Who are you?
My name is Estelle Van de Velde. I am a Belgian writer and book blogger, expat in London. I’ve been public relations manager for a football club before daring to move to another country. Then I did a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University London and worked for three months as a digital marketing assistant. I am now ready to follow my dreams: becoming a full-time writer.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
The question to move abroad had been asked by my boyfriend, who wanted to pursue his career in IT. We first thought about Canada, but then it occurred to us that we’d miss our families. That’s why we finally chose the United Kingdom (more precisely London) to start our expat life. It was in February 2015.
What challenges did you face during the move?
We didn’t have that much to take with us, so this part was easy. The hardest things were more about hunting for a job, finding a flat, what paper do we need to get another paper… But it’s an organisational question. I think that with a plan, you can’t do anything wrong.
Are there many other expats in your area?
London is a cosmopolitan city, so, of course, there’re plenty of other expats. I think I have occasionally met a true Brit, maybe two or three since I live there.
What do you like about life where you are?
Before London, my boyfriend and I didn’t live together. So obviously my answer will be: living with my lovely boyfriend.
Also, there’s plenty of things to do: visit a museum (they are free), walk at a park, go shopping, etc. I think you never get bored when you live there.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The crowd! The capital is maybe huge, but the crowd in Central London is a nightmare. I never thought I could become agoraphobic one day. That’s not the reason why we are moving to Brighton though. My boyfriend started a carpet allergy! I don’t know why British flats come always carpeted. Is it trendy?
More seriously, the thing I hate being an expat is that I miss every single event in my family: announcement, birthdays, family meetings… Fortunately, Belgium is not far from London, so we can quickly take the train when we are too homesick ☺
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
I’m still amazed at how people are polite. Even to greet their neighbours, they say “are you alright?” At first, I really thought my neighbour was enquiring if I was ok. But I quickly understood it was a way just to say “hello”.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Be prepared and have lots of savings, for your future deposit and rent.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m planning to find a part-time job to support my writing life and blogging. But more importantly, I would love to get a book out there before my next birthday. So let’s do this!
You can keep up to date with Estelle's adventures in the UK on her blog.