Expat Voices: Libby on living in Walferdange

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Moving to Luxembourg has taught American Libby the importance of putting yourself out there and meeting people. Don't be shy, expats, and connect!

Name: Libby
Nationality: American
City of residence: Walferdange, Luxembourg
Civil status: Married
Occupation: A German teacher by trade; currently working for an investment fund.
Reason for moving to Luxembourg: My husband got offered a job in Luxembourg and we decided to go for it!
Lived in Luxembourg for: 1 year, 10 months

What was your first impression of Luxembourg?
We had visited friends in Luxembourg before we knew we were going to live here someday, so our first impression was very objective – a beautiful, quaint, clean city with a lot of fancy cars on the road…which, now that I think of it, is pretty much the same opinion I have of it now!

 Neumünster Abbey, Grund district

What do you think of the food?
Honestly, I’ve only eaten real Luxembourgish food once, so I can’t really give a qualified opinion. Eating in Luxembourg is hard to summarise…on the one hand, Luxembourg has a lot of fancy restaurants that have fine cuisine, but I find them too expensive to visit often and consider them a bit too pretentious for my taste. On the other hand, it has a wide variety of international restaurants, and it’s nice to try new things.

Sometimes I miss ‘normal’ restaurants, where you can sit down and pay ‘normal’ prices for ‘normal’ food, but Germany’s just a quick drive away. (And what is ‘normal’, after all?)  And one of my favourite things about Luxembourg is that it has Pizza Hut! It tastes just like home!

It’s taken us a while, but we’re really starting to discover our favourite restaurants here. There’s a great Chinese restaurant in Walferdange (Regent) and I recently discovered Edelwyss in Kopstal – simply amazing! (And for those of you who haven’t learned French or German yet, the owner of Edelwyss speaks perfect English. He’s a big fan of the States.)

What do you think of the shopping in Luxembourg?
I have to admit that I do most of my shopping in Germany. It’s much less expensive and there are large department stores and shopping centres.

Luxembourg can’t be beat in terms of grocery shopping, though. It gets products from France, Belgium, Germany, and has the biggest selection of exotic foods that I’ve ever seen. The first time we visited Auchan, we were completely awestruck! And Little Britain is great for when I’m feeling homesick…

What do you appreciate about living in Luxembourg?
I love the fact that you can go anywhere in Luxembourg and feel completely safe. It’s something you quickly learn to take for granted. The public transportation system is also inexpensive and convenient; the city is clean and beautiful. It’s almost like living in a fairy tale land sometimes!

Vianden, Luxembourg

What do you find most frustrating about living in Luxembourg?
Definitely the language barrier. When we moved here, we were told that everyone spoke German and English. That’s not so – you definitely need French to order in restaurants, go to the hairdresser, talk to people on the street, etc. It’s very frustrating to not be able to say what you want. I’ve made a lot of progress with my French, but it’s slow-going.

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to say something more than just “I want this” or “I want that”, but rather “nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?” or “I love those shoes!” It’s no fun to be nervous when you want to ask for help in a store, or do simple things like getting your nails done. But it does get easier if you stick with it.

What puzzles you about Luxembourg and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I find that Luxembourg can be a bit impersonal at times. I think it’s partially a language thing, because so many different languages are spoken that you’re always a bit uncertain about how to approach someone new. But I think there’s also a certain 'here today, gone tomorrow' attitude that makes it hard to establish roots.

A lot of people don’t plan on staying in Luxembourg for long (i.e. they’re here for a limited period of time for work), so they spend a lot of time travelling. A lot of other people commute from the surrounding countries and return home in the evenings and on the weekends.  Obviously there’s nothing wrong with either of those choices, but it does make it a bit more difficult to build a personal foundation where you feel ‘at home’.

What I miss from the States – wide open spaces, big parking spots, and American football. What I miss from Germany – the food, cheap fresh flowers, and our friends, of course!

How does the quality of life in Luxembourg compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
By any standards, Luxembourg has an extremely high quality of life. It has beautiful parks and scenery, it’s clean, safe, and affluent, and it has great healthcare and social benefits. I just wish it would get a little more sunshine and a lot less rain!

If you could change anything about Luxembourg, what would it be?
That’s easy – I would cut the cost of rent in half and I would open a Starbucks.

What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Luxembourg has an amazing number of clubs and organisations considering its small size, and you should definitely find something to join right away! Then, don’t stand back and wait for someone to approach you…take a risk and introduce yourself! You’ll be amazed at the results…usually the other person is relieved that you approached them and they’re there to meet new people too.

I had never learned this lesson until I moved here, and I’m awfully glad that I did – I’ve met a lot of great friends that way. Keep in mind that a lot of people in Luxembourg are expats who are also looking for friends – you’re never alone!


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