Mark Dunstan, pictured, says newcomers should mix as much as possible to settle in
Like so many other expats living in Luxembourg, Mark Dunstan came to this small country many years ago intending to stay only a short while.
In 1987, he was a young lawyer in Australia who wanted to experience a bit of travel and fun before digging into the corporate grind. A traineeship in the grand duchy turned into a job, a marriage, a family and, over 31 years, a home away from home.
Today, Mark experiences Australia as a series of snapshots--three visits home a year--and this allows him to see contrasts there with a sharper focus. “I see the economic and political changes more clearly.” Asked why he chose to stay, Mark points to the multicultural environment here that has made working and raising children a uniquely rich experience. “I think Luxembourg makes more of an effort to come to me than I make to come to it,” he says. “Everyone speaks multiple languages. And there’s a lack of aggressive nationalism. People who come across the border are not prejudged. Luxembourgers are very welcoming to outsiders.”
One of the challenges of living in such an agile and dynamic culture is that people come and go frequently. You know someone, their contract runs out, and they head off to New York or Zurich or Oslo. For Mark, manning the Australia booth at the Bazar International has provided comforting consistency. He volunteered in the late 1980s selling T-shirts, boomerangs and stuffed koalas and later expanded to craft wines. This will be his 25th year working the event. He’s made many friends and seen many move away. “The bazaar stays the same,” he says. “I’m the last man standing.”
Mark’s advice to newcomers is to mix as much as possible: join clubs, play tennis, learn salsa. “In a big town, contacts find their way to you, not so in here. Luxembourg is small and so you have to make an effort to break into the social culture. It pays off in spades though. I used to hang around sports bars looking for friends,” he says wryly. “It took more than 10 years to get rid of some of them.”
The 58th edition of this popular expat tradition takes place on 8-9 December at Luxexpo. More than 60 stands and 1,500 volunteers from all over the world will offer arts, crafts, food and more. The Australia stand will sell wine from craft wineries, among other things.