We are delighted to welcome Norwegian Unni Holtedahl to our team of Summertime book reviewers. As a writer, she took a risk and decided to start an online magazine for other expats in the place in which she currently lives – Luxembourg.
The famous second chance
We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance. – Harrison Ford.
Moving abroad could be one of those big changes offering a second chance. When you become an expat, you’ve already moved on in one sense of the term, and you could choose – because it is often a choice – to use this new existence to make another move. Expat life might just trigger something in you; to do something you’ve always wanted to do or never thought you’d do, to think in a different way or go in a brand new direction. I believe other things trigger this as well – having babies, reaching a certain age – and sometimes all these trigger factors coincide and become forceful.
My move was actually about going back in time, to when I was a 6-year-old girl writing poems, a proud 10-year-old getting one published in the local paper and an equally proud 12-year-old having her poems featured on national radio. I took out old school papers and diaries and wondered why the writing stopped. But then it didn’t, not really, and now I had the time to feel the need, and the opportunity to do something about it – a Norwegian in Luxembourg and an expat wife with school children.
After a course in creative writing, I somewhat surprisingly turned to journalism – and loved it! I found myself in feature and narrative journalism, combining journalistic writing with literary elements in real stories about real people. No stories are better.
After my studies though, I soon found out that life as a freelance journalist is challenging, especially writing either from afar or in a language that isn’t your own. Along came expat life again, offering yet another chance.
It occurred to me that I was neither the only expat wife around, nor the only one with a talent wanting to be let out. If I were to start up an online expat magazine… it might just work! Sure enough, talented people with knowledge, passion and time on their hands were easy to find in a tiny country of almost 50% expats. Soon there were enough writers covering enough topics, and CLEW Magazine, short for Calling Luxembourg Expat Women, was born. Word spread quickly – another advantage of a tiny country – and CLEW gained readers and a fair share of attention.
And me – I’m gaining experience as a journalist and an editor that will come in handy when the next change or chance comes along, and l keep in mind that the word career comes from Latin carriera via meaning carriage road. I’ll choose to see it as the road I follow rather than the ladder I climb.
Bio: Norwegian living in Luxembourg, mother of two, journalist with sociology and French , working part time with HR in a bank, part time writer and editor.
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