I’d like to start this blog with an initial post that explains why I’m doing this and outlines how I plan to proceed.
A few years ago, my husband’s company approached him with the idea of an international assignment in Beijing. We entertained the idea and came incredibly close to accepting the assignment. I started to blog about our journey then, but as you can see, it comes to an abrupt end. We visited Beijing to look for housing. By the end of that trip we determined that we were not ready for that particular adventure. With great respect for the culture and people of Beijing, it became clear to us that two or three years of living there would not be a good fit for our family at that time. We declined that offer but remained open to other international experiences, particularly at his company’s locations in Europe. Last year, the offer to move to Gent*, Belgium arose, and this time, we took it.
We have been living outside of Gent now for seven weeks and, for many reasons, I have decided to return to the idea of a blog to document our experiences. I hope to share our experiences as an expat family in Gent, Belgium, but also to chronicle all the other European travel we hope to accomplish while we live here. I want to get out and about and learn as much about our new city, country, and region as possible. I enjoy visiting new places, learning about them, experiencing regional culture and cuisine, and just generally learning what makes each place unique. A blog feels like a good way to document all this because I have a terrible memory and I am afraid I’ll forget it all if I don’t! Also, I want to share everything with our family and friends, and they express that they want us to. Perhaps what I share will be helpful to other people who find themselves in the same position as an expat, here in Gent, or anywhere. I also look forward to the blog becoming something that keeps my mind active and gives me something to work on. In the States, I was employed full-time, so this move is not just a transition in location for me, it is also a transition in lifestyle and daily routine.
As I have been thinking about how to get started, I want to set some ground rules for myself, if not a plan, for what the purpose of this blog is and how I will carry out that purpose. Here’s what I have come up with so far:
- With recognition that this blog is a public record about a very personal experience for me and my family, I still hope to maintain some privacy by not using full names of family and friends and not posting identifying photos of us. Friends and family can see our personal photos on Facebook or by email. I want this blog to be about our experiences, and to share those experiences through our eyes and our from vantage point. I don’t want it to be looking at us. That, and I am a mother first and my first instinct is to protect my son from the dangers of public exposure on the internet. I realize that fear contradicts the desire to publicly blog, but I am going to try and walk that narrow line anyway. We’ll see how it goes.
- I hope to post regularly. I know that is a blog “best practice” and is what readers want. I also hope that regular posts mean I am regularly doing something interesting, because I also want the posts to have a purpose. And I want to spend the next three years doing interesting things.
- I want to be 100 percent honest and forthcoming in what I share. This might be hard to do knowing I have a variety of audiences. I generally like to keep an open-mind and avoid offending people, but I know that some of my comments and reactions to travel and other cultures may be disagreeable to some.
- I want to blog with a respect for other cultures. I recognize that I will be experiencing things with my world view as an American. I expect that I will experience cultural differences. I also expect that will be good for me and will help me grow as a person. I want to be careful about describing my experiences in an honest but respectful way.
- I strive to post a healthy mix of both serious and fun content. Sometimes short, sometimes long. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes idiotic. Hopefully sometimes funny.
- I hope to create high quality pieces of writing, hopefully backed up with research, facts, and information, that are enlightening and/or entertaining.
Now that I have completed some planning, I think the blogging can really begin!
*Also known as “Ghent” and “Gand”, depending on where you are, I will use the “Gent” spelling because that is what is most commonly used locally.