Paul Theroux, a famous American travel writer and novelist, once wrote : “You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back”. He was right : spending a long time in a foreign country can sometimes be challenging, but it is always a life-changing experience. Luxembourg is one of the most welcoming countries on Earth. Approximately 45 % of its total population is made up of immigrants, mostly from the European Union. Here are 6 steps that will help you feel at home, and even thrive in Luxembourg.
- Step 1: Make the most of your free time
During your first months in Luxembourg, you may be very busy at work, and even at home with the paperwork any newcomer has to take care of. But you must find the time to get to know your new country! If you think your only reason for living in Luxembourg is work, you will miss many amazing experiences. Buy travel books about Luxembourg and surf the web for tips on what to do in your city, but also in the countryside. You will not regret it!
- Step 2: Ask questions
Once you know more about the Grand Duchy, don’t hesitate to show it to the people you meet. One of the best ways to fit in a new culture is to display interest in it. Of course, you will meet a lot of immigrants in Luxembourg. But you will also meet people who were born and raised here and who are proud of their country. When you meet a native Luxembourger, tell them what you have visited, and ask them what you should visit next. They will share their knowledge with you and give you precious cultural and touristic advice.
- Step 3: Meet local people, eat local food and visit national attractions
At times, try to focus on what is local. In Luxembourg city, it is easy to find a restaurant that serves international cuisine. You will be able to taste delicious sushi, pizza or Portuguese chicken. But if you want to experience life as a true Luxembourger, you should seek local dishes, such as the Bouneschlupp (a thick soup with pork, potatoes and green beans), F’rll Am Rèisleck (where trout is cooked in Riesling wine) and Gromperekichelcher (a potato snack). During the weekends, visit local landmarks such as the Old Quarter in Luxembourg City (it is a Unesco World Heritage Site), the Bock Cliff and the hiking trails around Berdorf.
- Step 4: Don’t overlook the Luxembourgish language
Officially, there are three official languages in Luxembourg : Luxembourgish, German and French. But in practice, among the citizens of Luxembourg, 77 % have Luxembourgish as their native language. Of course, you will always manage to have a conversation if you speak a little English, a little French and a little German. But from a cultural perspective, it is very important that you don’t undermine the importance of Luxembourgish. Even if you learn just a few words in Luxembourgish, you will be much more accepted by native people, and it will enhance your global experience of this country.
- Step 5: Learn Luxembourgish online (or at least try)
Start by learning how to say “Hello” (moien), “Goodbye” (äddi), and “thank you” (villmols merci). It is not a very difficult language, especially if you have the occasion to practice it with native people. You can buy Luxembourgish textbooks online or at a bookstore, and you can watch tutorials and conversation guides online, for example on Youtube. Play these on a Bluetooth speaker at home when you take your shower, when you work out or when you wash the dishes. Repeat the words you hear and try to emulate their pronunciation. It will help you memorize the sounds, the vocabulary and the overall syntax of the Luxembourgish language.
- Step 6: Share your memories of home
Thriving abroad is a matter of balance : you must find the perfect balance between nostalgia and forgetfulness. It is perfectly normal to miss your country, and you should not forget where you come from. But your homesickness should not prevent you from enjoying your new life in Luxembourg. The best way to find this balance is to share your culture with your new friends in Luxembourg. When you feel homesick, invite your new friends over and cook a delicious dinner for them, with typical dishes from your own country. Go to the cinema with them, to see a movie from your country. Share your memories with them, and if you plan a trip home for the holidays, invite one of your new friends to join you!