Fiona: Far Far Away
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Luxembourg, etc.
I am originally British (although you’d not guess it from my accent) but the last ten years I’ve been moving around living in Scotland, California, South Africa, Belgium and now I’ve landed for now in Luxembourg!
I moved here with my Danish husband in December 2011 for his work. I have a background working for NGOs, but here decided to try something new and have set up a small business as a wedding and events planner. I love how varied the work is and how many people I get to meet!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve always written as a way of working out my thoughts and feelings about what I’m experiencing. I’m an external processor, and to prevent my poor husband having to listen to me analyse every minute of my day, I blog!
My blog covers everything from my daily life, my work, my faith, my attempts to be brave (my “one word” for 2012) and relative frequent photos of my baking just to make my readers hungry… I love how many connections I have made through my blog – both online and in “real life”.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I just finished a 31 days series on Embracing Expat Life which was such fun to write. You can find the overview of the series here.
Brave is daring to speak – a little of what learning a language is teaching me.
At three months – reflecting on my first few months here. When it was still hard but I wanted to remember that this is an adventure.
Giving my full attention – on one of my favourite books and why it inspires me to live with my eyes wide open.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Luxembourg differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I’ve not lived in England in ten years, so it feels strange to describe it as “home” now. Every new place is different in bigger and more subtle ways, but I LOVE those differences. I think the hardest part of moving is always the settling in period – it can be intensely lonely and confusing. Having gone through it many times now, I try to always proactively include newcomers I meet.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Luxembourg? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I do wish my languages had been better. Although I had a basic understanding of German from school and French from living in Brussels, I had also met my husband while I lived there and then focused on learning Danish (it’s important to be able to communicate with your in-laws!). Even just eight months of regular lessons here has made a huge difference to how confident and settled I feel.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Let’s just say buttermilk on cereal is not a great taste. I learned the right translations quickly after that…
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Luxembourg?
- Live as if you’ll be here forever. Yes, it might make it harder to leave eventually, but only because you have great friends, great memories – you’ll not regret this one.
- Learn the language. No really, learn. the. language. We all agree it’s important but the difference it can make is seriously huge. It’s not impossible, even if you think you “suck at languages”. And also, if you don’t you’re just being an arrogant arse.
- Be patient. It takes time to adjust, to settle, to find your place. Paulo Coelho says that patience is important because it makes us pay attention. You can learn so much in the process. And one day you may suddenly realise you feel at home here.
How is the expat community in Luxembourg? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is massive here so it is really not hard to find people to hang out with – it’s almost harder to meet Luxembourgers. We were lucky and found some fantastic friends pretty fast. But don’t give up if you don’t straight away – keep saying yes to invitations, keep meeting people. You’ll find your people.
How would you summarize your expat life in Luxembourg in a single, catchy sentence?
A huge exciting leap out of my comfort zone into a multicultural landlocked country!