Jerick Parrone, 26
Project Manager ZN
Why did you move to Belgium?
I moved here back in 2008 for an internship. After university, I got an internship to work for Microsoft Europe for a year and that was the start of my life abroad. And as I was about to finish my internship, I decided that I want to continue living abroad and Belgium was a good place to start.
What are your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
Processes – all sorts of legal processes. Belgium is notorious for bureaucracy and unfortunately I was a victim (together with a lot of people). The biggest blunder to date was the work permit for people outside of the EU. They have tough restrictions and need expertise in order to overcome them. It took more than a year and a half to get my work permit.
Luckily, I have a company who had been very supportive, giving me some flexibility to continue to work from the Philippines while I wait. And yes I needed a lot of patience, queueing, and smiling face.
What are the most important documents that you need to have in your first year in Belgium?
The basics like residence card, mutualite (health insurance), bus passes etc. It’s also to good to have some knowledge of tenant laws, a French phrasebook, and sense of what the weather will be tomorrow. (not really a document but it’s very important!)
What do you like most about living in Belgium? Aside from homesickness, what do you dislike?
Like: Brussels in particular is a very international city (dubbed as capital of Europe) so there’s a good chance that your circle of friends will be a mix range of personalities and nationalities. One guy that we met in a recent trip asked my friends how come a Macedonian, Filipino, Hungarian and Peruvian have met and became friends – it’s because of Brussels.
Apart from that, cost of living is slightly lower than the neighbouring capital cities, Belgians are friendly and often will tolerate speaking English.
Dislike: Belgium unfortunately has gotten more dangerous lately and unfortunately, I was a victim. And Belgian processes and work permits as previously mentioned.
Please give three tips on living in your country of residence.
Tip 1: Be prepared for the weather. An umbrella, coat, sunglasses should always be at your disposal. You can experience rain, sun, snow and cloudy weathers in a day.
Tip 2: It’s not just for Belgium but in general. It’s always good to know some local language (French or Dutch in Belgium). It helps in adapting to the community, getting things done easily and meeting new people.
Tip 3: Patience is key for all the bureaucracy. And unfortunately, you need a lot of it to get things done in Belgium – residence card renewal, work permit process or even signing up for internet. So be patient and pray to your gods that you won’t get stuck too much.