Moving here to be with my husband is a whole new adventure for me. Coming from a different culture, another language and weather that is tropical. I have been at least trained now to be he here, I can say that I am now home.
It is not only the geographical state of Belgium you need to understand. So may factors why there are so many people complaining about the country. To be honest, it is workable with a lot of roundabouts, ways of understanding why and how the country works.
At first, it is very hard to understand everything. When I saw everything, mostly all of the things here. How the system of governance works, languages, culture, Belgian and non-Belgian and the openness of the country for so many nationalities. There are limitations and also ways of making things happened here. I tried to see things now as an opportunity rather than obstacles.
The Language and how we are really one but divided
The Wallonie and Brussels speak French. The Flanders speak Vlaams which they claim not Dutch/ Nederlands. Some small parts speak German. That is a very complicated start of the story. I was able to learn French and Dutch the story of how you can read here Learning Languages. And English is the fourth unofficial language of Belgium. Where all people from across the world meet in the heart of Europe who doesn’t speak the other 3 official languages can.
I started with my low-quality French until school and social immission changed the entire game. I am now very confident with my French
Learned Dutch at school, social formations, nursing in high school of which is not a job for me.
Aside from that living in the Flanders side gave me so many opportunities to be socially integrated with their offers such us Inburgering, learning Vlaams through their programs in CVO Meise-Jette. Where I meet people that became life tile friends, some acquaintances, mostly the valuable ones stay.
After having all these social immersion that I can totally live alone in the sense of not having the help of my husband. He is my motivator and my number one example. He is well oriented, Belgian way with the touch of the good Philippine culture he has learned. When you find the balance everything will be in harmony.
Finally, I am working permanently in an English speaking office. Voila!
Parenting and Independent Family Life
Okay, so the number one adjustment I had is not having my parents with me. No more sisters to ask for help around me. Married life seriously too leaving and cleaving principle that you and your husband will live alone, manage everything on your own.
It is not easy, but doable. When Laia came in, parenting, finding the career work, no nanny, no maid life is a real challenge until you know how things works here:
- Daycare institute that we call here Creche, will make parents leave their child starting 3 months to continue their life, working and providing for the family without the need of hiring a private nanny. These are regulated establishments that keep baby and care for them while Mom and Dad work for the day. I managed to have it for free for a year and a half for the government pays for it as I go study a formation.
- Do it yourself. Everything, labour can be really expensive. So kitchen, electrical repairs, cleaning the hallway, big windows. We do everything. We do not wish to give away our hard-earned money to ask someone and clean our little home. We are proud that we manage to do everything alone together. Not only that I thought I will not like ironing any longer. So, okay at first it eats all your time. In the end, I learned to batch them and do what I need to do for the week.
- Batch cooking is life. We make sure that everyone is eating well, healthy and on time. Laia eats the warm meal at school, where they have a balanced diet, fruits, we are at ease and sure that she is eating well for the day. Also, at night she is eating soup, bread plus her milk before bedtime.
Enjoyed parenting to the worst situation and great. Laia is now three and she is a happy child, healthy and smart. Nothing to compare with other child for she has her own character to develop and we love her the way she is.
Our relationship as husband and wife is not perfect. However, we keep growing together each day perfect for each other.
We need less than more than what we think we do
Thought I’d be needing so many things to help me live my life. Our home is a happy place. I am proud to say that we have the minimum things we need and our life in our little home is enough for us three. We also try to be minimalist, functional with everything. Kitchen is a happy healthy wait of living where I can improve my cooking, eating habits. Our living room is just right. I thought before, moving in a first world country is having everything I want. I have learned that it is having to choose what you really need in this lifetime. Choosing what is best for your family and parenting needs. Thinking about how your child best learns with toys, books and all other things she may have. Plus, sharing is the key. What you don’t need is the key to learn how to share.
Work wise, I thought if I earn some money then I will be shopping regularly. I am proud and contented to share that my purchasing habits became more intentional as I progress becoming simple. Both of us, benefits to this progress of appreciating simple things in life without so many complications of buying so much stuff that we don’t need. I can say, we are still a working progress which I like because it keeps us from learning.
Friends to guide us, love us and accept us for being us. Apparently, I need more than less every day. I only need the valuable ones who share the same values as I am and my husband. People will remain loyal, loving and kind-those who would like to. People will invest time with you and those are the ones you have to share love, life with. Friends who happily became your family.
Family that are busy with their lives but still you know they are there for you. There are so many life complications but life will always surprise you with little reunions and unique moments to share with one another. Life is Belgium is fast, busy and occupied. I learned myself how to slow down my own pace.
My other family who are in the Philippines, they are only far by map but they stay in my heart. Along with all these learnings are have they are the base of my reason to start, root of where I came from.
In total, life is a balance. Whether you are abroad expat, explorer, traveler and staying to your own country of origin. It all boil down on how you keep yourself learning and discovering your inner you each day of your life.
Appreciate each day, keep doing what makes you happy. Each day is always another chance, keep your faith, keep it strong.
I would love to live in a different country some day! (I’m in the US.) That would be such an amazing experience.
Hi Jen, it was a total shocker for me in the beginning but it is nice now, this is now my home. Thank you for reading!
I love this! I can relate to doing the labor yourself. We’ve been slowly doing renovations to our home, and I can’t stand the thought of paying others so much money to do what we are capable of, even if it means taking longer as we squeeze it in around our daily schedules.
I got sick and went super tired in the beginning, thank God held me up together.
I love your outlook and perspective of moving to a new country. My husband is British and has asked me for years to move to Scotland, but I have never taken the leap. It is hard to be away from family and I couldn’t imagine not speaking the language. I enjoyed reading your positive take on living in another country.
Scotland is beautiful, I would like to move there, peaceful and nice raising children. You should maybe discover one day and decide, yay!
Kudos to you for doing this. I couldn’t imagine trying to integrate into a new life somewhere else.
This is so interesting! And what a valuable experience for your family!