Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life in Lux: My Observations After Three Months

After three months in Luxembourg, I can say with sincerity that we love it here. Here are some of my personal observations about Life in Lux:
  • I need some leather pants for school pick up. Or at least some coated denim.
  • I've seen more Bentleys in the last 12 weeks than I have in the last 12 years. A quarter of Lux's population are millionaires.
  • Everyone speaks English. Let me expound on that. Everyone speaks as much English as I speak French. So in other words, to live here comfortably, you really need to learn French. 
  • Navigating the medical community is fascinating and confusing (some of which is simply due to language barrier). It's every bit as respectable as anything I'm used to in the States (and Lux's system is highly regarded throughout Europe), but completely different. I carry my own medical files. I show up for appointments with absolutely no idea of who I'm seeing or why. I pay cash on the spot. My c-section is tomorrow and I still don't know what time it will be. Almost all doctors and nurses go on scheduled vacations at the exact same time, which is the entire month of August and the week of fall break. This just happens to be the seven days leading up to my delivery date; I suppose there's a skeleton crew around to deliver babies and set broken bones. And lastly, there is no such thing as modesty. Do not expect a robe or a gentle "knock knock" at the door to see if you're ready. Better get used to stripping down while talking to your doctor, then padding from sonogram table to examination table, then back to the "changing room" (which is hardly private) with everything hanging out. Word of advice: Act natural. (Right). And make sure to take your socks off before your skinny jeans (in particular if you're nine months pregnant and can hardly bend over) so you don't get tangled and caught with your bum in the air. Not that that happened to me.
  • I do not miss peanut butter. I don't miss Betty Crocker. There are hardly any American food "staples" we miss because we really didn't eat Pop Tarts or Apple Jacks to begin with. But coffee. Oh my gosh, what I wouldn't do to pop a Vanilla K-cup in my Keurig for a fabulous cup of watery, artificially-flavored, non-espresso, American coffee. I'm a total coffee wimp.
  • It might be years before I go through an entire day without at least one significantly-humbling moment. For example, not knowing how to get the parking garage meter to spit out my ticket and raise the gate as cars pile up behind me. It was high tech and I didn't understand the French instructions on the machine. I was too pregnant to open my car door to slide out for help (that ship passed about four months ago), and I was unable to back the car up. Trapped. So I sat there and waited patiently for the situation to finally get bad enough that the friendly attendant ran over to me. And I do mean friendly. He was all smiles. Which leads me to my next observation....
  • Almost everyone here is nice. Really really nice! (Except if your three-year-old is riding a push toy in a fancy toy boutique. Then cue the disapproving glares).
  • You can find most food items somewhere, but that doesn't mean they won't require some hunting. If you need something specific, it's best to post on the American Women's Club of Luxembourg's facebook group of 192 members to ask where someone else may have found black beans or vanilla extract. Within minutes, there will be ten responses. For this reason, I have only attempted a Pinterest recipe once. And I substituted several ingredients.
  • The men dress immaculately for work. Big scarves wrapped around their necks like they're in a Gucci ad, 500 Euro shoes, tailored suits on their petite frames, blazers with elbow patches, designer jeans.
  • And the women too.... Gorgeous boucle jackets and slimmer-than-slim pants with a fabulous designer bag. Even the frumpy ones are wearing four-inch suede heels to bag their carrots at the grocery store.
  • Despite being foreign, life here feels pretty easy. The community is tiny (the entire country of Luxembourg is the same size as the city of Milwaukee), and everyone in the expat community is eager to help and be fast friends. And every day will get easier and more familiar...

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