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Think Global, Act Local: What I Learned From Living on Four Continents

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

I met Alice Ancel at the EDC Welcome Party two years ago when she had just relocated to Fargo. As a child of the world, we hit it off right away and I was astonished by her record of 17 moves… so far.

You’ve moved a ton and our readers may wonder, why?

Growing up, we moved as a family multiple time for my dad’s career. Since I moved to the US in 2008, I have relocated for school – undergraduate degree in Canada, Master’s in France and China- and for work opportunities. I’ve always been a seeker for adventure and new experiences, hence the moves to Morocco and multiple states in the US, including North Dakota!

What is your favorite city you’ve ever lived in and why?

Montreal for its cultural diversity, it’s welcoming vibe and the constantly evolving entertainment scene. A close second is Barcelona, again for the local diversity, but also for its unique ambiance, its history and for being so close to many European fun places.

What is the hardest versus the easiest thing to do when moving?

The hardest thing is to leave friends and family behind and start from scratch every time. The easiest thing is also starting from scratch. As my friends rightfully say, it is an opportunity for a blank slate, a new adventure. You get to write a new story each time.

Do you have tricks to make the physical move easier?

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack, really! Start with a closet cleanup and get rid of what you haven’t used in six plus months. One, you’ll have less to move and two, items in good condition can contribute to local charities.

Another trick is to pack by room (the ones you use least to most) and label your boxes. It can get messy and frustrating when you need access to specific things and don’t know where you packed them.

Make sure you discontinue the services at the place you leave and forward your mail to another address. That’s when friends and family are awesome if you haven’t found a new home yet!

Ancel is the Canada Channel Manager at Microsoft. She travels often and can be found at the airport on a regular basis.

Alice’s top 5 things to do when moving:

Stay connected with friends from your previous home(s). Moving does not mean forgetting; real friends will stick around regardless of where you live. Use social media to show them around so they come visit!

Find a place to live in a vibrant neighborhood and take time to make your home cozy. Nothing worse than coming home to boxes. My tip – make your bed first!

Lookup local activities and go. It’s ok to go alone! Check out Facebook for community events.

Find a local group to get involved in frequently. What do you care about? Sports? Food? Outdoors activities? Volunteering? All of the above? Think about your passion and use that as a channel to network. I personally joined WIT (Women in Technology) and organizations at work that have community activities. I also do not miss any Folkways events to meet great people.

Embrace it. You made this move happen and it may not last forever, so you might as well make the most of it.

Top things to avoid when moving?

Think about your set high expectations. Think about it: if you don’t have expectations, you can only be pleasantly surprised.

As much as you love to Netflix and chill, finishing a show in three days isn’t going to cut it. Get off your couch!

Overpacking. What do you really need? Do your research, your surfboard may not be useful in ND, but your golf bag will definitely come in handy.

What do you tell your family and friends when they ask you why are you still in Fargo?

I originally moved thinking “12 months, one winter, and that’s it.” Eighteen months later, I am still here and just survived a second winter. I tell them that I am grateful to live in a city where I can have such a great work-life balance, enabling me to focus on my career while being able to enjoy personal time and have an impact in the community.

Favorite Fargo event or activity?

By far the Red River Market/Christkindlemarket where I spend most of my Saturdays when I am in town in the summer and fall. It is a fun way to get to know local vendors and meet people.

5 words to describe your Fargoesque Experience?

Community. Kindness. Opportunities. Welcoming. Cold.

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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