It has already happened. Yes, I have been living in Belgium with my partner for about a month. What seemed absolutely unrealistic, even catastrophic, became a reality and I moved.
Actually, the way I discovered this great blog a long time ago was because I found a Belgian boyfriend and Wilko wrote great, funny but especially good articles about our nations.
I’ll write my funy month of integration into Belgian society.
Let me start with the fact that the Slovak Republic is not at all helpful when someone is moving to another country and somehow wants to keep his papers ok. The fact that the entire bureaucracy around the Social Insurance Agency, Labor Office, Health Insurance Company lasted over a month is ok for someone, but when they call you there like for piano lessons, because they always forget to sign something or inform you, it wasn’t ok anymore. But well, I survived.
So with all the papers I went to my new home. Such a fresj air here, belgians have online registration for their office – VDAB. Online like what? I think Slovakia is a bit in the Stone Age in this yet. But we will not be happy for long. The ladies at the VDAB office were so confused that someone with full working and social documentation and even with the support of their own country came there that they didn’t even know what to do with me. So instead of having to register smoothly, I ran the tour de Belgian authorities until the lady of Brussels reported to the first lady that, yes it was all real. No, I do not want to suck the Belgian social welfare system, I want to live and work here.
Well, I guess I was a special snowflake. Everything is for the first time. This was followed by registration with the local city hall. That was fun too. The guy explained to me that I could do what I want for three months and then they would send me back to home. Sweet right? Everything has its pros and cons. But hooray, I got my social registration number, so the “šup šup” looking for a job. Day after day, I sent my CVs and requests here and there, but either they didn’t reply back or denied me for not speaking dutch. After about a week and some days, when I had all the negative responses, I became depressed. Of all this. Being somewhere where you don’t want to … be alone somewhere and fight for yourself.
Then it came. Two great offers to international companies. Interviews, just two days in a row. I was preparing for it. I didn’t want to go wrong. But!!! I underestimated one important factor and this is a wonderful public transport in Belgium. It really sucks, really deeply sucks. On the day of my interview or buses did not go, and the one which went, stopped about 2.5 km further than I originally had to get off, so I came to my late interview late. I was nerved almost hysteric, that I will just quit all this pain in ass system and going back home to Slovakia. But the company manager and the lady from HR were super kind and understanding – probably native Belgians, so they took the whole thing with sense of humor. The first interview turned out great. At least I felt it that way.
The next day I had another. I went there by bike – it was only 8.5km from the town where we live, so good cardio plus I wanted to avoid the situation from previous day. I came there on time and the interview was going great as well. The Belgians are nice, at least those who offer you job.
1. Belgian bureaucracy is at least as annoying as the Slovak one.
2. Officials are very slow and have time for everything.
3. Belgian public transport is one big disaster.
4. For the first two weeks I cried about 3 times out of despair and depression.
These were my first three weeks in Belgium. As it turned out, I will write in the next article.