Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's been five years




Well, to be exact, as of today it's been 4 years, 7 months and 3 days since I moved to France in September 2009. But that (plus six weeks or so) is going to have to do. I'm not going to make it to that magical 5 year mark where you can apply for French citizenship (I wasn't 100% sold on that anyway), because it's time to say au revoir France...

...and bonjour Belgium! Hello frites, yummy chocolate and endless rain (apparently) and adding a sixth country to the list of places I've lived. As of mid-June some time, I'll be on the move again (sigh), this time for hopefully a bit of a longer run in the same place - Brussels. My last move, a mere eight months ago, was so traumatic that I had zero interest in moving again any time soon (despite hating my apartment and the mega-commute), but a fantastic opportunity came up (hence my January trip to Brussels) which was way too good to say no to.

I had more-or-less settled in to commuting for around 1.5 hours each way, and my work for the first few months of the year was a lot more interesting (I'm back to deathly boredom now), but the new job offers so much more financially, in lifestyle terms and (hopefully) in the kind of work I'll be doing. Ever since I've known I'm moving, it's been more and more of a drag when the alarm goes off at 5.45 every day and when I stumble back in my front door at 8.30 pm. After working 40-hour weeks with 15 hours' commuting time, 38 hours plus about 5 hours' commute a week will be a breeze! As well as being character-forming, having to go through tough times of whatever description also helps you to appreciate any upturn in fortune.

Plus the payrise means I could shop around for somewhere I really wanted to live. Absolute non-negotiables: a balcony/terrace/garden and a bathtub. I've been dreaming for years of having some kind of outdoor space, and having a bath (with book, music and glass of wine) is one of my absolute favourite things to do whenever I'm in a hotel or wherever. I never quite had the budget to find exactly what I wanted before, so this time I didn't want to compromise. Jules and I spent last weekend in Brussels, and I've lined one up that ticks all the boxes, and is in what seems to be the perfect neighbourhood, balancing distance from work and the city, amenities, quietness etc. Happy days!

Talking of Jules (who reads the blog, so this is a bit weird), that's the part that's obviously not so great. I was waiting to hear back about the job before we met, and after a few good dates I kind of rolled my eyes and thought "I bet I'll get the job now, that'd be typical". It's almost a cliché that you meet someone when you're not looking (I wasn't - despite it being online, I had taken my photos down, which is basically man-repellent) or when circumstances are going to make things awkward. Sure enough, I got the news after we'd been dating for a few weeks, just before the trip to Cologne. I had planned on waiting until afterwards to tell him, so as not to spoil the weekend, but in the car conversation turned to my job (level of interest therein) and what my long-term plans were, and by the time we got to the hotel I was wracked with guilt and had to break it to him.

He took it very calmly. He's a calm guy, so that's not a big surprise, but after only going out for a few weeks, it would have been reasonable on his part to decide he wasn't into the prospect of a long-distance thing and that it was easier to pull the plug there and then. Which would have been a tad awkward stuck together in Cologne. But, happily, we decided to see how things went over the next 2 1/2 months or so until I left, and then... Brussels isn't that far from Luxembourg, really. It's still only been two months, but things are going well, so hopefully it'll be okay. I think the fact that we already don't live in the same city will help the transition, although I'll miss being able to catch up in the week for a drink after work.

So, I'm super excited! The stress is starting to kick in a little bit now too. It should be much less chaotic than last time (I can hire professional movers for starters), but with the added complications of being an international move to worry about. Who knows how things work in Belgium? And, naturally, I already have trips to Mallorca and Tours lined up for the end of May/beginning of June to suck money out of my bank account and time out of my schedule, but hey, there are worse problems!

I'm a bit sorry that, mostly due to those long hours, I haven't really got to know Metz at all. The last eight months have flown by at warp speed, I swear. The bi-country work/home balance is difficult to maintain: very hard to make friends in Metz, where I was never home, and I'd be tired at the end of the day in Luxembourg and just have to rush off to the train anyway. I still have a little time (moving formalities and holidays notwithstanding) to tick a couple of things like the Pompidou Metz off the list, and I'll be coming back to Luxembourg to see Jules, so all is not lost.

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the upcoming move to Brussels! And fingers crossed for Jules and you. I was wondering about the status of your relationship when I read the Cologne post but didn't want to pry. I wish you lots of energy during the next couple of months. Hopefully, the perfect apartment with a balcony/terrace/garden and bathtub is waiting for you.

