Well, somebody had to write it. So City Savvy’s Sarita Rao, who has been here four years, tells us just why she has gone NATIVE.
You know you’ve been in Luxembourg too long when…
1. You drive. Everywhere.
Public transport here isn’t bad, but it ain’t great, and when you live in a country where a tank of gas costs less than 50 Euros and parking is cheap, it’s tempting to just jump in and drive to see a friend, pop to the shops or go to the cinema.
Note to environmentalists: although we used public transport in London, we flew everywhere for holidays. Over here we drive to Germany, France, Spain and even Croatia for vacations, so I am pretty sure our carbon footprint is lower.
2. You apologise for ‘only’ speaking one language
It’s fairly standard for Luxembourgers and internationals to speak at least three languages. As well as the official Luxembourgish, French and German, many nationals speak English and Portuguese.
This could make you feel totally inadequate but Luxembourgers are notoriously magnanimous about accommodating the differing linguistic needs of their expat population (by which I mean trying to understand terrible French or German). Thank goodness for them. I have actually managed to get a dishwasher repaired, put on winter tyres and survived a couple of contrôle techniques in my appalling French.
3. It just ain’t a festival without Crémant
…or indeed Mettwurst, frites or Bofferding. The festival might consist of two tents selling candles, but you can bet your last Euro there’ll be a busload of people eating sausages and drinking beer or quaffing Crémant.
4. Everybody knows your name
Just like the bar in Cheers, you are sure to find someone you know (even vaguely) at any event you attend. In fact Luxembourg is probably the only country where six degrees of separation is a degree or two too many.
At times you can miss the anonymity – but that’s what weekends away in Belgium, France and Germany are for. But on the whole, it’s easy to settle into a life shared with good new friends in the Duchy.
5. You say ‘gromperen’ instead of potatoes or pommes de terres
The only word that I use without thinking. Why? OK, draw a face on a potato and see which name suits it most.
6. There are NO health and safety rules
My kids have been to science, nature and even art festivals; there are no health and safety rules in these places. I’ve seen sharp swords, axes, even nitroglycerine flying about, dangerously close to my cherubs. And you know what, I LOVE IT. Britain is so health and safety conscious that kids can’t fart without needing a permit. Kudos to Luxembourg for backing off and letting kids get involved.
7. You thank (insert deity) that almost every window has shutters
Oh yes, if you have kids under 10 who won’t go to sleep. I dread going back home or on holiday to find all that sunshine streaming through the windows at 6am or 10pm. Whoever decided to put shutters on just about every house in Luxembourg should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for family sanity.
8. You accept that your neighbours speak Luxembourgish, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Slovakian, Croatian, Romanian…
… that’s the point. I live in a tiny, tiny global village and all these languages fill the path that joins our back gardens.
9. Your supermarket shop involves crossing a border
‘Just popping to the shops, dear’ takes on a new resonance when that shop is in Germany, France or Belgium. Luxembourgers think nothing of country-hopping for their bargain shopping. It also means you can combine the weekly supermarket haul with a nice day out to a castle! And if you really miss home brands, well Marks & Spencers, Next and Asda George all deliver clothes to Luxembourg.
10. You can’t imagine living anywhere else
You watch another beautiful sunset from your back garden or balcony, drive through lush green forests and tall ears of corn, and go to bed to the sound of crickets not police sirens. Would I swap back London for Luxembourg – no way!