Jewelle Bejjavarapu is a life coach and CEO of her business, Simply Jewelle Intercultural Life Coaching where she coaches globally-minded women who feel unsupported or isolated, feel confident and worthy in their relationships.

Jewelle’s passion for becoming a global citizen herself, led her to live abroad in Costa Rica. She’s also traveled to India, Iceland, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Europe, Mexico, Peru and will be living as a digital nomad with her husband for four months around Southeast Asia starting this December.

She draws upon her personal experience of being in many intercultural relationships and in intercultural marriage to her husband who is Indian. She knows what it takes to break the status quo. She coaches women to build a multicultural identity and bridge cultural gaps in their intercultural relationships and lives. Her goal is to empower women, to expand their identities, learn that there’s not one right way of thinking or being, and believe they are enough.

Jewelle holds her BA in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Spanish as well as her Masters of Science and Education in Bilingual Education. This multicultural high achiever is talking to us today about cultural differences we see in America, her life abroad and here and her entrepreneurial business.

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Alice: Hi everyone! I’m Alice, the social media manager for Jubilance and today I’m talking with Jewelle Bejjavarapu.

Jewelle is a life coach and CEO of her business, Simply Jewelle Intercultural Life Coaching where she coaches globally-minded women who feel unsupported or isolated, feel confident and worthy in their relationships.

Jewelle’s passion for becoming a global citizen herself, led her to live abroad in Costa Rica. She’s also traveled to India, Iceland, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Europe, Mexico, Peru and will be living as a digital nomad with her husband for four months around Southeast Asia starting this December.

She draws upon her personal experience of being in many intercultural relationships and in intercultural marriage to her husband who is Indian. She knows what it takes to break the status quo. She coaches women to build a multicultural identity and bridge cultural gaps in their intercultural relationships and lives. Her goal is to empower women, to expand their identities, learn that there’s not one right way of thinking or being, and believe they are enough.

Jewelle holds her BA in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Spanish as well as her Masters of Science and Education in Bilingual Education. This multicultural high achiever is talking to us today about cultural differences we see in America, her life abroad and here and her entrepreneurial business. So, welcome Jewelle, thank you so much for joining us!

Jewelle: Thank you so much for having me! This is so much fun! Can’t wait!

Alice: We’re so excited to have you on. We just want to start with some fun questions to get to know you a little bit more. Okay, chocolate or cheese?

Jewelle:
Chocolate, 100%.

Alice: Why?

Jewelle: I eat chocolate, one piece of chocolate after lunch every day

Alice: Wow.

Jewelle: Organic chocolate. I eat one piece, that’s my sweet for the day.

Alice: Wow, that’s great, I wish I had that self-control.

Jewelle: Yes, I actually learned it in part of a diet to help menstrual pain and PMS. And they were like, “Get a little sweet in! just not too much”

Alice:
Uh-huh.

Jewelle: I’m like, “Nice! I’m doing it!”

Alice: Wow, that’s amazing.

Jewelle: Yes.

Alice: Okay, TV or a movie?

Jewelle: Probably TV, yes, I love TV series, they’re fun, I watch “The Handmaid’s Tale” and I totally finished watching that.

Alice: It’s so good.

Jewelle: I could not stop.

Alice: Hair pulling but great.

Jewelle: Yes, terrifying, I was like– I had nightmares.

Alice: Yes.

Jewelle: Oh my gosh, it was scary, but it was so good. And so, like, “Oh boy, this says so much.” So, I love it.

Alice: Perfect. Okay, tampon or pad?

Jewelle: I actually use a DivaCup and Thinx underwear.

Alice: Oh, cool! How do you like the underwear?

Jewelle: I love it, I’m never going back. It’s comfortable, absorbing, I wouldn’t wear it just alone, personally? So, that’s why I use a DivaCup, but as far as having something extra there, it’s perfect.

Alice: Oh that’s good.

Jewelle: You don’t feel like you’re in a diaper, that’s what I hate about pads

Alice: Perfect. Thank you!

Jewelle: Yes.

Alice: So, you’re living in Florida now, where are you living there?

Jewelle: So, I’m in Tampa and we moved there for my husband’s job.

Alice: Oh great! What’s your favorite thing about Tampa?

Jewelle: The weather, 100%, it’s like hot, humid, sunny. You could not ask for more.

Alice: That’s awesome, are you at Disney Land all the time?

Jewelle: I’ve actually only been in Disney Land once, and that was when I was in 8th grade.

Alice: No! But you live right there!

Jewelle: I’m not a big rollercoaster rides person?

Alice: Okay.

Jewelle: So, you’d think, “Living in Florida you’re in Disney Land” or like, “Live in Florida you go to the beach all the time.” But it’s kind of like when you live in someplace; you don’t really go and do the sites?