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    1. Thanks! I think I've found the place, just sewing things up with the agent :)

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  2. Congrats again, Gwan! It sounds like you got a really good thing lined up for you! We're only about an hours drive from Brussels (less by Thalys), so we'll have to come see you once you're settled in. And if you ever want to come to Lille!

    That's great that Jules is willing to give the long distance thing a chance. And you're right, they're not too far from each other.

    Oh! My former coloc's sister has been living in Brussels for a year now (maybe 2?). If you need some questions answered/guidance/whatever, I can see if she can help!

    -Shannon

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    1. Thanks Shannon! It's been a long time since I've been to Lille, I'd definitely be up for a visit some time (and vice versa).

      Cool, probably areas like the best cellphone/internet/insurance/electricity providers etc. are what I'm wondering most about right now, it seems harder to get information (without a lot of trawling through the internet) on those areas than on general administrative things.

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    2. Okay! She's on holidays in Greece at the moment, but I'll shoot her a message when she's back :-)

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  3. Well, your lovely blogger friends TOLD you your life would look up once you turned 30, didn't they!!! Whoop! - so happy for you, love. Mum xxx

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    1. The 30 ship sailed quite a while ago! Thanks Mum xx

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    2. Haa that's what I was thinking, hold on did gwan just turn 30? Have I been in some kind of space-time continuum? x

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    3. I wish, let's all agree to stay in it :)

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  4. This is great! Congratulations!

    Yes, moving is a pain, especially as much as you’ve had to. Sounds very worth it this time, though.

    A man who is willing to make an effort = a man worth trying something with.

    Happy for you!

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    1. Thanks, I'm definitely optimistic. And he's a good guy :)

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  5. Congratulations on your move!

    Brussels and Belgium have always been places I could see myself living in. I like the mix between the north and the south - you can find food from France and the Netherlands and you can learn and speak both French and Dutch.

    Is this move for a permanent job?

    Stay tuned for my own announcement.

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    1. Yeah, I remember the first time I went there in 2007 thinking it didn't seem a bad place to live. I really liked exploring some of the suburbs this weekend too. It felt very different from the touristy centre I've stuck to in the past, definitely more of a homely feel. It's not permanent (yet), but the initial contract is for several years, so there's a good amount of stability.

      Ooh, I'm excited to see what you have coming up!

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  6. Congratulations on the new job! And I've never fallen in love with Brussels ( I've only ever been on wet days in winter and I don't like beer!) but everyone I know who has ever lived in Belgium has really, really liked it.

    Also very excited to hear about Jules - I too was wondering! I'm so glad you've decided to give it a go and it's true that it's really not such a long distance at all.

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    1. I've been a few times, but it really did seem different being in the suburbs this last time - we didn't go into the city centre at all, and it has a really different feel away from the tourist areas. I'm optimistic I'll like it!

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  7. Congratulations!! The Metz/Luxembourg life is a hard one, and it's only worth it if you love your work and/or the life you come home to. There are tons of trains from Luxembourg to Brussels. Speaking of trains, I think I saw you twice this week at the Luxembourg station, but from behind, and my pregnant body just couldn't move fast enough to catch up, lol. Did you have a little rolling suitcase Wednesday morning? (I feel creepy, haha.)

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    1. Ha ha, yep I did! I was staying over with Jules for the holiday. I'll have to keep an eye out for a pregnant lady in future ;) I'm sorry we've only caught up the once, like I said the time has really flown by, and I know recently you've had more important things to keep you busy!

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  8. Congrats! So happy for you! Brussels would be a cool place to live - though I do have to say every single time I've been there it was cold and rainy, even in June. But it's in a good location for travelling and with all the Belgian French accents and Flemish and German nearby... I'm a tad jealous! Hope you'll get used to septante and nonante quickly. Their numbers make so much more sense (except keeping quatre-vingts is a bit odd...)

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    1. Thanks! Arrgh, everyone keeps saying that, but I actually haven't really had the 'cold, rainy' experience. I've been twice in January too, but I don't remember it being like that. I think my main issue in the past was that I think "deux euros" sounds like "douze euros" in a Belgian accent, but I suppose I should normally have an idea if I'm meant to be forking over 2 or 12€ :)

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