British Expat Interview With Fiona - From Belgium to Luxembourg

Published: 26 Jan at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Luxembourg
Fiona Lynne is a British event planner, living in Luxembourg with her Danish husband. Already in her fourth expat country, she's realised that "home" is a fluid concept, and her she believes in living somewhere as if you'll stay forever. She will take turkish delight over chocolate any day, and is trying to be brave. She writes about all that and a bit more at her blog Fiona Lynne - Far Far Away (see listing here)

Meet Fiona - British expat in Luxembourg
Meet Fiona - British expat in Luxembourg

Here's the interview with Fiona...

Where are you originally from?
I originally hail from Oxfordshire in the UK, but I've not lived in England for ten years now. In the meantime I've lived in South Africa, Scotland, California, Belgium and now finally Luxembourg!

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently living in Luxembourg, in the capital.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved here with my husband in December 2011. We have no idea how long we'll be here! Maybe another year, maybe five, maybe more! We say that we'll stay here as long as it makes sense. Right now it feels like home, so we're in no rush to get to the next place.

Why did you move and what do you do?
We moved for my husband's job. About six months after we arrived I set up my own business as a wedding and events planner. It's been a huge learning curve to work for myself but I am really enjoying the challenge,

Did you bring family with you?
I moved with my husband so I guess I am officially a "trailing spouse"! We met and married while we were both living in Brussels, so this is the first of my four expat moves that has been with someone else. In many ways it's been wonderful to do the whole "new-in-town" thing with someone else, although it never completely took away the initial loneliness of not having any friends here. Now we love exploring this new country together.

The beautiful Vianden castle in the north of Luxembourg
The beautiful Vianden castle in the north of Luxembourg
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
This was my fourth international move, so in many ways I was as well prepared as I could have been. But there are still surprises and new culture shocks each time. I have always loved travelling and discovering new cultures though, so this has felt more like an adventure than a challenge.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I have made some fantastic friends here! Luxembourg City is about 50% foreigners, so there are a lot of people who understand what it's like to be new and extend a warm welcome to you when you arrive. As I wasn't working at first, I made an effort to get out a lot - socialise at different events or organisations, and volunteer my time for different events. The downside of there being so many expats here is that it can be quite difficult to meet locals. But the number of Luxembourgers I know is growing every week!

Buergbrennen, the day we chase away winter by lighting fires all over the country!
Buergbrennen, the day we chase away winter by lighting fires all over the country!
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Luxembourg is a lovely little country, full of things to discover and explore. It doesn't have the size or energy of Paris or London, but it makes up for that in charm and warmth. The countryside is always just on your doorstep with fantastic walks and cycle paths, and there are enough fancy restaurants to keep you the biggest gourmet busy for a while!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the chance to meet and be friends with people from all over the world. And I love that you can live in the city centre with everything that brings, but then be in the middle of a forest within ten minutes!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
After ten years away from home I've lost track! Luxembourg is quite an expensive country to live in compared with its neighbours. Housing was the biggest jump for us. But the upside is you can be in Germany, France or Belgium in about fifteen minutes, and pick up your bargains there!

A steep valley cuts through Luxembourg city, creating these beautiful vistas
A steep valley cuts through Luxembourg city, creating these beautiful vistas
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I do miss the energy of the bigger cities. We visit Brussels, Copenhagen and some other cities quite regularly, and I always enjoy the buzz they have. It can feel a little quiet here, but if you dig a little, you'll still always find something interesting going on.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Live as if you'll be here forever. It's my number one piece of advice for any expat. It feels counter-intuitive, especially if you know you'll not be here longer. But one of the keys to a happy and full life is being present in this moment, being grateful for it – hard bits and all – and being open and attentive to all it has to offer. And when you eventually move on, the sadness and difficulty in leaving will be eclipsed by the gratitude for having been able to truly call this place “home” for a time. You will take memories of adventures had, challenges overcome, moments celebrated. And those are worth more than gold.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The initial loneliness that comes with moving to a new place, when everything is new and strange, you no no-one and you're not sure how to fill your days. It never goes on forever, but that doesn't make it any easier in the moment. I'm so glad now to have settled in and found some great friends but the memory of those early days keeps me reaching out to new people when I meet them.

Enjoying gluhwein at the annual Christmas markets!
Enjoying gluhwein at the annual Christmas markets!
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language. Yes it's hard but it'll radically impact your time as an expat to be able to communicate well locally.
  2. Be brave. Get out of your comfort zone, go to networking events, make friends with your neighbours, join a club.
  3. Stay positive. There's a lot that will be new and seem bizarre and foreign to you. Avoid complaining or negativity - life looks much brighter with a positive attitude.
  4. Volunteer. There's few better ways of getting to know your host country and culture than volunteering your time and expertise for a local cause or need.
  5. Embrace a simpler lifestyle. Moving overseas is the perfect opportunity to pair down your belongings and figure out what truly matters to you.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is simply my place where I record my adventures, my struggles, my ponderings about my life. And since so much of my life is impacted by my being an expat, I've found many other expats tell me they can relate a lot. I recently did a series, "31 days to Embrace Expat Life" where I tried to pull together my best tips and thoughts from seven years of living overseas.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me through facebook or twitter (@fiona_lynne) or by commenting on any of my blog posts.

Fiona blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Fiona Lynne - Far Far Away has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Fiona, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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