Friday, February 20, 2015

Belgian Tech Wiz in Austin, TX

For this month's Gazette van Detroit I had the pleasure to talk to Luc Van Braekel. The full interview can be found on my page  and makes a very interesting read.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The best of both worlds

The last couple of months I have been posting and blogging about how much I like my new life, my new surroundings and most of all being with my two boys every day. I am happier than I have ever been before, but of course there are (minor) downsides to this 'adventure'. I have not yet been communicating too much about those - except lately about the brutal Chicago winter maybe - because I did not want to seem ungrateful let alone bother you with the smallest of worries I sometimes have.

But yes, I admit: there were, still are and probably always will arise doubts, when I think about the impact of moving away from my family and friends for example, and more importantly moving my precious little boy away from a big part of his family. But then I look at him, I look at the three of us, and I am so happy that I didn't let fear of the - partly - unknown stop me. It wasn't easy to do this, although some people might think I didn't consider the feelings of those 'left behind'. They couldn't be further from the truth actually. I have always had my son's best interest in mind. And it really starts to look like I have made the right decision.

Take school: a major part of León's social life.  I remember our first weeks in Chicago. We had to drop off León at school every morning and those ten minutes of trying to say goodbye to him broke my heart. Every day. But now he barely takes the time to give us a hug or kiss when he sees his friends and teachers in the morning.  Before we moved here, he barely spoke ten words of English, now he is close to being perfectly bilingual. And on top of that his Spanish teacher told me he is doing great in her class as well.

As far as the moving away from family and friends part is concerned : we have the weekly Skype sessions which allow us to stay in touch with them, and of course we will keep on visiting Belgium. * But still I can imagine it being difficult for those who are still there, and from time to time for León as well. I am convinced however that the current situation is much better for him, he is growing up in a very stable environment.
What I have always seen as the biggest advantage of moving here, for him, is the 'best of both worlds' part. Thanks to attending Dutch class at Tul(i)p School every Saturday and of course speaking Dutch at home, he will never lose touch with his mother tongue. As a family we are also involved in several Belgian-American clubs, so he has plenty of opportunity to socialise with Dutch, Belgian and American kids. Thanks to all of this, he will grow up a very open minded young man that we will always be very very proud of!

As far as my own worries are concerned: I have been feeling a little 'lost' between my Belgian and my American life, especially professionally. I am working for Belgian media in the US and am on a visa which does not allow me to do anything else professionally here in Chicago. This has gotten me worried several times, but now I realise I should really enjoy all the perks of staying in touch with my home country while being where I want to be, with the people I want to be with most. Of course I miss my family and friends, and of course I sometimes panic about certain things, but who doesn't? I used to panic a lot in Belgium too, by the way, I guess it simply is my nature, I can be a bit of a control freak. But now I realise I have not only found the love of my life, but I have also moved to one of the most interesting cities in the world. This is a fantastic way of taking my media career to a new level, as well as exploring new professional opportunities. I just need to give it some time and everything will be fine. No: everything will be great. I can feel that more than ever.

I can only come to one conclusion: coming here is the best decision I have ever made. And from now on I promise to embrace the best of both worlds. This is something only a small minority of us are able to do in this short but oh so precious lifetime.

* And of course everybody is welcome to visit us here in Chicago - this really is a great city. You may prefer to visit during spring or summer though. Did I tell you winters tend to be brutal here? :-)

Special thanks to fellow Belgian blogger in Chicago Ine for giving me what may have been the final push towards realising that I have absolutely no major worries in my life. Very much appreciated girl!