» “Be confident in finding what's right for you”

“When you find what works for you, you have to stick with it – don't leave it in favor of your comfort zone, even if it's not easy,” replies Irene van der Woude when asked what her life has taught her. In recent years. The native of Dölsach has stepped out of his comfort zone and into the wider world several times since graduating high school – but has never forgotten East Tyrol as his place of well-being.

“After graduating from HLW in Lienz, I wanted to leave,” she smiles. The choice is 'the other side of the world', i.e. Australia or New Zealand. Irene eventually decided to work as an au pair with a family near Brisbane and then Melbourne. A time that had a big impact on her: “Being on my own has definitely made me more independent, you have to make your own decisions – for me it's about listening to my instincts.”

Irene didn't just listen to her gut feeling figuratively, she discovered the topic of nutrition through her Australian host family mother: “I noticed that if I ate more of some things and less of others, I was better.” The positive effects of mindful eating on quality of life led Irene to deepen her interest through reading.

He enrolled in the “Global Nutrition and Health” course in Copenhagen, where he chatted with Dolomitenstadt.at via Skype in his last home interview seven years ago. The young East Tyrolean lived in the Danish capital for almost four years: “I loved it there, it was exciting to study, there was always something going on. “The only time you need a good social network and vitamin D drops is in the winter,” she suggests.

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In her spare time, Irene likes to be outside – in the East Tyrolean mountains or the rolling hills around Graz.

Starting fresh and building a circle of friends far from home takes effort, says Irene, “but it's important to engage in new and unknown things and reach out to people. Once the first step is taken, everything becomes much easier anyway. ” Open-mindedness and curiosity are definitely an advantage when you go out into the big wide world alone: ​​“But even when I meet the people you see now, I never recognize myself, and it's always interesting to talk to them.

It changes your perspective on your own life: “It's incredibly exciting to see what backgrounds people have. It gives you insight into what's going on in other corners of the world and what challenges they're struggling with — personal, family, political or religious.” You often move too much in your own bubble, “It helps you take a step back and put things in perspective. Suddenly you feel so grateful because you realize how well we actually do, even if things don't always go smoothly.”

During her studies, Irene also met her boyfriend, with whom she converted a van into a camper after graduation. “The plan was to travel with the camper across Europe, and maybe even more. We originally wanted to leave Copenhagen,” he explains. However, the pandemic put a damper on both of their plans. It became difficult, and we decided to stay in East Tyrol for a while.”

The timing of a planned European trip with the camper fell through during the pandemic, which is why Irene and her boyfriend were stranded in the unplanned East Tyrol.

“The planned short period ended up being over two years,” Irene looks back with a smile. “I love being in East Tyrol, nature in a special way and being natural,” he enthuses. Her boyfriend and she were working in their parents' business at this time, “but at some point we decided we wanted to live in a big city in our current lives,” explains Irene.

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I love being in East Tyrol, nature is charged in a special way and natural as it really should be.

Irene van der Woude

The choice fell to Gross three months ago, and from there he smiles on the zoom screen to Irene Tyrol during an interview with Dolomites. “Grass is a very nice city, like I used to in Copenhagen, you can reach everything by bike. Culturally there is also a lot to offer, cool concerts, exhibitions, workshops, etc. It is very centrally located and there is no trip around the world to East Tyrol.” Despite the urban character, nature is within reach: “A bit outside the city, you're in the middle of gentle hilly terrain all the same, these aren't the wild East Tyrolean mountains, but they're charming.

As well as spending time in nature, Irene enjoys making pottery, growing vegetables and herbs, and has attended many medicinal herb courses: “I think it's great that you help others with knowledge of medicinal herbs.” She loves meeting new and familiar people and exploring her new home from all angles.

“I'm also still looking for a job,” he explains. Her goal is to work independently as a nutritionist. In particular, intuitive nutrition advice piqued his interest: “It's about a complete change in life, away from food thinking. From my point of view, it makes a lot of sense, after all, changing your eating habits is only possible if it seems personally feasible for you in the long term. This should be completed as soon as possible.

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Irene describes her life as a puzzle with many colorful mosaic pieces, “which at some point come together to form a whole picture”. Her dream, she says, is to use her many hobbies, interests and talents so that “I can inspire others and have a positive impact on people just as the people around me support and encourage me.”

Using your interests and talents, imparting knowledge to inspire others and be a positive influence – that's what Irene wants for the future.

Irene can't say at the moment whether it will happen in Graz, in East Tyrol or in another beautiful part of the world: “Going abroad again would be an option, but somewhere in Europe where the geography is “distance to friends” and the family is manageable and it's not a two-day trip,” she smiles. To East Tyrol The return should match his professional ideas. “I have a feeling that many things are developing in a positive direction. Young people are always coming back to East Tyrol, bringing new ideas with them, and sometimes I am one of them,” he laughs.

She tries not to have too many expectations and plans, “because if it doesn't turn out the way you envision it, it drags you down,” Irene says from experience. “On social media you see highlights that are prominently displayed. Rarely is it shown that a part of life falls on your face and somehow gets back up again. It's important to be true to yourself and believe that “you'll find what works for you and stick with it.”


Between 2014 and 2016, artist Linda Steiner and the editorial team of Dolomitienstadt asked more than a hundred students with East Tyrolean roots about their future plans and dreams. We called the interview series “Homesick”. Years later, we're inviting interviewees back for the second season of Homeway 2.0. What happened after that during this particularly exciting phase of life?

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