, do volunteer work in Mexico, and study Chinese in China. Intentions are strange things. I did all those things, but I never realised how the decision to leave would change my life forever and actually in better ways than I can imagine.
So I packed my bags and left to go to Mexico. The first night I sat there in my room of the guest house and cried. I wondered if I was crazy, stupid, or what. But that decision was one of the best things I had ever done. I learned Spanish, had so many friends both from Mexico and all over the world, and I learned to live abroad and thrive while doing it. That move completely opened up the rest of my life and empowered me to do it again and again.
2: What challenges have you faced as a woman living in a foreign country? Did you face cultural/language barriers? etc..
I would say my challenges as a woman abroad have generally been manageable except that I have learned a lot about safety due to traveling extensively on my own. There are many things I learned such as never sacrificing safety to save money and I don’t mean staying in luxury areas either. It’s about taking the taxi versus walking alone at night; I think living abroad teaches you a lot of street smarts in terms of trying to be proactive with your safety and always be aware of your surroundings. In terms of culture, I would only say that yes, definitely there are language and cultural differences that are always at play and of course, you’re always treated better when you can speak the language. So, everywhere I’ve lived I’ve made the effort to study and learn the language.
3: What is life like as a transformational coach? How did you get started and what has been your biggest achievement so far?
I absolutely love what I do and what’s most important is that I can help people with the exact or similar challenges as I’ve had over the years. It’s amazing how living in another country can be absolutely incredible, new, exhilarating and make you feel unstoppable some days. …And other days your confidence crumbles as you can’t explain yourself well enough at the visa office, you lose your job due to layoffs, or go through a breakup abroad. For me, those were really my biggest moments of vulnerability and growth as an expat and the hardest. Trying to put yourself back together after something significant like that is hard to say the least but it teaches you a resilience and the knowing that no matter what happens, you will manage.
In terms of coaching, because I’ve always been interested in personal development. I love workshops, evaluating what’s working and not in my life, taking steps that scare me to get out of my comfort zone and never look back. However, like many people, I tried to be practical and play it safe staying in my 9-5.. I loved the jobs but it definitely felt like something was missing and I wasn’t really doing what I was meant to do. I put my idea on the back burner. Well, the universe had other plans. End of 2019, 80 people at my company got laid off in one day because our parent company decided to restructure. I did NOT see that coming. And I was one of them. I thought about getting certified as a coach. Then I got offered another job immediately and again, playing it safe, I took it. I played it safe. I was practical.
Again, the universe had other plans. Enter the COVID pandemic and guess who got laid off again due to company restructuring since I was one of the new hires? Yep. So, at this point it felt like the biggest wake up call and I really had to evaluate things and say to myself: ok WHAT is this trying to teach me? And you know what? I realised that my path had been cleared for me and I was going to take it. I enrolled in Animas Centre for Coaching UK immediately and I got my own coach. As I was completing my coaching hours, topics kept coming up that I knew I could address with EFT tapping, something that up to that point, had been a mind-body tool I used to manage my anxiety and emotional health. So why stop with coaching? I enrolled into a course for EFT tapping certification that I was able to work on much of lockdown in Germany.
Transformational coaching and EFT tapping have such a special place in my heart because I know first hand how they provide clarity, motivation, healing, and transformed the weakest areas of my confidence and imposter syndrome. Every day I am grateful for this gift to help people step out of their comfort zones, work on old emotional programming that creates fear, insecurity, and anxiety so they can take their lives to the next level. Being a coach has transformed me and I learn so much from my clients and feel truly blessed to do the work I do.
Many of my clients in their 40s are at the point I was in, that’s now sometimes referred to as the “Mid-life Awakening.” Unlike a midlife crisis where you go look for external validation in the form of cars, more money, etc., a Mid-life Awakening is when you look around and realise half of your life has gone by - and you think to yourself ‘if not NOW, then when? And if not ME, then whom?”
Other clients are younger and very self-aware that they know exactly where their pain points are whether it’s anxiety, imposter syndrome, comparing themselves, wondering if they’re on the right path, wanting to get out of their comfort zone corporate job they hate ((I wasn’t that self aware in my 20s and early 30s I can tell you that!). They just need a bit of guidance to make it happen and we ALL need that sometimes. You just have to know when to ask.
4: Where have you worked/studied/lived that has been the most fulfilling and a place you would recommend?
That’s a really hard question because I’ve now lived, worked, or studied in Mexico, Argentina, Italy, the UK, China, and now Germany, where I’ve been for 10 years now. All of those places brought me different lessons and awakenings at different points in my life and each one has its incredible aspects as well as challenging ones. I love Asia and Latin America as much as I love Europe so it’s hard to say where I recommend because it’s important to know what your comfort zone is and ask yourself how far away you want to go. Be honest with yourself about culture as one that’s really different from yours can also be the most isolating.
In terms of the most transformative, I have to say the answer hands down would be China. When I was 28 I moved to Zhejiang Province alone to teach English for a year then to Beijing to study Chinese first and then work. My BA degree is in journalism, so I worked for the Chinese radio and also various online publications like eChinacities and China Daily. Overall, nothing could have prepared me for the incredible experience I had there from 2006-end of 2012. That’s probably my most challenging living abroad experience as I was there for about 7 years and China turned me into who I am as a person today. I learned flexibility and patience and to deal with uncertainty, understanding how the world really works. China has changed a lot since I was there (pandemic, etc) and I’m grateful that I was there before and after the Olympics and the Global Financial Cri