Tag Archives: Luxembourg

TWO YEARS IN LUXEMBOURG

Out walking a dog from a local dog shelter

Can you even believe it? I’ve been in Luxembourg for over 2 years now. It’s been a bit of a wild ride, but the main thing is that THINGS HAVE GOTTEN BETTER. I’m less lonely, more active, and I’m much happier. Here are a few of the main things I’d like to discuss:

HAVING A CAR

We got a car in May 2016, and it’s been one of the best things of the year. Waiting in the freezing cold for a bus happens less now, and grocery shopping is much easier. And, surprisingly, hikes are easier too, because we can just drive into the countryside and go for long walks, instead of always having to start from the city.

Driving to places in the region has also been amazing – we’ve gone to places like Maastricht and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Wesel and Cologne in Germany, and Liège (for a Kate Tempest concert) and Brussels (for our Christmas flights back home) in Belgium. And we can always drive to a city in France in the evening for comfort food at the place which makes the best chocolate fondant.

GETTING A JOB

In 2016, I did a traineeship at the European Commission, and then got a job at the European Commission which started in November 2016. It’s been life-changing and very good. I like having a job to go to every day.

FRIENDS

I still don’t have too many close friends in Luxembourg, but I love the ones I do have, and I am certainly becoming more involved in things (for example, I joined a book club this week, whee!).

THE WEATHER

It’s beautiful, sometimes, but when it rains every day in June (like it did last year), I’m over it. This country doesn’t have very good weather. And no sea. Ugh.

A PET CAT

We still don’t have a pet cat. I want one so badly. It still doesn’t make sense to get one (we’re away most of the day and sometimes for days at a time when we travel), but STILL. WANT ONE.

FRENCH

I’m still so far away from being fluent in French. BUT I am always inching towards that goal of mine. In a few weeks I’ll be starting more formal lessons, for several hours a week. Let’s hope that that will give me the confidence and knowledge I need to become better at this French-speaking malarkey.

SETTLING HERE?

This is not out of the question, for a few years, whereas a year ago I would have said that I can’t wait to go back to Malta (or move somewhere else) ASAP. Now, I could see myself staying here for a few years, if things pan out well on the job-front. There’s also the question of finding a more sustainable place to live (instead of throwing money down the drain in rent every month).

MISSING MALTA

I still miss Malta, a lot, every day. It’s the place, the people, my family, our new little nephew, my cat, the food, my car, driving on the left, my friends, the Pub, the restaurants… I could go on. Luxembourg is my home, but only for now, and not really. Malta is my home.

Who knows what’s in store for this next year?

A Course for Newcomers in Luxembourg

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When I arrived in Luxembourg, I wrote a blog post about my very first impressions. I can’t believe it will soon be a whole entire year since I wrote that post! Still a little over a month to go, though. :)

A lovely woman who lives in Luxembourg had read that blog post and sent me a sweet email to welcome me to Luxembourg (and gave me a bunch of hugely useful tips!) – one of her suggestions had been to attend a course that was specifically tailored for newcomers to Luxembourg. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend that course, because there weren’t any new courses being held, but the woman who takes care of these courses just emailed me to say that there are new ones that are about to be held, and I thought it would be helpful to spread the word.

These courses are free to attend (and include lunch!), and the length of time you’ve been in Luxembourg is not a restriction. Unfortunately, these courses are currently only available to non-EU nationals, but I’m hoping that some people who fall under that category will come across this and apply.

The first course will be on December 5th. It will also eventually be offered in Portuguese. Check out further details on their website. Happy relocating!

I’ve been in Luxembourg for 6 months

Aiden Tate on Instagram

I’ve been in Luxembourg for exactly 6 months. Half a year. I’m writing this sitting in my lovingly furnished office in our Bonnevoie apartment, in sweltering heat (it’s a freakish 35 degrees right now, and we have no air conditioning, and all fans within a 100-mile radius seem to be sold out).

This morning, I had my last B1.1 French lesson, where I found that I did very well in our end-of-semester tests. While waiting for the bus this afternoon, a woman spoke to me in French and asked me for details about how to catch a bus to a certain bus stop, and I replied (in French!) with the correct information.

