Wow, I can’t believe its been over a year since I added more content to this series. I received so much great feedback from everyone about this series, so now is the time to start again! I am happy to feature Maddie this month, an expat in Hamburg from the UK. I met Maddie in April when I participated in one of her English spirituality & yoga workshops in Hamburg, and was truly inspired by her grace, passion and high vibes. Maddie is an expat in Hamburg, who has made a big impact on the English Yoga & Spiritual Community by starting her own brand ‘The Vegan Yogi Traveller’. She teaches English Yoga Classes in Hamburg and create spiritual & mindfulness workshops which not only activate the soul but bring like-minded international humans from Hamburg together. Yoga and mindfulness has been something that has been very important in my life these pasts months, and Maddie has made her living in Hamburg with these two themes and truly helping people discover new parts of themselves. Read more below on how she started her brand, battled being an expat, and created a life for herself which she loves!
Maddie - The Vegan Yogi Traveller
My name is Maddie, I will be turning 24 next week and I am originally from Wales in the UK (although I often feel like a citizen of the Earth). I studied Psychology at university and I absolutely love the movement of positive psychology and female empowerment. Currently I am working as freelance Yoga Teacher & Reiki Master, whereby I teach at five wonderful studios in Hamburg. I am also regularly running yoga, meditation, moon cycles and reiki workshops, with the intention of empowering and connecting women. Asides from teaching yoga and hosting workshops, my other passions and interests include reading (self-help/spirituality/philosophy), cooking (and eating) delicious vegan food, spending time in nature and creating art.
Why did you move abroad?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to travel, with the ultimate goal of ending up living in Australia. I was always fascinated by other cultures and the landscapes of other countries. I was lucky enough to be an only child, and therefore my parents were able to take me many places (including Australia) ever since I was a little girl. As soon as I finished my studies at university, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to escape the miserable weather of the UK and begin making my journey across the world. I managed to travel to many countries before reaching what I thought was my final destination in Australia. I ended up living there for over a year which was amazing, but then of course I had to meet and fall in love with a German man (which has landed me where I am today in Hamburg). I decided to move to Germany because honestly I had nothing tying me down. I was at a point in my life where I was truly free and anything was possible (including moving back to Europe).
Is it hard to be an expat?
Personally I don’t find it hard to be an expat, but perhaps that’s because of the industry I’m in. When I first moved to Germany (initially Dusseldorf) at the beginning of Summer, I started a Meetup group ‘Dusseldorf Reiki, Yoga & Meditation’. I would regularly hold yoga classes in the local parks and Reiki meetups at my flat. Because of this, I was constantly interacting with other expats and Germans. It ended up becoming one big huge international family and there was never a point where I felt alone or isolated, as so many others were going through the same experience as me which helped our bonds to grow deeper than it would in perhaps another situation. Then we had to move to Hamburg, I had to start all over again in growing my new community. I immediately began my Hamburg Reiki, Yoga & Meditation Meetup (which now has over 520 members) and began to repeat what I had set out to do in Dusseldorf. So from the social perspective, I find things really great as an expat. On the other hand, some things that can be a struggle is not being able to communicate so effectively and the bureaucracy and rules here are a lot of effort, however I am very grateful to have a German partner who can help me out with such things.
How did you get the idea to start The Vegan Yogi Traveller?
The idea for starting ‘The Vegan Yogi Traveller’ began long before it was actually all put into place, and definitely evolved and transformed over time. It was while I was studying for the final year of my degree that I entered into the world of veganism, and discovered its amazing benefits (not only for the animals but also for health, vitality and the environment). I was studying an online nutrition diploma alongside my studies, and I wanted to help people with their nutrition to become healthier and happier. It was also around this same time that I reconnected with my spirituality, was introduced to yoga and began attending an evening Buddhist school to learn about meditation and mindfulness. After accumulating all of these new experiences, I started a blog called ‘Vegan for Vitality’, where I would write articles and blogs about my experiences. I kept this going for a while, and even eventually began to coach people online for their nutrition and well-being. After graduating and travelling, I realised that I no longer wanted to live in the UK. I wanted to live and travel in as many countries as possible. After finally reaching Australia, and from there going solo to India to complete my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, I was no longer resonating with ‘Vegan for Vitality’. I wanted something more that would capture the broader range of my interests (yoga and travelling). Hence, ‘The Vegan Yogi Traveller’ brand was born. I wanted the name to contain the essence of my values and passions, allowing me to truly embody each of these areas in my life. From that point onwards, I created a new website and blog and began my adventures as ‘The Vegan Yogi Traveller’.
