Irene is a 25-year-old woman who came to Belgium in October 2012. We asked her to write about some of her experiences in a new country, and this is what she wrote:
“SPANISH EYES IN BELGIUM
Irene de la Torre Perelló, 25
After clueless weeks due to the silliness which makes up young people nowadays, I decided to pack all my things and play my luck in Belgium. In any case, I was not going to do a lot in Spain, my home country. It was time to adapt or escape. Not only for me, but for the fifty percent of the young people in my country. It was a difficult decision, but I had to make it. In any case, when you are 24, without attachments, responsibilities, or duties, and a lot of energy; when you are always looking for something new; you have nothing to lose when you pack all your things. You might be surprised about how your young wings can fly.
Not everything I liked to take with me would fit in a suitcase, of course. I had to choose with care: there was a maximum of 20kg of luggage. Besides, the winter was coming and I wanted to be coquettish. I would take my turntable with me, my piano, even my cat. But no. I could not. I travelled by plane and I had to choose. Few clothes, but always clean ones. And I knew that I did not need the things that I was going to leave there, and that when I have them with me I would not even look at them. However, with a distance of 1,624 kilometers between us, I would miss them. For some strange reason, I would be more peaceful knowing that I have those things closer. It weighed 19 kg. I could still take with me my toothpaste and my stick deodorant. And that was all. I had to go.
It was going to be a long trip. Chance decided for me to arrive the day there was a train strike. The strikers have their own reasons to complain, they are not going to think about the others. When I descended from the airplane, the cold air gave me a cordial welcome. Grey sky. Just a couple of minutes later, the smell of fries. There was no doubt: I had landed in Belgium. I was happy, I do not know why but that city inspires me, the words just come out of my pen without any effort.
First of all, I needed a room, which was not an easy task. But I continued every day with hope. This time might be maybe the right one. I had already seen so many rooms that I did not know how to be prepared to look at the next one. Today is another day: three appointments in one day. I wanted to start all over again. And there was nothing better to do that than a room without furniture. Why not this one? I was really tired of looking for one, and this seemed nice. I would collect the furniture one by one. That could be easy or not. That depended on the attitude. For me it was a game, nothing else. A puzzle the pieces of which I had to put together one by one.
Meal time was another thing… strange. Strange for me, of course. I had to get used to the idea that I cannot have lunch at two o’clock in the afternoon. They would already have closed the kitchen. The weather was another story; 10 degrees less than in my home country. That is like winter for me. So in two hours flying I have travelled from summer to winter. Adaptation. I would manage.
I was more aware of the situation now that I have been here for a while. People live quite well here. From a Spanish point of view, the economy here is working. It is a small society; maybe that is the secret. You could clearly notice the circular flow of income. They work, so they earn; they spend what they earn, and that way, the ones who once paid now receive. It is a circle. The banknote that was one day in his pocket will return to him in one month, or even in a few hours. He only had to wait. We could test it. Put a red spot in a bank note. At the end this bank note will return to you. It was an exchange in all aspects, but just with a ‘paper’ in between. The problem with the place that I left was this ‘paper’. Because there were a lot of people who desired to work. The people in my country also stopped living on a cloud and wishing for unnecessary things. Now they know what is really necessary and that is all. They learned how to appreciate the things that they have. They learned how to live a couple of steps below. They were a little more human, a little less destructive, a little more creative.”
To be continued in Simile 05…