As most of my (assuredly few) readers know, I’ve been home from Belgium since the end of August of last year. Not by design, mind you, or rather, not by MY design, but by the design of the Almighty Belgian Government of Awful.The story of my failed employment goes something like this:
In June I interviewed for a translation job at a small Belgian company. They were thrilled, since they’d never had an English translator before. In August they reviewed my translation test and offered me a job. At the end of August, I went home, even though my student visa didn’t expire until October, because the airline told me I would have to buy a new ticket if I didn’t use my original one within 12 months, and also because I hadn’t BEEN home since January.
In October, and only after repeated attempts at untangling the Belgian legal system on my part and on the part of the company, they told me they just didn’t think it would be possible to get me a work visa. The reason why is something like this:
Belgium has a list of professions for which there are a shortage of qualified workers. These professions include engineers and secondary school teachers, among others. “Translator” (vertaler/traducteur) is not on that list. As a foreigner trying to work at a Belgian company, you can only get a job if the job in question belongs to one of those professions, AND the company has already tried unsuccessfully to find qualified people living in Belgium, AND the king has had a beer after work, AND it’s a day not ending in “y”.
Which seems, IMHO, like something the company should have found out before offering me a job. If they had done so, I’d’ve accepted the project management internship I was offered by a different company before I even interviewed with the other one, even though it wasn’t an ideal position, just to have something in my field that paid enough to live on and allowed me to stay in Belgium.
Anyway, I’m still doing some freelance work for them and for the translation technologies company I worked for over the summer, which I enjoy very much, and freelancing as a writer and editor on a site I’ve been using since 2012 (if you’re ever on Fiverr, I’m word_girl23), but it’s not enough to pay the bills, so, in December, when I was offered a job as an Assistant Teacher at a local Catholic preschool, I took it.
They’re cute kids. I teach them Spanish once a week–this week’s theme is Trains. In fact, since the Belgian job didn’t work out, I’m thinking of teaching English in Spain next school year, and just finished my application to the Auxiliares Program.
The Auxiliares Program is a cooperative between the Spanish government and US/Canadian governments wherein North Americans can live and teach English or French in Spain for a year. I learned about it through a friend of mine who’s in the middle of her second year teaching in Madrid, and loving it.
Popular opinion is rather divided regarding the program, and research suggests people either love it
Or hate it
Or, as you can see from the above, both.
The first time I ever taught English was in Salamanca, at the Colegio Maria Auxiliadora, that semester I met My Personal Francophone, and I loved it. I loved how excited the kids were about learning a new language and asking all kinds of questions about life in America. I loved being able to share my culture with them, and use a skill I didn’t know I had. If I am accepted into this program, I will be a very lucky Schtroumphette indeed (assuming I don’t find some loophole or American company to get me back to Magical Fantasy Land of course, but then, in Flemish and French, no days end in “Y”. So woman plans, God laughs, woman makes alternate plan…).
Anyway, this is just to say that I am alive and well, and still applying for jobs abroad…and also, My Personal Francophone is (finally) coming to visit on Wednesday! Please pray that the weather stays good for his flight–my family is looking forward to spending some quality time with him, as well, and I need my waffles and chocolate fix (and, you know, a date night or two). Please pray for us, and for me, that somehow I’ll be able to realize my dream of going back to Europe.
Here’s a picture of my old apartment in Antwerp. Drafty and creaky though it was, I’m feeling nostalgic, so, for old times’ sake…