Episode 40: Vanessa Arnold - "Learning in Context"
It should be fairly evident at this point that people move for all kinds of reasons. Most certainly, I’ve interviewed people who have moved for relationships such as Lola Akinmade Akerstrom or because of a sense of peace and wellness such as Roshida Dowe.
But I am pretty sure the most common reason I’ve heard is because of professional opportunities. As you might remember, in previous episodes, Audra Gordon relocated to Hong Kong, when she decided to take the chance to expand her career as an international banker. Or Dr. Carmen Brown, who moved with her husband, continues to practice medicine in their adopted home of Australia.
And for that reason, Vanessa Arnold is no different. But as you’ve also figured out by now, no one person’s story is truly typical. The New York native has been living in Berlin, Germany, now for over a decade, where relocated to put her linguistic degree to work.
She is a cross-cultural kid, whose upbringing was partially influenced by her mother’s Trini background as much as her dad’s, who hails from North Carolina. In this episode, we discuss some of her early cultural observations she developed visiting both places as a child and how they would prepare for her eventual life abroad.
Vanessa explains how she unexpectedly pursued that linguistic degree and how that put her on the path to moving to Germany. She shares the challenges of trying to navigate a new country when you don’t know the language, or the people and have limited connections. She also describes the differences she’s experienced being a dark skinned Black woman in Berlin and in New York.
This is Vanessa’s story on this episode of the Global Chatter.
- Her reflections on connecting with the two distinct cultures of her parents as a child
- How studying linguistics prepared for life abroad
- The need to be adventurous and persistent while moving abroad for the first time
- Understanding her Blackness in a German context
To hear the full episode, click below or listen wherever you get your podcasts.