My Year Abroad Diary: Hello from Belgium!

Dag! Bonjour! Last night I arrived in Belgium so I thought it was time for a first post.

I arrived in Belgium at around 4pm yesterday, but by the time we got to their house it was nearly 7pm. I met the kids, Oscar and Leonie, who are both utterly adorable, had a bite to eat, unpacked and hit the sack. I woke up this morning relatively early to help get the kids ready for school – not that they needed any help, but it was great to see Oscar’s school which I’ll be picking him up from later today. For now, I’m sat around on their outdoor sofa (yes, it’s actually a thing!) reading, blogging and drinking coffee (they have an amazing coffee machine!) – I feel like I could get used to this!

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It’s not all easy though, living with people you’ve just met and who speak a totally different language to you is pretty intense. My brain feels like it’s constantly working on overtime – especially because I’m switching between Dutch and French. The deal is that I speak French to the kids and Dutch with the parents, but in reality I’m speaking a lot more Dutch than French because the parents have been around a lot and they’ve been speaking Dutch to the kids.

Before I arrived in Belgium, I thought Belgian accents were great and the accent is still really lovely to listen to, but it’s crazy difficult to understand because it seems less annunciated. The words seem to all be merging into each other. Half the time I have no idea what people are saying, especially the kids who speak incredibly rapidly. I’m hoping it’ll get easier, well, it can’t get harder can it?

The family, house and area are all lovely, and I think I’m going to be happy here. I think I need a bit more time to settle in though, at the moment I feel like I’m being incredibly quiet and shy – which isn’t really me at all! I guess it’s natural though.

If you fancy praying for me, please pray that I’m able to feel integrated in the family and that I can be a blessing to them!

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My Year Abroad Diary – One Week to Go!

Year Abroad is here. The adventure which once seemed so far away has arrived. I’m feeling all the emotions ever created in this really sudden run up to the start.

I guess I should tell you where I’m going… Well first of all this summer I’m off to Dutch-speaking Belgium to au pair for a bilingual Dutch/French-speaking family. From what I’ve seen the family seem lovely, the kids seem adorable and the house and area look beautiful! I’m so excited to be their au pair, it’s such a wonderful opportunity and I can’t wait to meet them, but the dual language thing scares me. Considering I study three languages I should be okay at switching from one to the other, but using them almost side-by-side seems like a bit of a challenge! Also I’m scared of being lonely, how do you go about meeting people? I’ve spent my entire life in the education system where you kind of have in-built friends, so suddenly being launched into a situation without that network is a tad unsettling… And on top of that, as a Christian having the strong support of my church family has always been really important to me, and living with two Christians who challenge and encourage me in following Christ this past year has been such a huge blessing that I don’t know what I’ll do without them!

After my two months in Belgium I have a bit of a break and some breathing room in England before going off to Köln in Germany for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course. Then it’s time to head down south to Baden-Württemburg to start work as language teaching assistant in a school! I’ll be there until the end of February when I’ll move to France where I’m hoping to find a job to do with media/journalism/publicity. Ooh la la!

Anyway that’s all of my year abroad ramblings for now, if anyone who reads this has any great tips on living abroad etc, please pass them my way! I will be forever indebted to you!