“I’m going on an adventure!”

Have some pi!One adventure is over. It’s already September and I haven’t made my final blog post here, even though I left Brussels on the first of July. It was difficult to find the words to say. Or rather write. Leaving was one of the hardest and best things at the same time. It was terrible to leave, because the kids had made a nest in my heart and I cried uncontrollably when saying goodbye to them. It was also great to leave because I knew I was starting a new stage of my life, living on my own and with the man I love. It’s going to be a new adventure!

That new stage of life is still under construction. The apartment we’re going to live in needs a LOT of work and Matthijs doesn’t know yet when exactly can he move. In the meanwhile I’m occupied with adapting to university life again. My days are filled with lectures, seminars, getting to know my coursemates and taking part in the media club and robotics club. And if there’s any free time at home that is not filled with doing my physics and maths homework, I practise controlling my computer by voice commands and typing with a different keyboard layout (out with Qwerty, in with Colemak). If all goes well, I’ll have higher education in programming in three years.

I still have to decide what to do with this blog. Should I change the blog name and just do updates on my new life in Estonia? Should I make a new blog about IT-related topics? Or is this the end of blogging in English for a while? I’ll try to figure it out at some point when I have free time again. Goodbye Brussels, welcome Tallinn!

don’t poke the bear!

lonely treeI am a bear. As soon as winter arrives, I crawl in my cave and hibernate, leaving the safety of my room only when I really have to be somewhere else. In my mind, winter associates with silence, cold, emptiness, loneliness and illness. All the worst months of my life have been during wintertime. So it’s no wonder I fell into that pattern even during my year abroad. Snow arrived and suddenly I didn’t want to leave my room or talk to people or blog or do pretty much anything that didn’t involve being curled up in a blanket, drinking tea and watching endless episodes of my current favourite series. Don’t disturb the bear during the hibernating period.

Brussels

As I was cooped up in my attic room, I began to realise that I had reached the breaking point in my au pair life. Every new job seems brilliant in the beginning, you’re eager to go in and tackle everything. At some point you realise that your amazing new job has plenty of flaws you didn’t see at first. I reached that point this year, taking care of Minnie who was ill pretty much all the time and as a result didn’t sleep well. An unslept Minnie meant my workdays changed from minor challenges and going to the playground to a constant battle with a child who was too exhausted to pay any attention to what I was saying or to even care that I was trying to talk to her. Complete mayhem and lots of screaming from a kid protesting against everything. And woah, can that girl scream! Brussels Falling face first onto my bed after an especially bad workday I began wondering how can some people do this for years. I don’t mean the parents, though I have utmost respect for people who raise their kids with patience and care. I mean the au pairs – they are living in the middle of someone else’s family, they are a part of everything that goes on, be it the kids’ illnesses or relationship trouble or family trips or… you get my drift. They are not a part of the family, but they take part. How can some people do it for years? Do they not get a longing for a family of their own, something where they are all-in instead of being with one foot inside a strange family and with the other foot in some weird mixture of their new  personal life in a strange country and the life still waiting in their home country?

dried plants

I’m very grateful for this opportunity and being able to experience a completely new way of life in a new country. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t regret my decision to be an au pair. I just feel that this job has a due date and I’m rapidly moving towards it. I have learned a lot here and had loads of fun. Nevertheless, I can’t shrug this nagging feeling that this is not my family, I’m an outsider and my family is waiting elsewhere. No matter how welcoming the host parents are or how much the kids love you, these are not your people.

garden path

My au pair experience has taught me that I definitely don’t want kids in at least the next four years; I’m not willing to give up such a big chunk of my own personal life for the kids. But it has also made me realise that I really need my own family life now. I don’t mean moving back to my parents’ place, I’m now way past that point. I mean starting a new family. Just me and Matthijs. The kids can follow at some later point when we are both ready for that. I’m not. Not yet. I just want my own tiny family with the man I love and our own private home where we don’t depend on the whims of others.

snowdrops

So now I wait. I still have a bit more than three months left in Brussels and I plan to enjoy that time the best I can. After that it’s time to move back to Estonia, prepare for the university exams (I have decided to start with a master’s degree this autumn) and then get ready for moving once more. I’ll temporarily get back to my parents’ place for another month and a half until Matthijs gets to Tallinn with his belongings and we can start working on the apartment that will be our home for the next few years. I will finally have my own home. I will finally be able to live with Matthijs! By that point we’ll have had 2.5 years of being in a long-distance relationship. About time to put an end to that and start living in the same country. And the same town. And the same apartment. In our own home! I’m so excited!

