A year overseas - Post 2: Working Abroad

(Read Part 1 here!) In Part 1 I mentioned that I moved to Belgium to work on a placement year as part of my degree - I got a placement at the Kipling handbag brand within VF Corporation's Europe Head quarters. I think if you want to work and live in another country permanently you should always learn the native language/s, but in this case almost everyone I encountered spoke English and the company was highly multicultural - we had British/Spanish/American/French and Italian people as colleagues in VF along with Dutch speaking people from the Netherlands and French Belgian Nationals, making English the commonly spoken language throughout the company.

Moving abroad means that naturally you get to experience another culture, but I found working in a multinational company like VF meant you experienced many cultures all in one place - my work friends regularly spoke of their cultures and brought back food & drink from when they would visit home!

A beautiful Chateau 10 minutes walk away from the office

I found my placement through the University who put the vacancy on our online student portal, however if you're looking to work overseas I advise you to research companies in that area and check their vacancy pages for a suitable role. I was also lucky enough to have a single phone interview for my role, which meant I didn't have to spend money on travelling for an interview.

My team was a small team of four, working on the brand's website in the E-commerce department. I worked with two Belgian Nationals, one French and one Flemish, an Italian from Stabio who would visit the office and my manager who was English. I've stayed in touch with all of them on social media and even met with my Flemish work mate in Nottingham who was there for a work visit - it's an amazing feeling having friends from different places!

Shooting an exclusive product range on the Chateau grounds

It was an exciting year especially working within a fashion corporation - VF contains brands such as Eastpak, Wrangler, Vans and The North Face and there would be freebies and sample sales regularly. I would buy Eastpak bags for 10 euros and a friend who worked at Wrangler gave us free jeans (I still wear them!). We would have seasonal previews where the Marketing department would share the upcoming collections with us.

Commuting was strange as the office was in the middle of nowhere - the train was only 15 minutes but then it would be a half an hour walk from the station to the office unless we got the bus. Since it was a temporary job it was do-able, but I wouldn't have wanted it to be a permanent situation.

The salary was 12,000 euros untaxed for the year - I relied on university bursaries and student finance to fund my debts from the initial move, but found the salary to be enough for my rent and bills along with occasional trips home and mini breaks away.

I hope this post was informative - I plan on writing about culture/travelling around Belgium and other topics in the near future! Leave any comments or questions below, I love reading them! X

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