±JOIN OUR FREE NEWSLETTER

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Expat Experiences

Belgium > Expat Experiences

Belgium

Ana Elisa Miranda

Thursday November 30, 2017 (14:19:38)
Ana Elisa Miranda
Ana Elisa Miranda

Who are you?

My name is Ana Elisa, I’m from Brazil and I’m a teacher. I taught English as a Second Language before I moved abroad for the first time.

After two au pair experiences I went back to teaching and today I work at an international school.


Where, when and why did you move abroad?

As an English student and later teacher I’d always wanted to experience life abroad. In 2009 I went to the USA and worked as an au pair for a year and a half. I still wanted to see more of the world, so a few months after going back home I moved to Belgium to be an au pair again for one year. During that time I met my partner and eventually decided to return.


What challenges did you face during the move?

Coming back to Belgium wasn’t easy. I hoped getting my residence permit and finding a job would be a smooth transition. It took quite a (frustrating, stressful) while before I had my identity card, learned Dutch, went through the integration program and found work.

That lack of work, purpose and belonging can really challenge anyone’s self-esteem.


Are there many other expats in your area?

I live in a touristic city, home to universities and international companies. The atmosphere is highly diverse - you find all kinds of food, stores, languages and events.


What do you like about life where you are?

I love that Belgium is in the heart of Europe and you can easily go anywhere. We can take our time exploring neighboring countries, going back whenever possible. At the same time, my city still has a comfortable and calm atmosphere. I’m not a big city girl and I grew to love cycling everyday.


What do you dislike about your expat life?

I’m used to living abroad now; but to me the worst still is missing out on important things that happen back home as well as just being part of my family’s daily life.


What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I’m very open-minded and adaptable. That might be why I haven’t experienced a really big cultural difference. Of course I can’t deny the huge social and economic gap there is between Brazil and the US or Europe, which affects lifestyle and behaviour. However, I have never encountered a truly baffling situation.

On a personal level I feel that Brazilians are much more open and warm than Europeans or Americans. We hug, we touch when talking, we become fast friends. I grew to enjoy and respect personal space boundaries, but some days all I need is a friendly hug and a caring conversation.


What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Belgium makes the highest variety and some of the best beers in the world!

They’re also known for their fries and waffles, but there’s much more on the Belgian table than that - lots of international influence as well as local produce. I love the typical Flemish stew (stoofvlees) and mussels but I haven’t acquired the taste for chicory (witloof) yet.


What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Be brave. Be prepared. Be patient.


You can keep up to date with Ana's adventures on her blog.


Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

 
Link  QR 


Expat Health Insurance Partners


Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.2m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with them so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.