Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Why Luxembourg?

I did mention in my 'about' section that part of this blog is to cover my road to improving my French (& hopefully in the future other language skills). And as DP and I have started to work on this I thought now would be a good time to cover where I am and what we're doing...

I met DP in 2003 and we went on holiday to different countries, speaking different languages. We discussed our hopes and plans for the future, including that we'd like to live abroad. We got married and had IP. I had mentioned I wasn't thrilled with returning to work the way I had previously with IP but I felt it was the best thing for all of us, in fact, it was just various issues coming up.

Then one day (and it would have been good if I'd made a note of the date in hindsight) DP rang me and said 'is it ok if I apply for a job in Luxembourg?' He had been mentioning various jobs abroad for about a month so it wasn't a sudden, out of the blue question and we had already discussed that we'd both like to live abroad, as I say. So my response was 'why are you even asking me, go ahead and apply and then we'll discuss it'. This may seem crazy to a lot of people (certainly 'why Luxembourg!?' was many people's response when I told them we were moving) but my parents lived in Holland for a year before I was born and we have travelled all over the place so the idea was excitingly scary. We/I were also very lucky that DP's job arranged most of the moving. I think if I'd had to pack everything and arrange everything I may have felt differently!

Anyway, DP applied for a few jobs. He told me about them. We discussed and argued about various jobs (maternity cover positions, was it a good idea or not?). Then he got an interview. I think this was around April. I have a feeling it was after that we didn't hear anything for months. We later learnt that there had been various changes of position within the department he'd be going to, but we didn't know that and were just in a state of wait and see. I think it was the week of IP's birthday that DP finally heard he'd got a second interview and they said if he was offered the job they wanted him fast. I can't remember how soon after that he was offered the job, I know I was frustrated as I am impatient. Then suddenly he was offered the job, had accepted it and was discussing final details!

At this point I asked if we could go to Luxembourg for a short visit, maybe a weekend, as the only time I'd been was driving through with my parents at about 10 years old. DP wasn't keen at first because he thought we'd be moving very soon but agreed eventually. Luckily I did like the country and was fine with moving. We then came for a 'previsit' the week of the 1st August and viewed 8 apartments. DP started his new job on 1st August so IP and I had 3 days to entertain ourselves.What we also hadn't realised was that everything was closed in the summer. I still managed. We chose an apartment - 2 bedrooms, airy and were ok with us having a cat. The biggest thing I realised was that although the country was Luxembourg, we didn't need to speak Luxembourgish, French or German to get by. It helped to speak a bit of French on a daily basis but that was it.

So we went home, DP then returned back to work for a few weeks (this time is a bit hazy now) and IP and I said goodbye to people. Then DP arranged that we'd move out around the 31st August. We had arranged to rent our house out in the UK and I was going to 'deal' with it, as I would be at home, certainly initially. Also through DP's company we got language lessons paid for...

So we have been here nearly a year and have been taking French lessons in most of that time. IP goes to a French creche that is nearby. And now we're here we love it so much we hope to stay here longer term so our children can learn languages in the school system here. It's a private healthcare system where the government refunds 80% and then DP has an insurance scheme at work that covers the remainder so we get the best of both worlds in that respect and it's why we chose to have another child here. I was very nervous initially of that side, whether I'd have to speak French at medical appointments, etc. Then I took IP to the Doctor in our first week (not something I normally do!) and it was fine. The biggest thing is getting recommendations So IP sees a pedatrician here and I had to get a couple of recommendations first. I see a Gynocologist and what was simple in the UK isn't quite so simple here. Having said that, if things go wrong then it's very good. 

Anyway, I digress. I found out the other day that the Doctor's receptionist speaks 5 languages! In general we just feel certain things within this country are a lot more to our way of thinking. 

I have just realised I haven't explained exactly how the languages work, etc (this started off as 1 post on a subject and is now 2 posts on 2 subjects)...

So... Just to clear up a few things that have come up. Luxembourg is a country. It is small and borders Germany, France and Belgium (or they border it). Belgium is 20 minutes drive away from us. It's capital city is Luxembourg city. Where we live. Northern Luxembourg I gather is very sparse and I don't think I've ever actually been.

The language is Luxembourgish, which is made of various components, including French and German. A friend described it as 'Geordie German' - German with a different accent. It's spoken in the schools but not everywhere. So assuming we are still here in a few years time, IP will learn Luxembourgish at school. Then the language spoken to 'get the bus' etc is French. When we have repair people come round, they generally speak German. 

So as I spoke a little French, I am building on that. Then I will learn German and finally Luxembourgish. I met a German lady within a few months of living here who said she learnt English at school and most of the German's I have met speak fluent English. So not speaking German hasn't been an issue so far. I would have put IP into a Luxembourgish creche but I couldn't find one locally so we decided a French creche was the next best option. 

Just a final note on Luxembourgish: what we do know is that 'good morning' is 'Moien', 'goodbye' is 'Adi' and now we know that 'thank you' is 'Merci'. Hence I said before that it's a mixture of components. I next want to learn 'sorry' or something similar and then I'll wait for anything else.

What I have also learnt is I hope to take IP to a playgroup in September that is based on Luxembourgish so she can learn but also so I can. Then when she is 3 years old she can start 'Pre Cos' which is Luxembourgish 'pre school' I suppose. 

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