Friday, December 30, 2011


I have never before owned anything. No apartment, no car, nothing worth mentioning. Nothing 'serious'. Because let's face it - what am I going to do with them when I suddenly get 'the itch' again and decide that I want to go somewhere else?
Little girls grow older, however, and this time it is different. With the new job I will be moving abroad, so a new car really was in order. The old Peugeot that I shared with my brother rattled on all sides and I think the poor little thing would've given up the moment the mountains came in sight. The fact that it misses its radio and a bunch of other stuff, only made me make the decision faster.
I kind of freaked out a bit over the idea of 'owning' something - hence being responsible for something and more specifically: being responsible for the payment of something -, however small this car might be. But once again, indecisiveness is not in order at this point, so I started looking around for second-hand cars that might make it in the mountains.
There weren't too many options, and my choice fell on a small Citroen C3. I was immediately in love with it. I love those cars and they drive so smoothly, quite an improvement over the Peugeot. I also love the fact that it is new enough, so it is twice ecological - they didn't have to make a new car for me AND I fall under the new exhaust legislation and all that. Ecology first!
It has all the fancy poo-ha that a girl could wish for - except for parking assistance, which might sometimes prove tricky. I have always done without though, so I'll just soon have to get used to the new measurements of my car.

The only 'problem' that I have - or might have had - with my new little beauty is that it is ...
white. Stark white. Snow white. Creepy white. Really WHITE white.
Now, I have been told that white is very 'in' right now, for a car. I have my doubts, but as I said, there wasn't much choice so here we are. I have an open mind though; somewhere along the way I might grow accustomed to the fact that I am driving a white car - something I always said I would never do. The words 'never say never' strangely pop up in my head here ...

I am a girl (or should I say woman? For some reason I never - sorry, 'hardly ever' - refer to myself as a woman) so I always name the things I like. For example my snowboard is called Burtie. Maybe that hasn't much so much to do with me being a girl but rather with me being slightly off my rocker, but that's a bit beside the point I think.
My new car is something that I like, and I will have to travel long and far with him, so I wanted to create a little 'bond' here. I baptized my car ...
Alright, I am very aware of the fact that that sounds stupid, especially in Belgium where people would think of a little old woman, shuffling along the streets with a walking rack, when confronted with the name 'Germaine'. But I am talking about the gangsta version of the name here. Pronounced a bit like Djur-maaayne. Then you have to form the gangsta sign with your hands and shake it and say "Yeah, Djur-maaayne, yeahhhh." That's the type of Germaine I mean. I chose this name to make up for his whiteness, to make him a bit more badass. Because let me tell you, this little tough guy will get me a long way and he will not let me down. Again, never say never, but I am a true believer of 'you reap what you sow'. I will treat him very kindly, wash and feed him often, and we will have a lot of fun together. If I raise him well he will treat me with respect in return and therefore he will not let me down. My logic may stun you, but this is the way my mind works ... Little things please little minds ;-).

I have dressed Germaine with his winter tires and have gotten myself the little vignette for Swiss highways - this year it is a fancy green that will go well with his white jacket (although I am still not a fan of sticking it right on his brand new front window - those things are a bitch to get off in the end!) so we are ready to go on January 2nd. I am excited. Nervous, but excited. I'm sure Germaine feels it too. Our first big trip together - the first of many, I may hope!

Friday, December 23, 2011

... 3 months later

As many - probably most - of you know, I arrived back in Belgium after my New Zealand adventure in one piece but with a broken heart. I had a pretty rough time in the following months. But as they say - life goes on and the world doesn't stop turning.
I have known for a long time now that I can't go straight back to work in Belgium. I don't know which mysterious forces are working inside me so that I don't feel completely comfortable here, but it is what it is and there's no other option than to listen to myself, so I couldn't bring myself to look for a job here. I set myself to finding a job abroad, which isn't the easiest thing to do. I was also out of the working routine for over a year, so that only added to the problem.

The most difficult part was the 'where' of my search. As you know I am interested in pretty much every part of the world, and I have high ambitions in 'seeing everywhere, everything and everyone'. But this is not the moment to be indecisive, so I had to rule some things out.
I had already told myself since long that I wanted to live in London for a while, some time in my life. But somehow this didn't seem to fit the bill at this point, for some inexplicable reason.
I would have loved to go back to New Zealand, but for obvious reasons I figured it was too early and therefore too painful to do that. Then what? Australia is a country that I want to explore better, further and longer, and I would love to experience Sydney properly. But my working holiday visa has expired and it proved a tad too hard to find a job straight away, which is what I need at the moment.
I started to make a little sum of my needs and wants. I set myself a deadline for finding a job abroad; if I didn't find one by then I would start looking in Ghent and Brussels. I sent over a hundred emails to London, Sydney and - astonishingly - Zurich in Switzerland. I figured that if I couldn't live in the NZ mountains, I might as well try the European ones, who are at least equally spectacular, if not more. Switzerland is very clean, snowy in winters, hot in summers, and has good architect offices. So that plan started to unfold itself. Just before my own deadline, I got myself some interviews with an office in Sion, one in Zurich and one in ... oh yeah, drum rolls... Vaduz, Liechtenstein. I didn't get any positive news back from London or Sydney yet ... Bummer.

I set off towards Switzerland with my mum for a week to do the 3 meetings. They were all very positive, but the only one who had an immediate job for me was the one in Vaduz ... no one less than Baumschlager-Eberle. If anyone of you is interested in who they are and what they do, you can click on this link: Baumschlager-Eberle. The job was offered to me on Monday, 12 December.

From the start of January, I will go back to Switzerland, more especially Chur (which is about half an hour driving from Vaduz) with my sister and brother on a little trip to find an apartment, and - how can I not mention this - to enjoy the snow that has recently been falling in heaps over there :-). After that I will make the move and plunge back into the work life of an architect. I will see how that goes for me.

Since I enjoyed writing about my adventures so much, and since it is an easy way for me to let all of you know what is going on with me, I have set up a new blog again. It might be slightly different than the other 2, as in this one will be more about daily / weekly (work) life, whereas the other 2 were true travel blogs. I might add more personal reflections or experiences, or I could add links that interest me, or movies that I have seen ... I don't know yet how it will unfold. Your guess is as good as mine ;-).
In any case - it is a new big step in the life of Marie-Anne Grillet and if you are interested to follow it, here is the place to be :-).