Friday, October 06, 2006

How my ex-pat experiences are different than most other woman's in Belgium:

I run across a lot of Belgian ex-pat blogs, primarily from women living in Belgium. Everyone that I read they all share similarities with each other, but not with my own life. Here are some differences:

* I don't live in Brussels. I don't even live in the outskirts of Brussels. I don't live anywhere near the Brussels region of the country.

* I live in west Flanders.

* I learn Dutch, not French.

* I am not a trailing spouse.

* I have worked here. I am now an unemployed foreigner. I'm looking for work.

* looking for work is harder than just not being able to work from being a trailing spouse because I NEED to work. And Belgians don't have equal opportunity laws like in America. I don't get money from the government so the government doesn't want to help me find a job and the normal employers don't want to hire a foreigner.

* that's real life. That's not vacationing.

* I don't have a husband that gets paid by an American company. I don't have a husband.

* my life does not revolve around jaunts to Spain, Italy, Ireland, Poland because my husband has work to do there.

*my life revolves around trying to make ends meet with one income and my insanely high American school bills that Belgian pay checks don't figure into their pay allowance.

* I don't attend clubs or meetings

* all my friends are Belgians which makes meeting and keeping friends hard. I don't surround myself with only Americans

*in fact the only Americans I DID know lived in gent and I hardly saw them anyway

personally, I feel if you only surround yourself with people like you and don't get down to the knitty gritty of real, everyday life, then you're only pretending. There's nothing amazing about an American who went to Brussels to be with other Americans in Brussels and go around having vacations 100 times a year.

or maybe I'm just jealous I don't get to go to all those places.

but really, that's not life abroad, that's partying abroad.

1 comment:

V-Grrrl said...

You need to read Di at Wandering Woman. She's a kiwi (New Zealander), lives in Antwerp, and only recently married her long-time partner. She's studying Dutch, has been through bureaucratic hell to get all her papers in order. She has suffered real bouts of despair and financial stress trying to become employed. You can find her link on my blogroll. (I can't remember her address off the top of my head.)