From John, in Belgium

John Brown postcard

4th September 2017

This isn’t exactly where I live, but it’s a big part of my life here in Belgium. This is the International Chorale of Brussels, an amateur choir of about 50 singers, which I direct. We have at least 15 nationalities who sing regularly, mostly European but a few Americans as well. Being part of an international community was an unexpected benefit of living close to Brussels, and one which I very much enjoy. Some people seem to think that internationalism means a loss of national character, but I find the opposite. People here are proud of their nationality, and national differences often become emphasised in such an international environment. We acknowledge the differences, even the stereotypes, and learn from them. People are interested to know about other countries’ customs and food, for example, but also differing attitudes to international events or political figures. People are of course happy to sing in their native language, but equally happy to learn how to pronounce someone else’s language (Danish was a challenge for most of us!). The reaction to Brexit of everyone I have spoken to in the choir is one of shock and disbelief. But then I suppose it’s a group of people who have an open, international mindset: no surprise that they find it difficult to comprehend why a country would choose to leave such a powerful group of nations.

John Continue reading →

From Lin, en Bretagne

CP076 Lin in Brittany postcard

My favourite photo of my friends and neighbours, taken at our annual commune BBQ. A small commune (Hamlet) but 7 languages spoken, 6 nationalities, ages 2-92 years! The true spirit of the EU living, supporting, helping each other, living in Peace. Sadness and disbelief followed the UK advisory referendum.  I’m so lucky to have their full support during this difficult time #StrongerTogther #InLimbo.

Lin Continue reading →

From Mark, in Germany

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4th September 2017

I took this picture on one of the early trips I made to Germany almost five years ago now. I’ve built up my connections with this country slowly over time, making friends, coming to visit them, exploring gradually step by step. Stuttgart was one of the first places in Germany that made me fall in love with Germany – the beauty of the southern landscapes, a welcoming community that was willing to host me and show me something of their life in the city, a new land to discover and explore.

Mark Continue reading →

From Musa, in Germany

Must sent us this postcard—a picture of his local football team.

CP157 postcard

This is a photo of my local football team, SFC Friedrichshain Internazionale, in 2016; in this picture, we’d just won a penalty shoot-out to be promoted to the city’s top amateur league. The club is truly diverse; its 25 squad members are drawn from 14 different nationalities, and its founding charter speaks out against homophobia, racism, sexism and fascism.

Musa

Photo Credit: Ben Ferry, Bloody Hell Magazine, 2016. Continue reading →

From Paul, in Germany

Paul sent us this postcard—a picture of him and his wife in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Paul Hughes

25th August 2017

It means something to me as it is one of the first pictures of me and my wife who is German after we moved to Wiesbaden, Germany. It was taken 2 years into our European adventure after living in Amsterdam and then Frankfurt.

The ease in which we were able to move between countries was as easy as it was to move between cities.

Looking back and smiling at this, also makes me sad that my son may lose similar opportunities in his life. Without freedom of movement in Europe it’s possible my wife would not have had the opportunity to freely study and work in the UK and with no real qualifications it’s unlikely I would have had the opportunity to live, travel and work in Europe.

Paul

Paul also writes (and podcasts) about his life in Germany. You can find out more here. And he has written all about his life in Germany on The Expat Blog – just click the badge below to read more!

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From Mair, in Germany

Mair's Garden View

25th August 2017

Here is a picture of my garden in Germany, a house I bought almost on a whim, last year, before the referendum, as the pound started falling. I sat in my house, a house that had always felt like a home, in the wee small hours as the referendum results rolled in. One in two people voted out, they say. How do they feel here, in my little village? Do one in two of my neighbours think the Brits should go home? Spring rolled around. I bought a garden bench – a cheap one. Perhaps they won’t let me stay. Is there any point in planting long-term plants? We drifted into summer. My neighbour brings me lettuces, beans from her garden. This is a holiday region – I wish more of my friends would visit and enjoy it – the walks, the river, the views. They visit. It rains. They don’t understand the museums because they’re all in German. My neighbour brings me cucumbers. I sit on my bench and watch my own garden grow. Raspberries, grapes, beans, peas. I earn money. I keep my paperwork up to date. I plan to hire a tax consultant – I don’t want to make any mistakes. I don’t want them to have any reason to send me back. “We’re leaving – if you don’t like it, get out”, hiss the Twitter leavers. Oh, I say, I’m trying, I’m really trying. The sunflowers bloom. My neighbour brings me tomatoes.

Mair

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From Faye, in Italy

Faye's postcard from Italy

21st August 2017

It has taken me all this time to reply because every time I thought I’d nailed the reasons I love living here; beauty, peace, community, etc it didn’t seem to quite capture the real essence but I think I’ve got it!

The photo is of my husband’s family home from before he was born, when his mum and dad were young and in the photo, his nan and grandad when they were younger. What I love about Foligno is the fact that it brings out the best in me. There’s a connection everybody has with the place, their homes and each other and that connection brings out kindness, compassion, caring, empathy, love and a sense that we should look after one another. It exemplifies and pushes to the forefront our common unity, highlighting that we are all human and basically just the same. We all want to be happy and enjoy life and its completely normal that to get there we need help and from family, friends and the community.

Faye

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From Justin in Spain

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17th August 2017

We came across this place a few weeks ago, by word of mouth: you take a short drive to somewhere you’d never think of going, walk a short way along a path you wouldn’t think of taking and there it is, a bathing pool you’d never know about, a long long way from anywhere you’d ever have heard of.

Justin

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From Russell in Germany

Russell sent us a photo of St Lamberti Church in Oldenburg, the seat of the local Lutheran bishop. As he explains, the church is older than its brickwork suggests: it was built between 1155 and 1234.

Church of St Lamberti

4th August 2017

Like all churches of a certain age, it started life as a Roman Catholic church. It reminds me of the first time I came to Oldenburg as a tourist, but also of the present. Although Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, ultimately taking this church and others with him, Britain’s break-away from the EU is unlikely to kick-start a wider reformation. Our negotiating position seems weak and chaotic, a far cry from Luther’s legendary nailing of 95 Theses to a church door.

Russell

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From Julia in Amsterdam

Julia's bike on moving day - getting around Amsterdam

4th August 2017

I wanted so much to share an elegant picture, but this is what it means to me to live in Amsterdam: Being practical (and being on two wheels). This is from the day we moved into our newly purchased apartment, a slightly damp November morning –  I went ahead to move the essentials:  laptop, toilet roll, sushi, gratuitous firefighters calendar.  Inspired by the daily sight of pragmatic commuters with oddly laden bikes, I love how this answers all my UK car driving friends main question who can’t comprehend travelling everywhere by bike:  What do you do if you can’t fit everything in your basket?

Julia

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