Editor: Mariana Brilhante

I was born in Germany close to Frankfurt and I grew up in the same place. My dad used to work at a bank and my mom was working part time for a dentist. I was blessed with a one day younger best friend who shared her parents as well as her sister with me.

Basically I have now three pairs of parents, as my parents got divorced when I was 11 and they are in very happy new relationships. My parents families are from Bavaria, so I spent a lot of time in the countryside hanging out with all my cool aunts and uncles. My parents new partners have children from previous relationships, so I have two bonus sisters and one bonus brother. 

I have been living in Lisbon, Portugal since 2020. I went on vacation there in 2019 and I thought it would be cool to live here, I wanted to live abroad for many years but never had the courage to do so. And then I did it. Quit my apartment, job, sold all my belongings, packed my suitcase and backpack and a month later I was in Lisbon. Ever since I am living kind of trilingual. A lot of German is  still going on as well as English and then tiny little drops of Portuguese. I am taking it slow with learning a new language rather than rushing into it and putting a lot of pressure on myself to learn a new language. 

Last year I moved 7 times, met so many new cool friends and I am living the happiest life – and I can tell you it has been full of challenges! 

Before moving to Portugal I was ill for many years. I was suffering a lot and focused a lot on getting better. I am not fully cured, BUT the move to Portugal was the best decision so far for my physical and mental health.

This year I lost two very close family members and my job, BUT I am sure that my loved ones are now in a good place and I started my own business (pet boarding) as well as I am focusing on supporting women in their businesses. I am learning so much from these courageous women who are building their own business – from Human Design, Yoga, Women Empowerment, I am part of some beautiful journeys and can put all my strengths in place.

I can say that there are some key moments that’ve shaped my life:
  1. The first half of 2021 for sure – so many challenges. I learned a lot. I grew up a lot.
  2. Living in India for one year after high school – a new culture, so many new impressions and the best food I have ever eaten in my life.
  3. Life in general. Everyday is a new day, with new learnings, new challenges, new people and precious moments. Grateful for everything – the good and the bad.

There are many learnings in every experience. When I moved to Portugal I wanted to leave my whole german identity behind and be me, only me. I did not want to be defined by the country of my upbringing. What I learned so far is that being german is part of me and I might have some german qualities, but nonetheless I am me. I’m happy to speak german and love teaching german with SPEAK to an amazing bunch of people and demystify the german culture. I am a citizen of the world and there is so much to learn about all the different cultures – we can learn so much about traditions. I love to honour traditions as well as making my own.

To get a bit more philosophical around the topic: There is not only black and white, there is a lot of grey. I love to be in the grey zone and I am doing my own thing, no matter what society tells me to do.

I learned to listen to my intuition and act on it. But as well as accepting everyone else’s opinion to do things a certain way (the “german” way). If life is a soundtrack – mine would be MY WAY by Frank Sinatra. Life is full of contradictions – I learned to not fight or understand these, I roll with them.

If I had to give an advice based on what i’ve learned it would be to NEVER GIVE UP! Sometimes there is so much shit happening, but to all of you out there – YOU can make gold out of it. Everything is happening for a reason. Show up. It is also okay to have a bad day, be lazy and wallow in your sorrows. Everything is going to be alright. Tomorrow is a new day.

What helps me are these little reminders: Always do your best. Don´t take anything personally. Don´t make assumptions. Be impeccable with your word. (The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)

For the future, I expect GREAT THINGS. Fun. Love. Happiness. Success. Exploring. My vision is to have my own farm. Biodynamic farming, Bed & Breakfast, Animals, Yoga, You name it, I will do it. I am a host and I will be hosting loads of people and cooking for them. Until then I will do my best to make this world a tiny little bit a better place. Starting with myself by taking good care of myself. 

Would you like to know more stories like Anni, check out Roula’s story, she is from Syria and is currently living in Portugal with her family.

Author: Mariana Brilhante

Mariana is Chief Marketing Officer at SPEAK, she loves nature and adventure, has a sort of obsession for typical sayings!

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