The past 6 months have been nothing like what I expected. I didn’t expect much, to be honest – but I did initially expect that I would quickly get sucked into a 9am-6pm job, at least by March/April. That did not happen, but other things did. My proofreading business flourished beautifully over the last few months, and I’m very proud of my work, my productivity, and the amount of work I attract. However, Luxembourg is very expensive, and I still don’t make enough money to live comfortably in a city like this. I’m hopeful about a number of avenues opening up before me over the next few weeks/months, however, so I’m very aware that my situation may change very soon (hopefully for the better!).

I’m loving Luxembourg. My visits to places like Belgium (while it’s also a gorgeous country), solidify my love for Luxembourg as my country-on-the-continent of choice. The weather is very strange – I never imagined it could be so warm after such a cold winter. But that’s what happens when you come from a country with such a mild climate, and after living in a very cold city (Durham) for a year, where I was wearing my winter coat all through summer.

My impressions of Luxembourg are ultimately married with my impressions of living alone with my boyfriend for the first time. It’s all going very well, and the benefits of living alone totally outweigh the annoying bits (i.e. having to do eeeeeverything yourself, and having to live with a particularly messy person – although he does do most of the cooking <3).

Luxembourg itself has been pleasant and opulent and kind, even if the language barrier does get frustrating at times. I wouldn’t mind spending some more time here. I wonder how long that will be.

Violets and nuns, oh my! (The LUSH Mother’s Day range.)

Claire Bonello LUSH

LUSH warms the cockles of my heart. It’s such a fun, good company, with excellent products and lovely staff. This week, I headed off to a bloggers’ event where we all discovered the new Mother’s Day range. (PS: yes, I know, Mother’s Day was last Sunday in Malta, and even earlier in other parts of the world, but in Luxembourg, it’s much later, in June.) The event was top-notch, as usual, (they even gave us gorgeous fresh flowers for our hair! And the LUSH representatives were kind enough to translate all their beautiful French explanations into English for poor little me) and I emerged with such a feel-good feeling.

Mostly due to the delicious strawberry concoction (above) and the delicious nibbles (below). Oh my, I must have had about five desserts. So good.

LUSH Mother's Day nibbles

The LUSH team are the kindest with bloggers, and sent us all home with a giant bag full of wonderful stuff from the Mother’s Day range. Clockwise from the top: Ultraviolet bubble bar, Yummy Mummy shower gel, Yummy Mummy body conditioner, Kerbside Violet solid perfume, and the Mother Superior bubble bar.

LUSH Mother's Day 2015

My favourites have to be the beautiful purple-y Yummy Mummy shower gel, and the hilarious Mother Superior bubble bar. Apart from looking amazing, they also smell out-of-this-world wonderful, and after a couple of hours at a LUSH shop, I practically radiated a fresh LUSH scent out of my pores. (I loved it.)

LUSH Mother's Day range

I had the best time with my sweet Luxembourg friends. Below, I’m posing with the lovely Betty and my best Luxembourg friend, Valentina. (My dress is from Zara.)

LUSH Betty Valentina Claire

It was a fabulous event, and I can’t wait to use up all my new products. I also picked up the Mask of Magnaminty (after trying out a sample a few weeks ago and loving it), and I became slightly obsessed with one of their new fragrances, All Good Things (it smells smokey yet sweet like candy floss – amazing) – I must save up for it ASAP.

And now our bathroom is a little overwhelmed by LUSH products… Oh well. ;)

The Luxembourg City Film Festival: Reviewed

Cinema is quickly becoming one of my most favourite media. Yes, I read a lot of books, and I watch a lot of TV shows and a lot of YouTube channels, but films have slowly started to increasingly interest me as a story form. A whole idea, style and story are bundled up into 1.5-3 hours, and they’re (usually) presented as a feast for all the senses.

Within the first 24 hours of moving to Luxembourg, I visited one of the cinemas in the city, and watched a film (in English!). It was delightfully calming to be in a dark room, in this strange foreign country, watching a film – I could have been anywhere, and that thought was very soothing. Then, between 26 February and 8 March, the city hosted the Luxembourg City Film Festival, and my boyfriend and I purchased two festival passes (a steal at 20EUR each), and watched a total of 14 (FOURTEEN) films during the entire festival. It was possibly quite the overdose of films, but overall great fun. I was quite surprised by the final awards (although I only saw two of the films that won an award), but I thought I’d give you a quick review of my thoughts regarding the entire festival, as well as each of the films I watched.