Alice: Okay, that makes sense. Yes.

Jewelle: That was my dream and I was like, “Oh, we’re going to move to Florida! And we’ll get the beach every day!” it like, “hasn’t happened.” but it’s okay.

Alice: That works too; you get the wonderful weather, so that’s great.

Jewelle: Exactly.

Alice: Yes. Do you have a favorite restaurant there?

Jewelle: So, I love this place called Datz and it has really good burgers, really good fries, everything’s really good. And then, next to Datz there’s a shop called Dough, which they also own, and it has donuts, and they even have like a burger where it’s like “Donut, burger, donut!” Which is obviously my favorite?

Alice: That sounds awesome.

Jewelle: Yes! Like, what could be better? Donuts and burgers, done!

Alice: That’s really great!

Jewelle: The American dream! Right there!

Alice: Exactly!

Jewelle: Oh, boy.

Alice: Yes, so, I know you don’t have the typical changing seasons but do you guys have fall traditions that you do nonetheless?

Jewelle: I could go to Starbucks and drink pumpkin spice lattes that are iced? I don’t know if that counts as a fall tradition.

Alice: Yes, that’s great! I think that’s awesome.

Jewelle: Yes, they do have pumpkins and hayrides in Florida? But I grew up in New Hampshire so I don’t do that, sometimes here because it just doesn’t seem realistic. I’m kind of like, “This is fake.” Totally forget about it.

Alice:
Got you. And can you talk a little bit more about that? So, you said you grew up in New Hampshire and you kind of lived all over the world, so, what brought you to living in Florida and then also what is brought you to all of these places?

Jewelle: Yes! So, I mostly grew up in New Hampshire, kind of in New England in general, I was born in Boston and lived in multiple different houses. I think I moved 20 times in my life.

Alice: Wow!

Jewelle: So, it’s a lot. I lived in England for five months when I was in 8th grade and then I went to college in a small town near St. Louis, Missouri. So, I did that for four years and then after college, I moved to Costa Rica for two years and taught English and second grade in a bilingual private school there.

Alice: That sounds amazing.

Jewelle: Then New York City and now Florida. It’s like, “Have to get back to Florida somehow.”

Alice:
Wow, that’s amazing.

Jewelle: Yes!

Alice: And also, you were also in Nicaragua for some time as well, right?

Jewelle:
Yes, I was. So, I went abroad in college to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, first semester.

Alice: Okay.

Jewelle: This group called CELL, Center for Ecological Living and Learning. So, I was a sustainability environmental studies Major in college, so we went down there and studied sustainability and lived in host families the entire time, which was an amazing experience. I feel like I really learned– they taught me so much about myself, because when you’re living in another culture you have to really examine your own values and your own belief systems, and that really puts you out and doesn’t let you just feel, “Oh! This is what I believe” and done.

So, I guess I really questioned thoughts that I had, and why I was thinking that way, and really realized my own thinking is totally culturally subjective. And for example, the families I was living with didn’t have too many creature comforts, like in Nicaragua I stayed with a family for a week, and they didn’t have running water, we cooked in a solar oven. And so, they didn’t have these things that I was used to having, that I took for granted living in United States, but they were so much less stressed and so much happier than I was, I was like, “Why is this?”

Alice: Wow.

Jewelle: My 20-year-old-self was like, “How does this work? I thought having all these things meant you were happy, and then you wouldn’t stress!” and I realized it was because they weren’t thinking like, “Oh, we have to arrive at this place.” And they didn’t have– They felt like they didn’t have to arrive at this place and be like, “Okay! When I do this, I’ll be happier, when I do this, I’ll be successful.” They’re just totally living in the present. This family was really content, happy with the life that they had.

Alice: Wow. And can you talk about how this trip abroad kind of spurred what you’re doing now and how did you even get to intercultural life coaching, and what is it?

Jewelle: Yes! So, this whole trip abroad, really kind of opened my eyes to that people have a different life experiences and different perspectives and that’s okay, it’s good to have different perspectives, it really broadens you out, I think I learned more about myself in those three months during my time abroad than my entire life.

Alice: Wow.

Jewelle: Just because I questioned everything, I asked, “Why?” I saw people doing things differently and realized, “That’s okay, I can do it this way and they can do it that way, great!” and learned so much. And so, I think that realization and that love of immersing myself in a different culture, surrounding myself with people who think differently than I do, people who don’t have the same experiences, really opened my eyes to what life could be like.

And kind of seeing, “Okay, I don’t have to follow this traditional path of go to college! Get a career! Get married, have a house, stay in my job forever.” All that kind of like middle-class traditional things that you follow, and I realized, “I don’t have to do that if I don’t want to, I could do something else or I could do that!” and it really didn’t matter, but just seemed like there where options, that people lived differently.

