Welcome to Luxembourg!
Hi, my name is Claire and I was delighted to have been asked to become an JAA Ambassador for the United Kingdom. I have been in Luxembourg now for nearly 19 years. We relocated for my husband work as he agreed initially to take a 6 month contract, I was on maternity leave from British Airways and thought why not, let’s have an adventure!
Nineteen years later and I have to admit that it was one of the best decisions we ever made, Luxembourg has been a wonderful place to live and bring up a family for many reasons and we are happy to call it home.
Although fortunate to have landed in a country where most people speak great English, I was determined not to be lazy. I brushed up my school level French and took evening classes in Luxembourgish at my local commune, which I’m sure helped me to feel more settled and integrated. I also met some great peoples of all different nationalities, one of the beauties of Luxembourg life.
I would advise anyone arriving to at least try to learn a little Luxembourgish and French or German, there are so many courses available be it online or via local communes. It is appreciated and will help you will feel more integrated. Olai offer an integration contract which I completed and very much enjoyed.
During my time in Luxembourg, I have had my own small craft business, worked 10 years for the British Embassy and am currently working at the International School of Luxembourg. Life has certainly never been dull! My children have benefited greatly from having been brought up the multi-cultural environment which Luxembourg embraces, they have learned to get by in four languages and enjoyed being involved in both the English speaking and local scout groups, as well as volunteering in the community. Although my son has chosen to pursue further education in the UK (which he is loving) I do wonder if maybe he will return one day.
Luxembourg offers clubs and courses to suit everyone, whether it be sports, cooking, sewing, singing or amateur dramatics, I would advise anyone newly arrived to head straight to their local town hall (Mairie) and find out what is on offer. You will I’m sure be pleasantly surprised. Since being here I have learned flower arranging, taken several cookery and nutrition classes and found a new passion for Zumba! My husband has added to his IT programming knowledge through Lifelong-learning evening classes, which he highly recommends.
I often hear people complaining that shops are not open on a Sunday (not strictly true as many now do open, shops are open in the City usually the first Sunday afternoon of the month), however this is one of the things I really appreciate and find conducive to family work/life balance. Who needs to spend the whole weekend at the DIY stores! I much prefer a long walk in one of the many beautiful parks, forests, lakes or enjoy one of the many fabulous restaurants that Luxembourg has to offer.
There are many links that Luxembourg shares with the UK, as the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall highlighted in his fabulous exhibition and book entitled #LuxUKLinks (definitely worth a read and can be found in local bookshops). Not only do we share great transport links but also lots of historic ones too! Did you know that there is even a Centre for Luxembourg Studies at the University in Sheffield!
I should point out that we have always felt most welcome in Luxembourg despite the vote of the British public to withdrawal from the EU, which of course was most certainly not the will of most of the British citizens living here in Luxembourg. We are very lucky to have many associations here, should you wish to meet people english speakers, the British Luxembourg Society, British Chamber of Commerce and British Ladies Club to name but a few (see the community page). There are also several UK University Alumni associations now in Luxembourg and even an association for Students from Luxembourg that study in the UK (SLSB). There are also many local news websites and social media groups here in English, which are a great source of information.
We try to keep informed as to what is going on and get involved. As a family we very much appreciate and enjoy feeling part of our local community, the many local traditions and festivals have become part of our yearly plan, whether it be buying a peckvillchen at Emaischen or the amazing celebrations and fireworks on eve of our Luxembourg National Day. Our street is planning the annual Neighbours Day Festival (Nopeschtfest) which is great fun, we all bring a dish and a few of us drag our BBQs to the local park to get to know each other. The commune provides tables and we do the rest. It has been a great way to get to know our neighbours, last year we had 60 neighbours turn up all ages and over 15 different nationalities! I will never take for granted the fact that we all live in peace and harmony, which of course in not the case in many parts of the world. During the annual event I found out one of my neighbours with whom I had only exchanged pleasantries in Luxembourgish with for the last 4 years is actually from Wales and has lived here for 30 years! Fete des Voisins usually take place in May/June.
If there is one thing I have learned about being expatriated it is that you have to make an effort, Luxembourg is no exception. And although there is so much going on and opportunity out, there it will not find you so you need to be proactive and take yourself out of your comfort zone. I do hope that you find your Luxembourg experience a good one and look forward to meeting you at a Just Arrived Event in the near future.
Merci a bis geschwënn!