Best cinema: I watched films at both the Cinémathèque and Ciné Utopia, but the latter will always be my favourite (even if the former does have quite a bit of its own charm).

Best snacks: I still can’t understand how some cinemas don’t have popcorn (it’s probably that darn Americanisation my mind has absorbed over the years…), but it was glorious to munch on a giant pretzel at the Cinémathèque, and a pomegranate and cranberry soft drink or a white chocolate milk shake and a hot quiche at Ciné Utopia. One of the most upsetting moments of the festival for me was probably when the person at the snacks station at Ciné Utopia looked at me pleadingly when I asked her for a white chocolate milkshake, and then suggesting that I don’t order it, clearly because she didn’t feel like making one. It broke my little heart. Then, later on, my boyfriend managed to get TWO white chocolate milkshakes (from the other person at the snacks station) – so that was a mini-victory right there.

Female protagonists: EVERYWHERE. I loved this. I’m having a real “moment” with female protagonists lately, especially in my books, TV shows, and films, so this recurring feature was very pleasing to me.

Read more about the films I watched below:

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Luxembourg: Two-month update

Yesterday marked my two-monthiversary in Luxembourg. February was a quiet month, but I still had plenty of first impressions of Luxembourg to get under my belt.

  1. Being sick in such a cold country: I spent about a week of February feeling really unwell, and while I didn’t need to go to a doctor (thankfully), it really sucked to have to go outdoors (sometimes it was a necessity) and it being so cold. It really felt like the cold was exacerbating my sickly feelings x100000.
  2. Renting a van is super easy: we rented a van to drive to IKEA in Belgium and back (with all our purchases which fit in perfectly – if we had bought anything else, it wouldn’t have fit), and it was a really easy and pleasant process.
  3. French language lessons: I FINALLY enrolled myself in language lessons, and I’ve had two lessons already. It’s been a lovely experience (I was terrified), and even though I’m a little below the level of what I probably should be for my class (B1.1 – I’m more of an A2.2 right now), the person who assigned me to the level said it would be better for me, and I am finding it quite a challenge, which is good.
  4. Daily life: While I’ve been finding it difficult sometimes to get some structure in my days, I’m loving the proofreading work that I’ve been doing, particularly since I’ve been doing some really varied work (including websites, text in both Maltese and English, job applications, and legal translations).
  5. The Luxembourg City Film Festival: It has been an amazing few days – watching a film or two every evening at the Luxembourg City film festival. It’s been really nice to go out and watch such beautiful films (mostly), and most of them have been in English or else have English subtitles, which is great. We did have to watch one film in Norwegian with French subtitles… but we seemed to have understood most of it anyway.
  6. Spring: I’m so excited for Spring here! It’s also my birthday just before Spring kicks off, so hopefully there will be a few more beautiful days.
  7. Travel: For my boyfriend’s birthday, we caught a bus and visited a little village on the German-Luxembourgish border, just along the Moselle river. It was so picturesque and lovely – even though it was an awfully rainy day. It’s quite amazing that with a small bus ride, you can find yourself in the midst of beautiful countryside.
  8. Post: I thought that coming to live in the middle of Europe will do wonders for my experience with the postal service. Quite the contrary… Mail has been sooooo slowwwww. I can’t understand why things are taking so long to arrive at our address.
  9. Expensive: It’s still quite shocking every day to see how expensive things are in Luxembourg. Restaurants and even general groceries… I think I might go crazy when I’m back in Malta over the next few months – I’m going to want to buy everything!
  10. Night life: Yes, Luxembourg is quite a quiet little city, but I don’t understand the impression that people have incessantly told me that it is boring and nothing happens. There are so many restaurants, and so many events going on! Maybe my interests align with what Luxembourg City has to offer, but I’m loving it. Exit07 has been a particularly favourite discovery this month.