And so, I think that really spurred my love for other cultures, and my love for other languages, and I went back, after college, I graduated and two-weeks later I packed all my backs, best friend in toe and she stayed six months but I ended up staying two years.

Alice: Amazing.

Jewelle: Teaching English and living abroad because you can’t teach what you don’t know, you can’t advocate what you don’t know about. So, that was really my– immersing myself, and so, I learned how to live in another place and it’s like, kind of proved it to myself.

Alice: Wow. That’s amazing.

Jewelle: Yes.

Alice: And what happened after that? I read on your bio that you came back and you were a teacher and what spurred you to leave that?

Jewelle: Yes, so, after teaching for like a year and not having any experience or a degree teaching, I thought, “Maybe I should get some experience, maybe I should get a degree, maybe I should figure how you actually really do this!” and so, I’ve been, like, faking it until I made it, which I totally loved, I loved it! So, I moved to New York City to go to Bank Street College of Graduate Education, which is one of the best bilingual programs in the nation and studied bilingual education there, so, my masters was half in Spanish and half in English.

Alice: Wow.

Jewelle: And I taught up in Harlem, I worked in the South Bronx, I worked at a private school and international private school on Wall Street, another private school in Brooklyn, so I worked kind of all over the city, and just got to experience that. And then after graduating from there, I moved to Miami with my husband, and just kind of burned out on teaching. And so, that’s when I realized that I wasn’t following my path of the intercultural love of globalization– love of like different cultures really, and it’s like, I almost feel like, “How can I help other people? And share what I’ve learned, what am I good at?” And I’m really good at immersing myself in different cultures and fitting in, might need to fit in, but all while retaining my own self-identity.

I realized that was something a lot of people struggle with and I could share, and I can help other people manage their thoughts, manage their minds without going through this really challenging experience of transitioning to a new culture, or changing a new career, or developing your identity or realizing their self-worth, so that’s kind of how life-coaching was born, and specifically intercultural life-coaching, just because I’m in an intercultural marriage, it’s really important to me, diversity and multiculturalism is important to me, so I coach other women who have similar values.

Alice: That’s really interesting, how does your coaching work? So, you said you do it over Zoom?

Jewelle: I do, yes! I coach over Zoom, so I coach anywhere in the world, coach anyone in the world, it’s so much fun, I love it. I spend an hour with my clients each week, and we tackle all the things, everything. So even though I’m an intercultural life coach, I coach on teaming and productivity and stress management and everything because, it all kind of comes together in the end.

Alice: Oh, that’s wonderful. And you just started this business, right?

Jewelle: I did! I started it in May, so I’m starting something new. Google has been my best friend, I Google everything, I’m like, “Google! How do I market? Google! How do I organize working events?”

Alice: I feel like we’re all doing that.

Jewelle: Exactly! Google and YouTube will tell you everything, all of it.

Alice: Yes. Can you talk about some of the differences that you’ve seen between our American culture and the culture you’ve seen while living abroad or maybe just between you and your clients of what different cultural practices look like?

Jewelle: Yes, so, I talk a lot about this in an analogy called “The Cultural Iceberg” so, visualize that there’s an iceberg or you’re like paddling along in the Artic, I’m just going to take you on a journey.

Alice: Okay.

Jewelle: Paddling along in the Artic and you see this iceberg you see the very tip, the majority of icebergs are underneath the water. So you can kind of think about it like culture, when we’re in another culture you see just the tips when you’re there, you see the festivals and you see the look, the different clothing, you see the different language, you see the different architecture, the mannerisms, the food.

So, those are all the things when we think about culture, we generally think those things first. So, really when we get down and we look, “Get out of the kayak!” you’re snorkeling on top of the water and you’re looking and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, there’s a huge iceberg!”

And that’s really what culture is; it’s all those things that we don’t see at the top, it’s like the food, the mannerisms, the clothing as a manifestation of the belief systems, values, the social norms, the sharing history, the way of thinking that are just so much more complex.

And so, even though I lived two years in Costa Rica and was very immersed into a culture, I actually dated someone there for those two years with a Costa Rican or a Tico as we say. I only was really snorkeling on top and diving down and holding my breath and glimpsing that culture and coming back. So, it just takes such a long time to really understand a culture and the complexities and the depth that needs to get to that full iceberg.

Alice: Do you ever think that you can immerse yourself fully in a culture that’s not your own? Or is your coaching about retaining your own cultural identity while being in a different culture, I don’t know, I’m so curious.

Jewelle: I think it takes a long time to really fully understand a culture. And I don’t think you’ll ever– so, my husband has, my husband’s Indian and he’s lived here for 10 years now? In May it’s 10. He’s lived here for 10 years and he has a really good understanding of American culture but I still explain things to him, IR