Big Girl Blues

By - May 18, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

I’ve been debating for the past few days what to write in this blog. There is a temptation to sugar coat things and only talk about the fun or exciting experiences we’ve been having. The downside to this is being frustrated when people think that this is all a big vacation. While I don’t want to sulk about our problems, I do want this blog to be an accurate representation of what our time here is actually like, as a reminder to myself, if nothing else.

That being said, the past week has been rather hard on me and I thank my friends who have e-mailed me uplifting thoughts (you know who you are) and put up with my moping. Andrew has been in Brussels since last Tuesday, with the exception of the weekend. It has been difficult spending that long period by myself. While I am not a super social person, I’m not big on being alone. It’s one thing to be alone in Halifax, when I can pick up the phone and go out with someone, than being utterly alone here. I try to go out for walks when I can but shopping and going to do things by myself really holds no interest for me. In addition the money situation is very bleak right now. Andrew’s work advanced us the money to pay for our uber-expensive apartment and is taking it out of his paychecks very aggressively. We are also going to be shelling out a lot of our own money in fees associated with renting the Belgian house and furnishing it. Then there is the cost of shipping the dog here… the list goes on.

To make matters worse, all of the things that we shipped (mostly stuff to keep me occupied) are stuck in Rotterdam and we very well may not be able to get them until we move to Belgium. It just seemed as if with every step we took in order to make this work, someone pushed us back or put up yet another road block.

By Thursday, I was feeling pretty down and then Andrew informed me he would have to spend this week in Brussels as well. Well, that just sent me into a deep, dark funk. Friday I had decided to take the train down to meet him and we were going to look for houses. It was Friday the 13th, naturally, and when I was a half hour outside of Brussels, we were informed that there was a train workers strike and the trains would not be running for 2 hours. I called Andrew and he came to get me. But the time he got there I lost it. Everything that had been building before and since our move came crashing down. I started to regret our decision and blame myself for pushing ahead with it.

Andrew dropped me off at the hotel and had to go back to work for a few hours. I had a long bubble bath and tried to cheer myself up. That evening we met our real estate agent and looked at a couple of houses. As you know, I was not looking forward to the Belgian move. Up to that point, I hadn’t seen anything in the Brussels area that really appealed to me, in terms of a place to live. The areas that our agent took us to started to change my mind. While several of the houses we looked at were too big for us there was one that had an odd charm and by the end of the night I was feeling a bit better about the situation.

Saturday morning we went to view more properties. The first was in a very nice area but the house reeked of smoke and the bathroom was dismal. Then the agent talked us into viewing a semi-detached house. I had insisted that we needed a detached house with the animals. I had pre-conceived ideas about semis based on what I had seen in North America. We went anyway and I totally changed my mind. It ended up being the house we were most interested in. It was the perfect size, very open and light, great yard, garage and big rooms. It was everything we wanted and the area was absolutely perfect.

It’s 30 mins from Drew’s work but it’s in a totally rural setting. There are hills and fields (it reminds me a bit of PEI) and lots of horses. It’s a small village but very close to Leuven which is a big university town, and also within 30 mins of Brussels. All in all, it made me feel a lot better about the move and a little more positive about life in general (as long as I don’t think of everything we’ll have to buy…)

So now we begin the next struggle. We have to put a rental offer on the house, get a bank account with 3 months rent available and do all the associated paperwork… without our visas. Should be interesting. At least we have enlisted the services of Linda, our agent, who also freelances as a relocation agent. Her prices are much more reasonable than an agency and it will be good for us to have someone who understands everything we need to do. So, cross your fingers for us that maybe this one thing will go smoothly. If these are all growing experiences, I’m going to be a very big girl…

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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