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Ambassador Portrait: Claudia, From Austria

1. Claudia, how come you decided to move to Luxembourg?

I moved to Luxembourg because of my Luxembourgish partner. We got to know each other in Austria. He studied there, like so many Luxembourgers, and I was back home visiting my family because at that time I lived in Berlin. My boyfriend has always wanted to move back to Luxembourg because he loves how international Luxembourg is and because of all the opportunities.

2. How did you prepare to move to Luxembourg, anything you could have done differently?

Long before I actually moved to Luxembourg I often came here to visit. When we were here my boyfriend took me to such beautiful places like Vianden. Also, one of his friends, who knows a lot about Luxembourg’s history, gave me a private guided tour through the casemates and the city centre. What I could have done differently is that I should maybe have started earlier to improve my French skills. It’s really very important here to know French, although almost everybody also speaks German.

3. Your partner is from Luxembourg and he decided to buy an apartment, however, do you have any recommendations to share in terms of housing and where to live in Luxembourg?

I guess, that depends on your character and maybe your family situation. I wanted to live in the city because I wanted to be close to some events going on etc. and I don’t like driving. However, the train connections in Luxembourg are good and cheap so I could also image one day to move to a smaller town like Diekirch where it’s easier to afford a house with a garden. When we looked for a flat to buy or rent, we mainly checked where you can find almost all the offers. And what also always helps is to tell as many people as possible that you’re looking for a place to live. As in Austria, a lot here happens through contacts.

4. Did you have to bring any special documents etc.?

No, but my partner and I decided for several reasons to do a PACS. With the PACS, for example, I’m health insured through my partner. It’s very unbureaucratic to do a PACS. You just take a rendez-vous at the commune, they will tell you which paperwork to hand in and then you go there with your partner and sign. Be careful, at the end of the year it could take a few weeks to get a rendez-vous because many couples want to do a PACS just before the end of the year because it will help them to save taxes for the next calendar year.

5. Was there anything you had to apply for in Austria and to give to the Luxembourgish authorities?

Yes, I had to deregister from the Austrian social insurance in order to get the child allowance in Luxembourg. As I was on maternity leave that was a bit more complicated than if I just had had to quit a job. If you quit your job in order to come to Luxembourg (and don’t have a job yet here), be sure to register at the Austrian Arbeitsmarktservice. Because then your case can be transferred to ADEM and you will be entitled to unemployment benefits in Luxembourg.

6. How did you decide to which crèche you wanted to send your daughter?

We wanted to send our daughter to a public crèche because we also wanted her to learn Luxembourgish and we only speak English and German at home. So, we put our names on the waiting list and visited several places. We were very lucky to get a place at a Crèche municipale which is just a one-minute walk from our flat and our daughter is very happy there. They have a large garden, the staff is extremely nice and I can identify myself with the guidelines which they follow. If you want to register your child with a public crèche, you will have to apply for a chèque-service. Information about this process can be obtained at the local commune or in Luxembourg city on the city’s homepage. 

7. What would you say is a good way to meet people and which activities do you do in order to integrate into Luxemburgish society?

My partner’s Luxembourgish friends have been very welcoming. Otherwise, I go to a Luxembourgish conversation group once a week and I go to different sports classes which are part of the Sports pour Tous programme. And there are so many people from all over the world here in Luxembourg that you can easily connect with someone if you’re just open-minded and don’t shy away from starting a conversation.

8. You have now been here for three months, what’s your overall impression?

My boyfriend was right. It’s really a very international place. For example the atmosphere at the Festival de Migrations which takes place every spring was really great. All sorts of food, exotic music, so many different communities from all over the world – I never expected to see all this in such a small country. And what I also like is that Luxembourg is so green. It just takes a few minutes to reach a place without any cars where you can relax or do sports, for example the Grund or the Bambësch area. 

9. Any last recommendations that you find valuable for newcomers?

Start early enough to organise your language courses. For example at the Institut National des Langues, it’s only possible to start a course twice a year and you have to register months in advance. And join some groups on Facebook like the Luxembourg Expats or Luxmama Club or whatever corresponds to your interests or like the Facebook page of your embassy – they will keep you up to date regarding your Expat community. I also like the free monthly English/French City magazine, it gives you a first impression of the city and what’s going on here.

Interview by Ninnie Ostman,
Swedish Ambassador for the Just Arrived Ambassadors Club