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Moving to Australia: 10 Years of Cross-Cultural, Growth & Achievement for Maud Vanhoutte and New Reflections

Becoming an Australian Citizen and Embracing a New Culture without Denying My French Roots: A Cross-Cultural Success Story

Citizenship Ceremony for Maud Vanhoutte New Reflections Director
Maud Vanhoutte, New Reflections Founder & Director

As I reflect on the past decade, my journey from Paris, France, to Sydney, Australia, it's impossible to overlook the cultural shifts and personal growth experienced during this enriching period.

From founding Reflet Nouveau in Paris in 2008 to establishing New Reflections in Australia in June 2014, the last 16 years of Entrepreneurship have been filled with ups, downs, challenges, and successes that have shaped my life and the evolution of my company.

map showing trip from Paris to Sydney for New Reflections
From Paris to Sydney

I am a backpacker that never backpacked

I landed in Australia with the same visa as many “backpackers”, the working-holiday visa, although it was never about “holidays” for me. I was not planning on backpacking across the country. In fact, when many arrive with a light bag to stay mobile, I landed with 7 pieces of luggage, including my work material. My intentions were clear: I was here to start a new life and a new business.

Navigating Cross-Cultural Ups and Downs

The entrepreneurial journey is a blend of challenges and successes. From the initial hurdles of establishing a new business in a foreign land to navigating market dynamics and economic shifts, I have persevered and grown stronger. Each challenge has been a stepping stone to honing my skills, refining my strategies, and deepening my impact.

Challenges and Emotional Resilience when moving to Australia

When people tell me “you are so lucky”, well, this “luck” is not something that happened overnight. It took time, patience, strength, and more strength.

Believe it or not, the first few nights in Sydney were the hardest. I found myself grieving for the life I knew and loved, my family, friends and the familiar streets of Paris. It took time, patience, and emotional resilience to navigate the challenges of adapting to a new culture and environment.

It wasn't until I ventured beyond the urban landscape of Sydney that I truly fell in love with Australia. The natural beauty surrounding the city—from pristine beaches to lush national parks—became my sanctuary. My first crush was definitely with the Blue Mountains, I mean, what’s not to like there?

Values and Community Impact

The cultural transition from Paris to Sydney was not just about geographic relocation; it was a journey of embracing new values and community impact. Establishing yourself in a new country in the best cross-cultural experience you can imagine.

Paris, a city steeped in history, art, and tradition where the emphasis is on craftsmanship, and intellectual pursuits influenced my early career aspirations.

In contrast, Sydney, a city known for its laid-back lifestyle, multiculturalism, and entrepreneurial opportunities with a vibrant and diverse community instilled values of inclusivity, innovation, and social responsibility.

Embracing both the French and Australian cultures has enriched my perspective and influenced the way I approach business and life; with a cross-cultural approach.

Reflecting on my journey, I realise that embracing a new culture doesn’t mean letting go of your roots. It is about finding a harmonious blend between the two, celebrating diversity, and growing through every experience. Not later than yesterday one of my good friends told me “You are so French!”, I guess I am and will always be!

Frenchy chic with champagne for New Reflections

New Reflections: 10 years in Australia, bridging Cultures and empowering Communities

The fusion of Parisian sophistication and Sydney's progressive spirit inspired the vision behind New Reflections. Through our programs, we bridge cultures, celebrate diversity, and empower individuals to thrive in a globalised world. The growth of New Reflections from its Parisian roots to a thriving Training Centre in Sydney reflects my personal journey of embracing cultural diversity and fostering inclusivity.

Inclusivity and Community Engagement

At New Reflections, we are committed to cross-cultural, inclusivity and community engagement. We have dedicated sections within our programs focusing on social skills, life skills, and career development tailored for specific communities. With those dedicated programs, our goal is to empower individuals from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants, students, and marginalised communities, to enhance their social and professional capabilities.

10 Years of Australian Cross-Cultural and Growth of New Reflections

New Reflections has flourished over the past decade, growing from a modest catalogue of 20 programs to a comprehensive offering of 100 programs across various domains. Our commitment to empowering individuals with essential soft skills, leadership development, and personal growth opportunities has resonated with thousands of people across different industries and levels.

