I haven’t really written much since I got back to Belgium. I could lie and say I’ve been busy, but that’s not really the case. My days consist of going to my Dutch classes in the morning and then sitting around my apartment (or walking around Ghent, if the weather is nice) in the afternoon.
Adjusting to being back in Belgium was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be, for a few reasons. First, I came here on a tourist visa this time — Joery and I are working on getting a visa based on our relationship, but so far we’ve only managed to register as a cohabitating couple and have the police check to make sure I really live where I say I live — so my legal status here is different. Legally, I can’t work, since tourists can’t get a work permit, so I can’t look for a job or anything to do to fill my time. And since I don’t know when my visa will finally be processed, I can’t really even start looking for work yet. Also, while the Dutch classes are pretty intensive, it’s different from being a full-time student working on a degree. At this point, I still can’t speak Dutch so well (I’ll admit, a lot of my problems lie with my need to say everything perfectly the first time and getting embarrassed when I mess up), making it hard to see how useful the courses have been so far.
So while in my mind I know learning Dutch is a worthwhile way to spend my time — after all, I’ve been here long enough and, frankly, what else can I do? — I’m at the point in my life where I want to move forward, find a job, and make a little bit of money. Since I’m not able to do that at this point in time, I kind of feel stuck in a kind of limbo of sorts.
Also, being home for such a long time makes you realize how much of the day-to-day life of family and friends you’re missing by being so far away. In my mind I know I wouldn’t be very happy moving back to my hometown — the main employers there are resorts and casinos, not really my dream career path — but the sting of missing friends and family is still strong. Particularly when it comes to my nephews, who are still quite young and changing quite a bit on a daily basis. The most heartbreaking moment since I’ve been back is trying to explain to my 3-year-old nephew via webcam why I can’t come home any time soon.
And while I love the city of Ghent, for the last two years the majority of my friends and social life was in Leuven. Getting used to a new city, establishing a solid social life here, takes time.
So I’ve been struggling with a bit of homesickness and the ever-present question of what-am-I-doing-with-my-life? But things are looking up. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I figure I’m only 25, after all, and there’s still time.
Hopefully, though, I’ll be writing on a more regular basis. Now that the weather is warming up (a bit), I plan on filling my days with more than class and lounging around the apartment.