snowdrops(The photos in this post were taken at the beginning of February. I really thought winter was going to end then – the snow was gone, the snowdrops were showing their beautiful white blooms… but no. There were two more periods of snow after that and we’re facing another one this weekend. Whoever told me Belgium was a warm country with a short winter was lying! Still not as bad as Estonia, but I don’t care. I was promised 15-20°C for March!)

cloudy Brussels and finished room

I am beginning to understand why even people who whine about London being rainy say that Brussels is worse than London. I have been here for a bit more than two weeks and I have seen clear skies once or twice during that time. Usually it’s either dramatic clouds or dramatic clouds with bonus rain. Still, I’m not whining – I’d rather take a lot of rain than a lot of snow.

Every time I go out in Brussels, I find at least one graffiti I haven’t seen before. My latest catch:

This one actually looks so cool that I wouldn’t mind having it on canvas as my room decoration. Too bad I can’t take a proper photo of it though, the fences are so high that someone as short as me can’t get a photo without those. On a slightly related note, it’s rather difficult to find a proper raincoat for someone of my size without paying more than 100€ for it. I already got soaked today, going out with my non-rainproof coat. Thanks, surprise rainfall! I might go back to the skyscrapers district where I found some possible rain protection in stores. If those are too pricy… I guess I have to look through the kiddy stores again. I’m not short, I’m just vertically challenged!

I don’t have much to write about the latest city trip, I mainly went through stores to find stuff for my room. I do have a few photos though, so here you go:

The last photo is a short walk away from my home. It’s a very nice neighbourhood and I know that there should be a street with lots of art nouveau buildings close by. My mission for the next neighbourhood walk is to find that street.

In other news, my room does not look like a temporary crashing place anymore, it has furniture and lights and it looks really cosy now.

welcome to the family

Brussels. It’s my third day here and I like it so far. The main thing is that I got a really warm welcome from my host family. FrenchDad and EstMum (because EstonianMum would be a too long nickname and just mum and dad are reserved for my own parents) even brought out the champagne in the evening when kids were in bed. A proper welcome! The kids seemed to like me from the very beginning as well and they keep calling “tädi-tädi-tädi!” or “tädi Terje!” (auntie Terje) when I’m in another room. Since I do not want to mention the kids’ real names here and they both seem to really like Disney characters, I’ll just call them Mickey and Minnie.

Minnie is three years old, she loves climbing on everything and listening to Adele. The latter can change soon if she finds new music to love, but her climbing addiction is likely to stay with her for life. Mickey is two years younger than Minnie, he loves playing with the vacuum cleaner and drooling on everything. Tomorrow I’ll have to stay home alone with them both for the first time, hopefully everything will work out fine. I already spent a few hours with Mickey yesterday and he only cried for mummy for a few minutes, after that he showed me the doll dishes and pretended to eat from them.

Minnie is super-active. I will probably get my daily needed physical activity just from picking her up from the kindergarten, she runs and climbs and keeping up with her is a challenge when I have Mickey with me. Fortunately Minnie has learned pretty well that she is not allowed to cross the street on her own, otherwise this would get dangerous. Talking to the kids is easy, I can just use my own mother tongue. The most French they use when talking to me is usually just small random words like “d’accord!” or “encore!”.

I’m living in the family house, so commuting to work takes about 30 seconds. The time can be shortened once I learn to climb the steep attic stairs without fearing for my life. The entire attic floor is one big room and that’s my domain. It’s still rather empty, but today someone is supposed to come over to see whether they can install heating here (and if not, an electric radiator will be bought) and on Saturday we’ll go to Ikea to pick up some essentials like a desk / table, garbage bin and a chest for my blanket and pillows so I could morph the bed into a couch for the day.

I now also own a Belgian number, so if anyone feels the need to have it, give me a shout. I have no idea how expensive texts will be, but at least I can talk an hour for free every month. And for those who are curious what my room looks like, I took a sneak peek photo of the most cosy-looking corner. Of course it will look a lot better once I have more furniture and perhaps a carpet or two.