Becoming an Australian Citizen and Embracing a New Culture without Denying My Roots: A Cross-Cultural Adventure

Moving from Paris to Australia was not without its challenges. Adapting to a new culture, navigating different visa processes, and ultimately obtaining citizenship required strong determination.

Becoming an Australian citizen was an incredibly moving experience for me, especially during the official ceremony where I took the pledge. As I stood, reciting the words that affirmed my commitment to my new country, I couldn't help but feel a wave of emotions.

This moment represented the culmination of years of hard work, adaptation, and personal growth. The tears in my eyes were not just a reflection of the joy and pride I felt but also a tribute to the journey I had embarked upon—from feeling lost and homesick in a backpacker hotel to becoming a part of a community that I now consider home. This emotional moment was captured on video, symbolising not just a change in my legal status but a profound personal transformation.

10 Years of Profound Connection and Respect for the Native People of Australia

New Reflections respects the native people of Australia

The richness of Aboriginal culture in Australia has been a profound source of learning and inspiration for me. As I immersed myself in the vibrant tapestry of Indigenous traditions, art, and wisdom, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the land we inhabit and the stories it holds. 

I pay my deepest respects to the Aboriginal lands of Australia, acknowledging their custodianship for millennia and their ongoing connection to the land. In particular, I honour the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which Sydney stands. 

The resilience, spirituality, and deep connection to nature exhibited by the Aboriginal communities have left a lasting impact on my worldview. I am committed to continuing my journey of learning and understanding, as there is always more to explore and appreciate in the wealth of Aboriginal heritage. 

My interactions with Aboriginal culture have enriched my personal and professional life, influencing the ethos of New Reflections to embrace diversity, respect Indigenous perspectives, and contribute to reconciliation efforts. I am humbled by the depth of knowledge and wisdom within Aboriginal culture and eagerly look forward to learning more and fostering meaningful connections in the spirit of mutual respect and cultural exchange.

“Do you miss home? Will you ever return to Paris?”

To the questions “Do you miss home? Will you ever return to Paris?”. Yes, I do miss home, I do miss my family and the people I love. As we are speaking about France, yes, of course, I also miss the food and the good wine haha. Do I miss the culture? Will I want to return? I guess you can never say never, but it is not appealing to me. I adore the life I built here in Australia. I am lucky to be surrounded by the best people and I wouldn’t trade all the outdoor sunny times to the grey Parisian sky!  

Celebrating 10 Years of Cross-Cultural Success in Australia and Looking Ahead

As I celebrate a decade of growth and achievement, I am excited about the future of New Reflections. My commitment to empowering individuals, fostering diversity, and driving positive change remains unwavering. I look forward to expanding my impact, forging new partnerships, and continuing to be a catalyst for personal and professional growth in the years to come.

My journey with Australia and New Reflections is a testament to the transformative power of gratitude, resilience, and cultural appreciation. From tears of grief to moments of awe in nature's embrace, each experience has shaped my path and contributed to the growth of New Reflections as a beacon of empowerment and inclusivity. As I look ahead, I do so with a heart full of love for both my heritage and adopted homes, embracing the richness of dual cultures and the promise of a bright future filled with continued growth and impact.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

Maud Vanhoutte, Director, Training Facilitator & Executive Coach | New Reflections

4 Pillars for Soft Skills Development

At New Reflections, our core focus lies in developing essential soft skills that empower individuals and organisations to thrive. Our programs are built on four key pillars: 

Effective communication is at the heart of professional success. Our communication programs equip participants with the skills to articulate ideas, engage with diverse audiences, and foster meaningful connections. 

Leadership development is crucial for driving organisational growth and creating a positive impact. Our leadership programs nurture leadership qualities, strategic thinking, and effective decision-making. 

Continuous learning and growth are essential in today's dynamic world. We offer professional development programs that enhance people skills, growth management, and career progression strategies. 

Building a strong organisational culture and fostering teamwork are vital for sustainable success. Our people and culture programs focus on team dynamics, conflict resolution, and creating inclusive workplaces.

Discover 3 Related Training Courses for Cross-Cultural Intelligence

Click on a course below to learn more and take the next step in enhancing your cross-cultural skills:


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