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Expat tales: Sreeman Bommisetty from India on making Belgium home
I originally come from Andhra Pradesh, in south India, and I have been here for 10 years. I had previously worked in the US for a short period, but I had never heard of Belgium when I was asked to be part of a short-term IT assignment. Today, Belgium is my home and the largest IT community here is Indian.
My priority when I arrived in Brussels was understanding the work culture. I found it calmer than in India. One difficulty was that the shops, municipality offices and banks were all closed when I finished work. The situation has improved a bit now. After around five years on IT assignments, I worked for various management and manufacturing consultancies to get more experience.
I’m currently a senior BI (Business Intelligence) specialist at Puratos, an international group that offers a range of products and application expertise to the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. I am responsible for defining the group’s reporting strategy and governance roadmap, as well as the implementation of BI projects.
When you first come to Belgium to work, the taxes might surprise you. Apart from your salary, you also need to know what benefits the company offers you to help you understand the full compensation package.
I was single when I arrived here, but after a year I married my Indian wife. We live in Evere, which is very popular with the Indian community. Language can be a barrier, although the majority of Belgian corporates use English for communication. I can now understand and speak basic Dutch.
People here are open to other cultures, but the main difference compared to my home country is the social life. In India, there is always a celebration about everything, and people talk to each other and express themselves. I have made friends in Belgium and developed lots of projects.
I am the founder of Indian Confluence, an organisation with a theme of celebrating unity, which is aimed at cultural exchanges between Europe and India. We organise Diwali celebrations, a spring festival and events for kids. Our biggest activity is the annual Indian Food Festival in July and August.
This article first appeared in ING Expat Time. Would you like to tell your story here? Get in touch at email@example.com