Do you think working abroad has advanced your career?
I think working abroad has definitely enabled me exposure and recognition in places and countries, I would never have previously thought of (India, Australia, the UK, Germany and Greece). But to be honest, I don’t really view ‘The Vegan Yogi Traveller’ as my career. It’s actually my whole life. It’s not something I can leave the office from at the end of the day and switch off from on the weekends, as everything I do is a huge part of who I am (if that makes sense). Coming from this perspective, I would say that being abroad as allowed me to expand and spread the messages that I’m trying to put out into the world, one community at a time. On the other hand, if we’re just looking at this from a teaching yoga perspective, then I would say that I have definitely faced more struggles than I probably would have in an English speaking country. For example, trying to teach in studios when I cannot teach in German was really tough, and it took me quite a while to build up to teaching at five studios in English. However, now I see it as a somewhat advantage, as teaching for the international community of Hamburg is now something that makes me stand out from the crowd.
What is your greatest achievement abroad?
I would say that one of my greatest achievement was definitely solo travelling to India and completing my yoga teacher training. I had never properly travelled solo before, and everyone was warning me that India was not the place to be going alone. However I let go of all of the doubts and worries that people planted in my head and just went. It was the most amazing, enriching, frustrating and humbling experience I’ve ever had. There was so much chaos and beauty, and I truly fell deeply in love with the country. Completing my yoga teacher training there was a really authentic and enlightening experience for me, which has changed my life in so many amazing ways. Straight after my training I flew back to Australia, where I went to volunteer as a yoga teacher at a holistic addiction retreat centre. My boyfriend was also there volunteering with me, where we spent three weeks over Christmas and New Year’s eve spending time (teaching yoga and other fitness activities) with those in recovery. This was such a humbling experience for me and it really allowed me to develop a deep sense of compassion for those individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. You can read more about my experiences at the addition centre in my personal blog here
What is your biggest learning experience from this?
My biggest learning experience from this, is recognising the value in taking the chance to go and do something completely out of your comfort zone. It’s so cliche I know, but life truly does begin at the end of your comfort zone, and when you truly put yourself out there, you allow yourself to embrace life to the fullest. I’ve come to learn that if there is something which makes me feel uncomfortable, then it is more times than not, an opportunity for me to expand and grow.
How do you make friends abroad and have a social life?
To be honest since living abroad, I’ve made 99% of my friends through my Meetup groups, yoga classes and events I’ve attended. I really think it is absolutely crucial for anyone living abroad and looking to make friends to join meetups and facebook groups and attend events which spark your interests. I’ve made some of my closest friends in this way and it makes it even more special when you genuinely hold such similar interests and passions in life.
Compare your life before moving abroad to now, which one is better?
I truly love the life I am living now and I would never swap it for the old life I had living in the UK. I really love being a part of an international community, and truly living in alignment with what I want to pursue in life. I feel that living abroad can enrich your life in so many ways and allows you to appreciate the little things.
Is it hard being away from your family? Do you often feel homesick?
Although I love my family very much, I don’t struggle to be away from home. I think this is because I moved to England while I was at university for three years, so by then I was used to being away from home. Things were a lot harder when I was living in Australia in terms of visiting, so now that I’m back living in Europe things aren’t so bad. I do often miss my mum as we have a really close relationship, but were on the phone to each other so often it’s like we’re hardly even apart. I also don’t think I’ve ever experienced this notion of homesickness, as I mentioned at the start I feel like a citizen of the Earth. Wherever I go, I always feel this deep sense of home within.
Are you happy here, will you ever move back home?
At the moment I am very happy living in Hamburg. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t plan on returning to the UK to live (but who knows). If anything though, I would be happy to experience life in another country, with the dream of ending up back in Australia one day.
What is your biggest tip to women wanting to move abroad, but don’t know where to start?
One day we'll all be on our deathbeds, some of us will be regretting the opportunities we didn’t take. I don’t want to be that someone. So go out and explore, give it a try and then if you do end up hating it, then you can always return back home with the satisfaction in knowing that at least you gave it a shot.
You can find all of Maddie’s English Mindfulness and Yoga workshops here (many are in Hamburg):
and all of her English Yoga Classes in Hamburg here (*as of June 2019)
You can stay up to date with all of her happenings on her Facebook page, too!
Maddie is a great example on how if you combine your passion with your job, you can really use it anywhere in the world! I am so happy to have found her and the community she has created.
Photography by livedelicioussly
All the best,