Tell us about yourself
I’m Raphaëlle, aged 41 and a mum to 4 children. I can happily define myself as a nomadic coach and journalist. Nomadic because since the age of 7, I’ve always lived abroad, whether with my parents or husband. I’ve a strong family group that follows me everywhere, which means that being an expat is like an opportunity and a privilege for me. My “home sweet home” is where my children and husband are along with my daily life. France is where my roots are, my point of reference, but it’s not my home. My home is something I take with me on my travels. In time, I’d love to live for six months in France and six months in another country to experience a daily life that changes every year. We’re getting ready to go back to France for six months and I must admit that this is more challenging for me than thinking about moving to another country. I feel a real pressure and am a little apprehensive, even though I really know things will be great
and I’ll have thousands of project to tackle. It’s strange, isn’t it?
Where do you live?
I live in Herzilia, in a chic seaside suburb to the north of Tel Aviv. I’m a real city dweller and love life in our district and going to meet people; I would have preferred to live in Tel Aviv itself but it’s true that our quality of life here is wonderful. We life 50 metres from a sandy white beach and 5 minutes from the school and my husband’s office. So, life’s really nice even though it’s sometimes a little too quiet for my liking.
How did you come to be here?
I followed my husband. I’m what you call an “accompanying partner”. Basically, I follow my husband and invent life as we go along. I’m not the typical traumatised woman who has to leave her country and job to follow her partner. Of course, moving every two to three years as a family takes energy and is tiring, especially since it isn’t always easy to support your husband and thrive professionally without going round in circles. However, I’m very lucky because I’ve been able to invent a tailor-made job and suits me well. It allows me to find an overall balance and to really blossom. I always prepare for my moves in advance by taking all the contacts I need and usually take advantage of the time waiting for my furniture to meet lots of new people. I get on board with my personal and social networks and immediately get to grips with my new life. For me, this is the key to fulfilment. I was lucky to be born with energy and view each of my moves with great excitement.
Have you lived aboard before? If so, in which countries?
I’ve lived in many countries. I was born in Lyon, France and then went to Switzerland (Berne), the U.S (New York), France (Paris), Belgium (Brussels), Germany (Berlin) then back to Paris and Italy (Milan) for my studies. Then, me and my husband went to Japan Tokyo, England (London), China (Shanghai), Singapore, and finally Israel (Tel Aviv), where we’ve been since the summer of 2016. I can’t tell you how spoiled and grateful I feel to have experienced this kind of life. I feel highly privileged and am aware of this.
When living abroad, you discover the country and its culture but also other foreigners and other French people you can quickly get to know, enjoying positive experiences. I always say that being an expat is a catalyst for human relationships, whether in France or abroad. The connections that must grow do so more quickly while others strengthen naturally. Since my work is particularly flexible, I can take time to stay in touch with my friends and family. New technologies really help with this. It’s very important for me to maintain my relationships even though I’m physically far away from those who are dear to me. I consider myself to be a faithful friend.
How long have you been here?
We’ve been living here for two years. I’ve nine year-old twins and a boy who’ll be 5 soon. In terms of logistics, I settled down fairly quickly because I got used to things and, before arriving, I was already thinking about a book I wanted to write on women in Israel. Also, as soon as I knew I was coming here from Singapore, I got in touch with the “Petit Journal de Tel Aviv” (The Little Tel Aviv Magazine” (www.lepetitjournal.com/tel-aviv), an online magazine for French speaking people right across the world. I’ve now been working with them for 10 years.
You’ve started a project: how did you get the idea for this and why did you choose this theme?
I’ve two jobs: I’m a journalist and a coach and my work in these areas has been different according to where I’ve lived. Since I decided to look after my daughter who was born here to make the most of my last baby, I had to make some choices. Israel is a fascinating and rich country and I wanted to go out and meet people to write a series of profiles. So, I used my work as a journalist here to do this. I’ve the best job in the world. As a journalist, I can go and meet people, explore the country and take my children everywhere. This is the norm in Israel: a child is always welcome, whether at a
doctor’s appointment (five of us turned up to each ultrasound appointment!), in the office or at an interview. You simply couldn’t do this in other countries where they’d think it was unprofessional. It’s widely tolerated here. For example, last month, my family accompanied me to visit a Bedouin lady who had eight children and one disabled child. They welcomed us warmly and even gave us a meal. We found this extraordinary. It’s even true to say that when my children are with me, doors have opened and people have trusted me, as well as put their faith in me. It breaks down barriers and creates a special relationship. I’m very aware of this and grateful that I’ve experience it in the Holy Land.
Tell us how you organise your time between your business and personal life?
