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Beyond Brussels: Blogger Vanessa McCulloch on what she loves about life in Antwerp
Great schools, safe neighbourhoods and bicycle-friendly streets are just a few of the items on Vanessa McCulloch’s list of great things in Antwerp. After moving from the UK to the Netherlands, then to Belgium, she was ready to settle down with her partner and daughter and start a new life.
McCulloch moved to the area in 2006 and since then has had two more children. She and her partner both teach English at Antwerp International School, and she says the process of becoming a resident was relatively simple. “One thing I found quite diﬃcult though was to get information about local and community events,” she says. “When people come to a new city, it’s easy to ﬁnd information about places tourists would visit. But to feel like part of the community, you want to know more about local events.”
That’s why she set up a blog to help expats who have recently arrived to ﬁnd local and budget-friendly activities. Though there are multiple organisations in Antwerp for expats, McCulloch says the best thing has been using social media to communicate with others. She is an admin on various Facebook groups where people can ask about the best grocery store and where to get a new bike or ﬁnd out about events, and that’s been a great way to meet people. “Some people end up living in a bit of a bubble when they arrive in a new country. They tend to ﬁnd people of their own nationality and only be friends with them,” McCulloch says. “The best thing to do is to head into the centre of town and get lost, wander about and get out of your safety zone socially.”
The McCulloch family live in the centre of town, and they love to walk and ride their bikes around the city. The children are still young, but have always felt safe while being active members in the Antwerp community, and McCulloch says they are lucky to live in such a lively area, ideal for families, couples and single people.
This article first appeared in The Bulletin Summer 2018