Our two largest cities, Brussels and Antwerp, are the only two Belgian cities to feature among Europe’s top 50 economic centres. Brussels is our major gateway for international finance, investment and institutions, while Antwerp is our major port city with specialisms in logistics, manufacturing, diamonds, retail and business services. Each have their own unique strengths, but how do they compete on a global scale? And what exactly is it that makes a city competitive?
Open your Facebook newsfeed and there is no escaping the heartfelt calls to ‘say no to single-use plastics’, tear jerking ‘save the orangutan’ petitions, awe-inspiring videos of cities of the future and mouthwatering meat-free Monday recipes. You’d be hard pressed to deny that, as a society, we yearn for a more sustainable lifestyle and a cleaner, kinder world. Partially born out of necessity, and partially out of idealism, concepts such as co-housing, zero-waste economy and vertical farming are becoming household terms rather than abstract notions exclusively reserved for new age hippies and idealistic millennials. But is a brand new world truly taking shape? Are we really going to make lasting changes, or will ‘corporate’ win out? And what about this Industry 4.0 stuff? PwC decided to investigate the competing forces that are shaping our world today for a snapshot view of our workforce of the future and arrived at four potential new worlds of work. We bring you an abridged version of the report.
It’s safe to say Izat experienced culture shock when he arrived here. Many of our habits and customs are completely alien to him. When I got home after a trip to Italy, Izat had taken his desk out of his bedroom. A bit awkwardly it stood there, pushed into a corner of the living room.
As professionals in the global mobility sector, we know all about managing culture shock, helping our assignees adapt to new environments, and spend a lot of time considering matters such as cost of living allowances and hardship locations. But what about those who move halfway across the globe with no help whatsoever? The people who leave their homes behind for entirely different reasons than a (temporary) foreign assignment? ReLocate spoke with freelance journalist and millennial Deborah Seymus, whose monthly column on living with a young refugee is published by Knack online and republished here with their permission. We look forward to bringing you her column over the coming issues as we explore a brand new view on life in Belgium.
Inspired by the ‘Clicking Culturally’ session at the recent EuRA Relocation Congress in Warsaw we decided to look at what happens when we feel ready to pass our ‘baby’ on to the next generation. Will your company stay in the family or will you find that perfect partner who is willing to contribute to its growth after you say goodbye? And what happens after you have left? Will everybody be as happy as they once were? Will people ‘click’ with the new company culture?
‘The Heavens’ is a photographic documentary research project by Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti, which sheds light on the obscure workings of tax havens. The book presents us with a picture-perfect image of shells, doors and polished shoes. It’s playing at being James Bond, only the villains look stunningly uninspiring and they hardly ever get caught.
The challenges an expat’s partner faces once they’ve been packed up and moved across one or many borders are plentiful. From coping with cultural changes to starting over somewhere new, the challenges can seem never-ending. Some women are happy to postpone their career, but what if that’s not the case? Two trailing spouses share their story.
Joke van Leeuwen (1952, The Hague, NL) writes, illustrates and performs. She was City Poet of Antwerp and was appointed Poet of the Low Lands for 2015-16. Her best known book is probably ‘Eep!’, a story about a girl with wings instead of arms, who tries to follow her own destiny within the ‘normal’ world. The Dutch Van Leeuwen moved to Brussels when she was thirteen and currently resides in Antwerp. The experience of being somewhat of an outsider seeped into her work, leading to an idiosyncratic oeuvre that received numerous awards. “I’m a bit of both countries. I think that’s where I belong, on the border between two worlds.”
In October 2013 I moved to Antwerp for the second time around. The first time, in 2005, I came over for an internship and stuck to a man. The relationship ended and back to the motherland I went. My subsequent return to Belgium was because of a lover, again.
We were living in Amsterdam but never quite felt at home. It was clear to us our future lay beyond the horizon. It was too early in our lives to settle in all too familiar Utrecht, so if we were going to a new town anyway, it might as well be abroad. Off we went, to a light and spacious apartment that felt like a palace after our worn down, ready-to-be-demolished shared house in an industrial zone with frostwork on the bedroom window and just a single woodstove to keep us warm.
Every professional branch has its opportunities abroad and the arts are no exception. Not every expat, however, has a team of professionals at his or her disposal when they cross borders for a new professional challenge. Some people just venture out and make do by trial-and-error… and a lot of socialising.