I’m beyond excited about Spring, and also applying for a couple of internships – hoping to perhaps spend a few months being mentored and developing a few skills… I’m loving working for myself, but I do hope to explore other avenues too. It’s both scary and exciting to have so many possibilities before me. Stay tuned. ;)

Cooking at Vapiano in Luxembourg

crema di fragole vapiano 2

crema di fragole vapiano 1vapiano capPardon my double-triple-multiple-chins in the photo where I’m trying to assemble a delightful Crema di Fragola dessert (it thankfully turned out to be super delicious). Also please pardon the wide-eyed terrified look in the photo where I had put on a chef’s cap (thankfully the pizza I prepared soon thereafter was also tasty).

These photos are from a lovely event that the Vapiano restaurant chain organised for some bloggers in Luxembourg a couple of weeks ago. I’m so pleased that I ended up going – it was a really relaxed evening with yummy food, pleasant company, and even a little bit of pampering involved.

Vapiano is a chain of restaurants (there over 120!!) that makes fresh Italian food – pizza, pasta, salads, etc – and you can even see the food being made. I had never visited a Vapiano restaurant before this event, and it was all a very pleasant surprise. The décor is relaxing, with long wooden tables and little herb plants on every table. I loved it.

We had the opportunity to make our own pizza (I learned how to really “work” the dough – it was fantastic), and desserts (as seen above), and even cocktails (strawberry mojitos!).

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The evening when we went to the Vapiano restaurant (next to the train station) was a “Ladies’ Night”, which involved the possibility of getting our hair done by some lovely professional hairdressers. I ended up going with a chignon – and it looked (and made me feel) absolutely fabulous.

hair at Vapiano

The evening kept getting better till the last second – we were sent home with a delightful goodie bag (I LIVE FOR GOODIE BAGS) with a rosemary plant (which I haven’t killed yet!) and a beautiful thick Vapiano apron.

It was such a wonderful evening, and the best part was that I met some truly beautiful and lovely women from all around the world. Can’t wait to go back for some delicious pasta and cocktails.

(I’m sorry the photos aren’t very good quality – I only had my phone’s camera that evening (I had totally forgotten my DSLR at home, ugh.).)

What I Bought on my First Outing in Luxembourg

Luxembourg Shopping January 2015

During my first few days in Luxembourg, I popped out on my own one morning to discover what a few of the shops in the city centre had to offer. I’m not used to having H&M, LUSH, HEMA, and Sephora all within a few minutes’ walking distance, so it was all Very Exciting.

Some things I bought!

I made cakes for our neighbours in the apartments below us, smelt oh-so-good, and found a book from my to-read list, in English! The fact that all the things I bought from LUSH were 50% off still boggles my mind. HEMA is also clearly my new favourite bits-and-bobs shop. I later visited it again and bought ALL their cards.

Any other cool shop suggestions for me to visit in Luxembourg? I like pretty stationery, books (in English), beauty products, food, and skater dresses.

One Month in Luxembourg

Last night marked my first month in Luxembourg. It’s amazing to be living here – my entire life and being feel so much more open and free. I truly love living alone (well, with my boyfriend, but he doesn’t count :P) and being “in charge” of my little life, even if that means a tonne of anxiety on difficult days. But that can always be solved with a short (chilly) walk or by burning a calming candle.

Even though I’ve done some pretty heavy-duty job-hunting this past month, I’ve also devoted myself hugely to my proofreading business, and my income didn’t even take a dip. The new environment and the new structure to my working-day have also made me feel so much calmer and more productive (even if I still don’t have any proper office furniture yet – a massive trip to IKEA is planned for this weekend though!).

The fact that I’ve been meeting a few more people over the past couple of weeks (mostly due to the super-lovely and super-awesome blogging community over here) has made life so much brighter, and I hope to meet lots more people from all around the world as the weeks roll on.

