Are you considering moving abroad with your German language skills? There are so many exciting European cities with a high demand for German speakers. Living outside of your country is an exciting and life-changing experience and although it may take some courage and organisation, it’s 100% worth it. Not only does it make you even more employable, but you will also adopt some key life skills along the way.
To round off our German week, we interviewed Jennifer, a multilingual expat from Cologne, who has been living in Belgium for the past 4 years. Let’s hear about her experiences as an expat in Belgium...
Why did you move to study outside of Germany?
Jennifer: I wanted to study abroad in a French-speaking country, close to Germany and thus Belgium was just the perfect choice! I studied for my Masters in Liège for 2 years and since then I've been working in Brussels, and am currently in the asset management sector as a Marketing Executive.
How easy or hard was it to find a job?
Jennifer: I finished my studies in September 2017 and started at my first job in January 2018. It was quite difficult because my Dutch level was ‘only’ B1 which is sometimes not enough in Brussels. So I started in the Business Support sector to gain some experience, although I would have preferred Marketing and Communications.
Did you move there alone?
Jennifer: In Liège, I moved alone, in Brussels, I moved in with my partner.
What languages do you speak?
Jennifer: German, French, Italian, English, Dutch, Spanish
How did you find the transition? Did you settle in easily?
Jennifer: The transition was easier than I thought since Belgians are very welcoming and friendly. But at university, it was a bit more difficult to make Belgian friends. It was easier to make international friends and later I had a few Belgian friends. But in Brussels, it was easier and I found Belgian friends faster.
Have you met many international people whilst living abroad or have you mainly made friends with other German expats?
Jennifer: I have made friends mainly with other internationals: Greeks, Spanish, Italians, Jordanian, Australian
What is the best advice you would give to other German expats moving abroad?
Jennifer: Do not hesitate to make Belgian friends even if it seems difficult. Go to conversation evenings where you can practice the language. Inform yourself about cultural events - it’s a good way to meet people.
How does the cost of living in Belgium compare to back in Germany?
Jennifer: The rent is higher and the prices in the supermarket, too.
What do you enjoy the most about living in Belgium and what do you least enjoy?
Jennifer: I really enjoy the open-mindedness of the people here, the huge amount of cultural events. I love the fact that this country has 3 official languages and that you speak not only French and Dutch in Brussels but also a lot of other languages thanks to the internationals. I do not appreciate the higher living cost.
What do you miss about Germany the most?
Jennifer: I miss my family, I miss speaking German, the lower living costs and Reibekuchen.
Can you provide recommendations for blogs/websites/apps for other german expats to use?
Jennifer: I only used facebook pages in French for apartments/rooms or the events page on facebook and the Brussels cultural agenda.
Any further comments?
Jennifer: If you have the opportunity to live abroad for some time: do it! You won’t regret it.
We hope Jennifer's experiences have inspired you to make that move abroad and to embrace new countries and cultures. As we mentioned there are so many countries looking for German-speaking candidates. Check out the offers on our job board today!
Nov 15, 2019 by Charlotte
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