The year 2010 was a pretty big year for us – our first full year living in Belgium, with lots of adventures in and out of the country.
Career wise, I moved from an external consultant to an internal employee of my pharma company. I presented my work at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Glasgow, had my first epidemiology paper accepted for publication, and received an excellent end-of-year performance review. I am really enjoying my job, and I feel that I am very suited to the work that I am doing.
I also received my diploma for my Masters of Public Health, so I can now add a few more initials after my name.
Adrian won over 3 million euros worth of research grants this year, permitting him to expand his lab to include several technicians as well as seven PhD students. He published seven review articles, with several primary papers soon to be completed.
We are becoming more comfortable in our new home. I now have a Belgian driver’s licence and permanent residency, and my French has progressed from beginner’s level to intermediate. I can now have a basic conversation in most stores and usually walk out with the item that I required, as well as helping a person on the street with directions to a nearby landmark.
We have made a small but warm circle of friends in Brussels and Leuven. I have enjoyed Ladies’ Night in Leuven, as well as celebrating birthdays, Halloween and New Year’s Eve with some wonderful people. I have been welcomed into a dynamic English-speaking book club full of intelligent and articulate women.
Pepper and Mint are thriving. Through a regime of clomipramine, feliway, and regular treats, they are now relaxed and happy. No longer hiding under the couch, they run to greet us when we return home and seem to enjoy our company.
Our spare rooms were put to great use this year. Michelle and Grant were regular visitors, arriving with a bag full of home-made jam and Cadbury’s chocolate and leaving with a suitcase full of Cantillon beer. In January, Sydneysiders Robin and Neil used our place to rejuvenate during a round-the-world trip, sampling every gâteau that Pierre Marcolini had to offer. Luke and Shyla came to visit us from London to see and taste a bit of Belgium. Canberran Anna stopped by to help me celebrate my 30th birthday with cupcakes and cosmopolitans.
In July, Adrian’s mum Lynne took her first international flight to see her family in the UK as well as us here in Brussels. We took her on a road trip to Burgundy, France, where she met my mum and Josef for the first time.
In August my sister Amy stayed with us during her eurotrip, and we shared moules et frites in the Grand Place with our uncle Greig and aunt Margaret who also happened to be in Brussels at the same time.
In August, Mum and Josef arrived in Belgium to see our home and our new life. We took them to our favourite restaurants and shared with them the best sights of the region.
We have also managed to see a bit more of Europe. After starting the year in Milan, in February we took our young friends Lila and Grace to see Disneyland Paris in the snow.
Our Canberra friend Lina joined us in April to visit Slovenia, Italy, San Marino, and the Vatican City.
In June we spent a day in Cologne, Germany, to see the Cirque du Soleil perform. A few weeks later, after a couple of days in Belarus we met up with NYC John to journey through Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.
We visited the UK several times – to explore Michelle and Grant’s new hometown of Cambridge, to see Luke and Shyla’s new flat in London, and I spent some time with Mum and Josef while they were house-swapping in Chichester.
In November a quick trip to Paris reunited us with the old Seattle team of Jeong, Lianne, Shyla, and Luke for some gourmet meals and spectacular sights.
Sadly, the year 2010 also had its moments of loss and grief. Some were dealt a very personal and heartbreaking loss, while others marked the anniversary of loved ones who had passed away in the years before. My nephew Jayden passed away in July from a sudden illness – this January 7th would have been his 17th birthday.
We are reminded that every day is precious, and we see how lucky we are to live and work in such a beautiful and interesting country. We are thankful for all the experiences that we shared with our friends and family in 2010, and we are looking forward to even greater adventures in 2011.