Everyone has their own definition of happiness and balance. For me, a good day is where I’ve enjoyed a good interaction with someone, where I’ve been useful and where I’ve been “creative” (by writing, for example). It’s also where I’ve enjoyed being with my family and have been able to take part in my sport. Like many mothers, I know I have time restrictions and sometimes I need to involve my children in activities without necessarily asking their opinion. Being a mum, an entrepreneur and a woman, sometimes you need to find all kinds of tips to make sure you don’t forget about yourself
and have time to grow.
Self-help is something I emphasise in my children’s education. Here in Tel Aviv, unlike Singapore where I had a lot of help, I feel we have a much healthier family life where everyone mucks in and helps each other. I always try to show children that a thankless task can often be seen as a nice service or a good thing to do for others. Helping me to make up the guest room is definitely considered a job but, above all, it honours the person who’s coming to stay and makes them happy. One of my favourite sayings is A little effort gives great pleasure! Basically, the balance between my professional and personal life is quite easy, but we’ll see what awaits us in Paris in the next six months and next year when we’re off on another mission.
So, you’re a very busy “Mompreneur”?
My days are fairly hectic, but I don’t feel like I’m flat out because I’m very organised and I also encourage my children to be self-sufficient. I won’t lie, I’ve never liked going to the park; on the other hand, I often invite friends for my children, or they go to see their friends, which makes them happy while giving me time to work.
Tell us about a sudden inspirational moment of happiness? Moments I share with my family, meetings through work, especially when I take my troupe along to show them how great my job is. In addition to being a “Mompreneur”, what sort of cultural things do you enjoy right now on your own or with your family?
There’s the Israeli Modern Art Museum, which is full or things to see and well organised, with the unusual feature of many different artworks in the grounds outside. It’s beautiful and really enjoyable for the children.
Time for a bit of culture: Can you quote one of your favourite books or paintings?
Shame on my because I don’t read much as it’s too much alongside my work as a journalist! At, least, that’s my excuse! However, I make up for this by meeting people. I love words and conversation. Meetings and discussions move me deeply. I learn lots, eat and am inspired by listening to a story. I like testimonials and true stories. I also like
the “Toltec Agreements” or “Language of love”;, which are simple and meaningful books that really speak to me. The Four Toltec Agreements: The path to personal freedom
Can you recommend a current cultural event in your city or area?
Israel has a strong reputation for contemporary dance. Me and my husband went to a fantastic dance performance: Kibbutz contemporary dance . There were many religions present among the dancers and audience and it was moving to see how art had brought Jews and Muslims together. The performance is going to be in France in June.
Article by Raphaelle on this event here
Can you summarise the lifestyle in the country where you’re living as an expat?
Here, life revolves around various festivals that correspond to events for Torah. For example, Passover at Easter. Passover is one of the most important festivals in the Jewish religion. This 8-day festival commemorates the departure from Egypt and the birth of the Israeli people. In more general terms, it’s a festival of freedom. You can’t make or eat any food containing yeast (“Hametz”) during the feast. You have to eat matzoth, which are wafers of unleavened bread. Each house must be clear of all traces bread or food containing yeast during the 8 days of Passover.
This custom is called ” Hamets Hunt”;. All hamets must be donated, destroyed or sold. The day before Easter, the whole family searches for the last “hametz”; crumbs and those that are found are burned the following morning during a blessing, condemning all the Hamets that escaped the hunt to turn to “dust”.
Can you tell me about your project?
I’m a journalist and work in different areas, but at the moment, I’m working for the petitjournal.com, a magazine for French-speaking people living abroad. I write about all kinds of things that take place in the city where I live, for example, about children, interviews with women, cultural events, gourmet experiences … I write about what I discover.
How did you develop your project?
The petitjournal.com is a franchise and I submit my articles to be published in the daily newsletter for our subscribers. The magazine reaches 65 countries across the world.
Thanks to the Petit Journal, as well as its charismatic founder Hervé Heyraud and the friendly team, I’m able to work anywhere, which helps me to thrive. The Petit Journal has opened many doors for me and is largely the reason why I’ve been successful as an expat. I’m very grateful and will always appreciate my wonderful business card that’s unlocked a whole new world for me.
What do you get from your experience?
On a professional level, I’ve discovered Israeli culture and stayed in touch with it. I wrote a book over the course of 2 years, motivated by meeting the many inspiring women who I depicted. On a personal level, we’ve lived a very rich life in terms of culture, which has given us wonderful opportunities to meet other people. There’s definitely a certain vibe in the Holy Land. Israel will remain a defining point before we move onto our next country, the Philippines. We’re leaving to go and work on a humanitarian project there. We’ve got business to do!
If you’d like to buy Raphaëlle’s published books, you can find them here:
The Chinese Satchel
Tokyo Sisters : Dans l’intimité des femmes japonaises