2008 is here already and, in a few months, Andrew and I will be marking the third anniversary of our arrival in Belgium. I’m not normally one for New Year’s Resolutions but I do have a few hopes and wishes for the coming months.
- In 2008 I would like to move into the Brussels city limits. I’ve been half-heartedly house hunting for a while now, but now that the holiday rush is over, I need to settle down and find us a more convenient place to live.
- If we do manage to find a new home in the city, I would like to master the public transportation system. The freedom to get around on the metro and tram network would be a big change from the one bus I have access to in my current village.
- In the past year, Andrew and I managed to take better advantage of living in a major European city by attending more concerts and events. I’d like to continue in this vein in 2008 by participating in more cultural events. I would love to attend an opera or a ballet, for the first time, and I hope to see more inspiring art exhibitions in some of the smaller and less well known galleries in Brussels.
- I hope to take advantage of some of the sights I still haven’t seen in Belgium. Not knowing how long we will be living in Brussels tends to make me complacent about seeing the sights here. I tell myself ‘I’ll get to that eventually, because it’s so close by.’ Meanwhile I am itching to explore something new. I need to remember that while traveling abroad is exciting, there are many beautiful and interesting sights awaiting me here (and by sticking close to home I can also save money for travel abroad).
- I wish for more spontaneous travel opportunities this year. In the past, some of our best trips have been those that were planned at the last minute. Some of the nicest places we’ve been have been those that I hadn’t read about in magazines or studied in guidebooks time and time again. We had few expectations when we arrived and were always pleasantly surprised by what we found. I have to remind myself that while planning is a good idea for long trips, it can be much more relaxing to spend a weekend enjoying the sights as I discover them.
- My final wish for 2008 is a big one – I wish for peace. I wish for more peace in the world news headlines. I wish for peace between the opposing sides here in Belgium: the Flemish and the Walloons, separatists and non-separatists, immigrants and Belgian citizens. While I know I can’t control the peacefulness of others, I can hope for peace within myself – be it at the commune for the fourth time in one week or when someone cuts in front of me at the train ticket counter. Expat life tends to be full of highs and lows but I have to remember that only I can control how the drama affects me personally.
To my fellow expats in Belgium and around the world, I also have some wishes for you. I wish you luck in your dealings with government officials, excitement in discovering your new host country, joy in meeting new friends, and peace when the expat road gets bumpy.
All the best for 2008!