Friday, May 24, 2013

The Waiting Game

Home is where your heart is - Part 2

So what have I been doing with all the free time?

At first I thought I would focus on learning Dutch and exercising. I couldn’t apply for a job just yet and I would use these months to learn as much as possible. Everyone leaves for work in the morning and I spend my days alone. I’m ok with that, I even enjoy it.

I used to look for workout videos, move around the living room, take a shower and start studying. I found a book called “Curso básico de Neerlandês”, which is a self-study book for Portuguese speakers and it helped a lot with the basics; I watched tv in Dutch, especially cartoons and cooking shows; I listened to some music in Dutch and I read comic books like Suske en Wiske and Kuifje (Tintin). Sometimes I feel tired and frustrated and I give up, thinking that I will never be able to speak this language. Then I realize how much more I understand now and I’m sure speaking will naturally come. Eventually. 

Even though I have to wait for the Visa to be allowed to work, I have been searching for jobs. I want to know what opportunities are out there and what my chances are. I made a list of places I am interested in and I keep following their news online – language schools, study abroad organizations, Brazilian government organizations. I really hope I can find something good according to my skills and experience, but it’s frustrating that I am not a native English speaker (as most schools require) and that I am not fluent in French and Dutch yet.

During this search I found an association for English teachers in Belgium and became a member and volunteer. It keeps me informed about any TEFL event and it hosts webinars and workshops. It’s great to meet people and network. I have attended a couple of events and even wrote a review for their blog.

Speaking of networking, I started volunteering for a Brazilian association that teaches language and culture to children. Some of them were born here and others came from Brazil with their families. They offer workshops every Wednesday and Saturday and on school vacations. It’s great to be part of the Brazilian community here in Belgium and see that the kids stay in contact with our language and culture (holidays, festivals, music, arts and crafts, food, etc). It felt so good to get out of the house, be busy and contribute!

One more thing I’ve been doing during the week: reading blogs (about traveling, living abroad, teaching English, online business and other things that interest me), contacting people (email, Facebook, Twitter), asking around and learning. Although things are a bit uncertain now and I can’t really make plans and set dates to them, I have been thinking, writing and preparing for when it’s time to take action. I’m sure I will get a clear picture of what I have to do in my new life as an expat.

Leave a comment or question if you like and share this with a friend who might relate. Cheers! :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Ana Elisa!

How many things in common we have - all of us expats, actually! I have been here in Switzerland for four years almost, but I still remember very strongly the feelings I had when I came here. A great country, but found myself with no job - the school that had accepted me before I arrived, told me upon arrival, they cannot hire me due to the oncoming crisis. So there I was, no job - but looking back on it, it gave me the opportunity to see my strengths and weaknesses, how I could cope in many difficult situations - it was the first time I was unemployed, so I didn't know what to do with myself. Like you, I discovered blogs, associations and other teachers on Twitter (I wasn't on FB then). You get to see how other people have the same problems as you and you find comfort in each other. What I din;tbelieve then, is that it only gets better and it does. I wish you all the very best in Belgium and just to let you know: we are here for each other!

Best wishes,

Ana Elisa Miranda said...

Hi Vicky and thank you for sharing your experience! It's really good to find people who have been through the same and understand. See you on BELTA Day :)

Tiffany Neumeyer said...

Hi Ana Elisa,

So glad to read an update on your adventure! I agree with the last poster: it's amazing how many similar experiences expats share.

I married a German man a few years ago, and even though we are back in the States now, we lived for a bit in Germany. I remember that my two objectives during my time there were exactly the same as yours: exercise regularly and learn German! There were lonely days and tough experiences (for example: any time I had to deal with the Government office on my own!), but things did get easier over time.

To learn, I also did so many of the same things you're doing :) One of my favorite things was to watch cheesy soap operas because the vocabulary was much easier, haha!

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with your job search and your Dutch studies! I'll keep posted to the blog for updates :)

Cheiro de Carinho said...

Oi Ana Elisa,
Navegando em buscas de informações sobre a Bélgica, achei seu blog.
Estou viajando com meu marido para Bélgica em 01/07 vou ficar 02 dias em Brugges já fechamos hotel, porém tenho mais 02 dias antes de retornar para Paris, o que vc indicaria? dormir em Bruxellas as 02 noites ou em Gent? vc pode dar algumas dicas...

Ana Elisa Miranda said...

Hi Tiffany! So glad to receive your comment. It's amazing how much support and comfort we can find in sharing our stories. I know it'll be tough but I'm sure everything will be alright. Thanks for following :)