The language(s) barrier has seen me struggle a bit over the month, and I still haven’t started formal language lessons (hoping to do so by the end of this month though!). The worst is the utter feeling of frustration when a kind (or not so kind) employee at a shop or bus driver or another person speaks to me in French/Luxembourgish and I would have no clue (or only a small idea) of what they would be saying. Most of the time, it would be very simple to ask them to speak slower or to switch to English, but the initial pang of frustration with myself for not understanding the language being directed towards me makes me want to just give up. I was in Zara about a week ago, and a lovely man at the changing rooms spoke to me – I’m not sure what he said – but as soon as I realised that I would need to go the extra mile to try and understand (or to ask him to speak slower or to speak in English), I didn’t have the energy to even attempt anything. So I smiled and just left. I shouldn’t have done that, but in the moment, I was too tired and frustrated with everything. I definitely need to work on this (both my patience and my French language skills).

My innate sense of direction thankfully kicked in almost immediately upon arriving in Luxembourg, and I have a good idea of a lot of places in the city centre (and in the area where we live, particularly on the bus route). This (and a reliable bus service) has helped a lot with my ability to explore and get around.

One thing about Luxembourg which disappoints me (it’s not that big of a deal though), is their (seemingly large) lack of cider, which is my alcoholic beverage of choice. They don’t really seem to drink it here, and even the biggest supermarkets will only have a couple of the most popular brands (Bulmers and Strongbow), and maybe a local version that’s in a wine bottle with a cork. I even went to a pub last Monday where I would have thought they’d definitely have some form of cider, even if it’s just Bulmers in a bottle, but they didn’t even have that! Disappoint. I guess my year in Durham must have spoiled me (oh, to have a pint of organic cider at the Swan and Three!) – well, I’ll just have to find some beers I really like (of which I can stomach more than half a pint), or explore my options a bit more.

What else? The snow has been fantastic, even if we did get stranded a mile away from home last time in a snowstorm, because our bus just wouldn’t stop skidding and riding up pavements. It was fine though, I had my sense of direction to (roughly) guide us home.

I’m very excited about what the next month has to offer. Hopefully some more exploring of this beautiful country, and making our apartment a more homely place. I can’t wait.

January 2015 Favourites <3

Wow. I’ve almost hit ONE MONTH IN LUXEMBOURG. Capital letters are necessary, people. It’s quite a daunting fact that I’ve moved away from Malta and lived in a totally new country for four weeks now, and I still need to adjust and settle a bit more, but, mostly, everything is fantastic. I’m ridiculously happy when it snows, I’m overwhelmed by the warm welcome I’ve received, and I went to a LUSH bloggers’ event this week. (Come on, people.)

Pictured favourites of the month!

  • The snow! – I LOVE IT. (Not when it’s like a slushie, though.)
  • A feminist T-shirt – I had mentioned in my Christmas wishlist that I really wanted a feminism-related T-shirt, and my wonderful friend Anke sent me one for Christmas! I love it.
  • A Diptyque candle (Feu de Bois) – I bought this for myself as a reward for getting through a particularly gruelling day. It’s so expensive but so divine. I love candles and have had one burning almost constantly throughout January.
  • A New Look dress (similar) – this was a Christmas present from my (excellent) friend Anna. I love how comfortable it is, but I feel like the shape of it is really smart and flattering. It was the perfect Christmas present, Anna-face! <3
  • LUSH Full of Grace serum – the loveliest LUSH employee recommended this a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been adoring it. I apply it every morning to my bare face and it hydrates and softens my skin so much – I sometimes even skip my moisturiser after using this.
  • LUSH Peace massage bar – this melts in your hand and has the most luxurious, delicate scent. I rub it against my bumpy bits and it starts to melt when it feels your body heat. Lovely.
  • Nutella – we’ve consumed jars of Nutella this month. So much so that we had to buy a particularly big one last time we popped into a supermarket. I
  • Delhaize microwave popcorn – this is a bit of a random one, but I went shopping on an empty stomach a few days ago (bad, I know), and I got a huge craving for microwave popcorn. I got the cheapest store-brand variety, and it was SO GOOD to eat while watching Suits this week. There were only a few unpopped kernels, and the popcorn itself was delicious and not too salty.

Other favourites:

I could go on and on forever listing all the little things that I’ve been loving about Luxembourg. I’ll put up another first impressions/first month update post soon.

February is usually my least favourite month of the year (awkward, cold, slow), but I’m guessing it will be an exciting one this year. Hope everyone is having a marvellous weekend.