the first week in Ghent

October 23, 2013 · 6 comments

in Belgium, ramblings

We moved into our new house the day we arrived. Farrell had found it on the last day of our pre-US Ghent trip, and I was seeing it for the first time. I liked what I saw. From what our friends told us, furnished houses to rent are rare, but luckily this one came with enough furniture and housewares that we’ve been pretty comfortable while we’re waiting for all of our stuff to arrive from Bishkek and the US.

I’m swinging back and forth between wanting to hide out in the house, overwhelmed by yet another new country where I don’t know the language, and a more cavalier attitude; I’ve done this expat thing before, and besides, it’s Belgium, it must be way easier to get around than in Bishkek.

I’ve attempted to go out nearly everyday since we arrived, on my own since Farrell started his new job immediately, even if I just make it to the grocery store. I forgot how many ingredients it takes to have a well-stocked kitchen. I’ve gotten lost several times, I’ve run the stroller off the sides of the tiny sidewalks and into the cobblestone streets on more than a few occasions, and mostly stuck to the same route when I’ve had to go to the center of town. It’s probably not the most efficient way, but it’s the only way I know for now.

I’m hesitant to share many of my observations on life in Ghent yet, because if there is one thing I’ve learned from my history of moving around, it’s that my initial observations are usually pretty lame. For example, I could make some sweeping generalization about the country based on the fact that I haven’t been able to find outlet covers in five different stores (the nerve! how’s a girl supposed to baby-proof?). Or I could tell you all about how micro-managed the garbage collection is. Or I could write about the (probably unnecessary) stress I feel when I’m walking through the park with Darwin, worried that I’m inadvertently taking up space on a bike path.

I’m looking forward to settling into Ghent. Right now, literally at this very moment, things are calm, but I know over the next few weeks there will be a lot to take care of. Registering as a resident of Ghent, which will allow me to open a bank account and buy a sim card; receiving all our shipments from the US and Bishkek, which will mean days/weeks of unpacking and organizing; scouring secondhand sites and Ikea for any remaining furniture needs, which will mean a real room for Darwin; sleep training, which will mean more sleep for all of us… eventually.

I always forget about this part, the mile-long to-do list (or should I say, the kilometer-long to-do list), walking the same route because it’s the only one I know, avoiding speaking at all costs so I don’t giveaway that I’m a foreigner (which isn’t a bad thing, I guess, I’m just embarrassed that I don’t know any Dutch), improvising dinner at the last minute because even though I bought ingredients for tomato sauce, I forgot to buy a can opener.

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for months. The next step, the final move (for a while, anyway). Farrell was hired in July, we left Bishkek in August, planned to arrive in Ghent near the end of September, overestimated the time we’d need to sort out paperwork, traveled across so much of the US, and finally arrived just eight days ago. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, mentally rearranging furniture and stocking cabinets of a house I had never seen, waiting for the day when there wasn’t a big move on the immediate horizon.

Now we’re here and there’s a lot of work to do to dig in and find my groove. I know it’s close, I can see the endpoint of how I’d like the house to be, how I want my days to flow. It’s so close, but there are a lot of steps between here and there. Let’s hope we get there soon though.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela October 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I can totally teach you some Dutch and if I’m ever coming to Ghent, you can show me around because you’ll be a local by then! Have fun, enjoy and don’t worry.

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2 Kirstin December 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I would gladly accept any help with Dutch!

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3 Maxim October 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Welcome to Ghent,

We have been in contact before. My mother is Kyrgyz and my dad Flemish. Myself I live in Brussels.
I can imagine the initial impression of Ghent for a newly arrived expat must be overwhelming.

Personally I’m not too familiar with Ghent, only have a couple of friends there, but I can tell you the town has the nicest bars and restaurants I know of. They know how to party. The town also has (too) many hipster people. For an expat this should be funny though.
But each time I am in Ghent I am amazed by the beauty of the building there. I simply can’t stop pushin the shoot button on my camera. I hope you’ll enjoy it too in due time.

take care, if you need info don’t hesitate. If you feel homesick I might tell you about some Kyrgyz parties in Belgium ;)

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4 Kirstin December 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Oh man I have seen a ton of hipsters all over Belgium so far, but yeah I’m definitely enjoying life here in Ghent so far. Let me know if you’re ever in town and we can finally meet up!

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5 Jennifer Robnett November 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

GOOOOOO STYERS FAMILY!!!!!!!

Remember, the first world President is your son. If you feel awkward & lost in public, don’t worry: Darwin’s natural charisma & authority will keep aggressors at bay. It won’t be long until his face is printed on the Euro.

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6 Kirstin December 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Darwin’s natural tendency to have a full-on meltdown in public will keep aggressors at bay.

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