People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, Innovation Origins has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Avril Guarino
Country of Origin: France
Work: Freelance Graphic Designer

On a somewhat stormy morning, we meet up with Avril at the Parktheater. It is already quite busy at the theatre at this hour: groups of kids doing workshops and the Seats2Meet workplace is filled with people. We get a cup of coffee and find a place to sit. Of course, we want to know how Avril ended up in Eindhoven. “Well, let me start with what happened before I chose to come to Eindhoven. After I graduated in Marseille, I didn’t get accepted at the school of my choice. That was a big disappointment. I didn’t have a backup plan. I knew if I wanted to broaden my horizon, now was the time. I decided to go Japan for a month. That trip was amazing! I slept at Japanese homes thanks to Couchsurfing and it felt really good to be there. After I returned to France, all I could think about was going back to Japan.”

In case you are wondering where the Eindhoven part in the story is, just wait a bit, and keep reading. “In two months I arranged everything at home in France and left for Japan for a year. Food and a place to sleep are very expensive over there, that’s why I worked at hostels, schools and families and they provided a bed and food for me. Every month I had a different job via Work Away. I’ve worked as a French teacher, English teacher, cleaner, receptionist, and much more. When I was working and living in Hiroshima, I met a nice Canadian guy. What are the odds, right? He was travelling with friends, so he didn’t stay very long. But we kept in touch and fell in love.”

So Japan and a Canadian boyfriend. How on earth did Eindhoven got involved in this? “Almost there! After leaving Japan, I lived in France again, this time in the north and my boyfriend and I had a long distance relationship. You might think he lived in Canada, but no: he got a nice Job in Eindhoven! Every six weeks we travelled to see each other. I’m happy he chose Eindhoven because I love it here.”

When she returned to France, Avril found a job as a graphic designer. “I got a lot of opportunities at this company, but the ambience wasn’t good. I didn’t feel happy there and I dreaded going to work. My boyfriend suggested several times that I should join him in Eindhoven. I wanted it, but it was also a big step. What would living together mean for our relationship? But being with him would make me so happy! I arrived in Eindhoven four months ago and the super good feeling of seeing each other every day instead of every six weeks is still there. We both have our own things we like to do, we are not glued together. I even started a webcomic about our relationship. It is called The Adorkables. We have a lot of fun together.”

“In our spare time, we like to go to The Hub. Every Monday we go there to join the international game night. We play board games and get to know other internationals. Locals can join too, by the way! My boyfriend is also in the comedy improv club. Stand up improv comedy is not my cup of tea, but when he is on stage I am there to support him. This weekend I’m going to visit the Expat Fair and see if can make connections for my work. I am a freelancer now, so I need to build on my network.”

Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel