Insights •Expat Corner• 04.01.2018 • Presented by Simône Van Schouwenburg – Business Development ing Expat Services.
As an expat, and especially if you are a non-EU citizen, the adaptation and integration in Luxembourg can be complicated. The language and culture barriers and paperwork are sometimes tricky obstacles to overcome.
In Luxembourg, there is a great mix of nationalities and cultures in the Grand Duchy. On 1 January 2017, Luxembourg has 590 667 inhabitants, almost half of them (47.7%) are foreigners.
In Luxembourg City, they even represent the great majority of the population (70.7%). On top of this, around 167 000 German, Belgian and French employees cross the border every working day. All in all, some 170 different nationalities are living together within a small territory of 2 588 km2.
The (dis)advantages of being a multicultural country
This multicultural situation is particularly advantageous for new expats: nowadays, there are so many foreigners’ associations and communities in Luxembourg that you will certainly find the one corresponding to your nationality and ready to help1. But it may also constitute a disadvantage because the temptation is great to spend time only with other expats, speak only your native language and eat only foods from home. According to the fourth edition of the annual report on host countries “Expat Insider 2017”2, expats in Luxembourg are unlikely to have local friends, with 68% of respondents saying their friends are mostly other expats. Of course, there is no shame seeking familiarity when you first arrive but, as time passes and you settle in, you can make more of an effort to integrate with local culture. Here are some tips for poking the expat bubble.
First of all, there are a number of bodies and associations supporting foreigners in Luxembourg. Here are the main ones. The Luxembourg Reception and Integration Agency (Office luxembourgeois de l’accueil et de l’intégration, OLAI)3, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Family and Integration, offers to sign a Welcome and Integration Contract (Contrat d’accueil et d’intégration, CAI) to every foreigner who resides legally in the country and wishes to remain on a permanent basis. This innovative tool provides language and citizenship training courses and an orientation day. The Association for the support of migrant workers (Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés, ASTI)4, a non-governmental organisation, gives advice to people with problems regarding work permits, residence permits, visas, etc. The welcoming association Luxembourg Accueil Information5 aims to facilitate integration in the Grand Duchy via cultural, artistic and sporting activities.
artistic and sporting activities. The associative platform Liaison Committee of Foreigners’ Associations (Comité de liaison des associations d’étrangers, CLAE)6 organises, among other things, cultural events, communication activities and social and cultural mediation projects.
A plenty of opportunities to explore
Making friends at work is the easiest way to be integrated but there are plenty of other opportunities to explore. You can meet new people by doing professional networking – in Luxembourg, almost every profession has its own association! - or by volunteering for a local NGO. An exhaustive list of the NGOs registered in the country is available on the website of the Luxembourgish government7. If you are a sport freak, there is a wealth of exercise facilities in Luxembourg. If you are a night owl, the nightlife offer in Luxembourg City has increased dramatically, through the opening of new bars, cafes and nightclubs, an ever-increasing crowd of nightlife lovers and the creation of new nightlife centres in the capital.
Think local and don’t miss any occasion to interact with your neighbours: participate in local events, visit local markets and, if you have children, find an activity with local children or at school where they can be involved as well. And even if English is more and more used in Luxembourg, especially in the capital, try to learn Luxembourgish. If you just learn a few words and expressions, this can go a long way in helping you begin to talk to the locals. They’ll really appreciate your efforts.
Last but not least, get out of your comfort zone by participating at social and networking events organised by clubs, groups, communities or companies. By doing so, you will exchange your experience with others and chat with a lot of people. There are so many opportunities that you could participate at a social event almost every working day in Luxemburg City if you want to (and if you are well-informed!). And why not trying Delano Live? Since October 2017, each edition of Delano Live features live-on-stage interviews in English with people and on topics covered by Delano Magazine, but with a fresh perspective, and is followed by an extended open bar and quality people all around!