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Patricia Kalmeijer - Atlanta, Georgia

Story published in August 2016  | Interviews conducted in July 2015

Patricia Kalmeijer is a Realtor and Relocation Specialist from Leuven. Both her parents were French speaking doctors. She lived ten years in the United Kingdom prior to moving to Atlanta in 2005 with her husband and four – at the time – teenagers. She is the main organizer behind beATL, an informal Belgian Club in Atlanta.

SignMyCar! Belgians Living in the US. Patricia Kalmeijer. Atlanta.
SignMyCar! Belgians Living in the US. Patricia Kalmeijer. Atlanta.
Southern England

Patricia lived in England from 1995 to 2005 where the family settled down in Southern England. As a mother of four children, Patricia can tell you that raising a family abroad is no quiet stroll. “You have to be very firm about maintaining your culture at home: speaking French and Dutch instead of English; sitting at the table for meals instead of in front of the TV. This was even truer after we moved to the United States in the summer of 2005.”

 

Moving with very young children to England was a very rich and wonderful experience. During that time, Patricia worked as an After-school French Teacher, Relocation Specialist, and managed tennis clubs, and later on started her own business.. Her time in England has built a foundation for who she is now.  ‘The United States is where our lives are now. My children and grandchildren are here. My future is here. But I am still so much in love with England…. I miss the landscapes, the vibe, the humor, the accent and the walks breathing the pure air of Southern England.”

A day in the life of a Realtor Patricia started working as a Realtor in 2007 under the umbrella of Harry Norman, Realtors. “Purchasing and/or selling a house and moving with your family can be very stressful and challenging: I have tasted it myself a few times. I love helping people and that I can do in the real estate world. All I want is a smile on my client’s face when he drives back home from work or think about his house’. I followed Patricia through a day in her life. Aside from the usual emails, phone calls and paperwork, her days are paved with unexpected responsibilities. You wouldn’t realize that one of her challenges during the summer is fighting with Georgian clay. Inserting those ‘for sale’ signs into the ground is almost impossible. Patricia also feels apprehensive whenever a listing is equipped with a security system. “You can only guess where the control panels are and you never know how long you have until the alarm is triggered’. Paying attention to details is very important in her job: watering plants, checking the inside temperature controls, checking on repairs. Every detail matters. "In the case of this specific listing, visitors were scared of the empty aquarium. They thought it was a snake tank. So I put a few post it notes on the terrarium to clear the air. What I love the most about my job is that every client brings a new experience, every transaction is different.'
The birth of beATL Patricia started beATL [bētl – pronounce it beetle] right after the 2014 Soccer World Cup. “After seeing so many Belgian supporters reunited to cheer on our national team, there was no doubt in my mind that our community was in an urgent need of a resurgence. And so beATL was born with its unique and informal format. It is mainly a blog informing the Belgian community in and around Atlanta about Belgian related events. But it also organizes coffees and lunches, conferences, exhibits, movies, country or city walks, concerts, guided tours. beATL celebrates Belgian holidays and traditions. They organized a party for the Belgian Independence Day during my visit and I got to meet lots of Belgian people living in Atlanta.
A woman of passions Patricia is constantly finding new challenges and hobbies. Early April 2015, Patricia started with Geocaching to explore the city and get out of the house no matter the weather. She has discovered cool finds that she sometimes shared on one of her blogs. Her goal was to find 1,000 caches by December 31st. One day, she was so hooked into the game that she found 21 caches! With the help of her husband she created some caches and “doigté” was getting the final touches when I visited. You will see her also with a crochet in hand or playing with her Cricut, creating iron-on for t-shirts or making something for the house.

She is also passionate about writing, discovering new places, photography and cooking. Writing helps her connect with her creativity and others. She writes several blogs on various topics like recipes, family, real estate, Atlanta, ... Patricia has the gift to improvise any meals and they turn out very yummy; a very useful talent with four children. The joke is that she couldn’t cook at all and for her 21st birthday received a very first present from her future husband a red apron with a wooden spoon. “When I opened his present, I was so disappointed. But now, thirty years later I still have it and use it every day! It symbolizes so many things and reminds me of dear memories”.

She is also very much in love with her two canines: Fitch the Jack Russell and Haggis, her adorable mutt that she rescued.

August 2016 Update Patricia managed to find her 1,000th caches on December 31st. She hit “doigté” in the perfect spot but had to remove it due to the park regulations. Since the beginning of the year, Patricia has been focusing her energy on her ‘fictional’ biography about her mother, one of the first female doctors who graduated as a specialist from the Université Catholique de Louvain and worked all her life. She also started her first novel in May: “I hope to have it done by the end of the year but it will be tough to find a publisher’. Addicted to the fabulous Coca-Cola (the real one) for many years, she drunk her last drop on May 31st and is since then is only drinking water... a premiere for someone like her. Patricia is also about to become a proud grand-mama for the third time.
Other Belgians living Georgia SignMyCar! Belgians Living in the US. Viviane Hens. Atlanta. Support SignMyCar!

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