An Expat Ode

I've felt it several times today: as I walked out of my apartment, located in the heart of the city, and again this evening sitting outside at my local 'Cheers'. This is home. 

expat, expat bar, Cheers, Gent, Belgium, wine

I'm conflicted if I should feel insanely lucky or overwhelmingly proud. Maybe both. The fact I pulled off legally living in Europe without a sponsor and without any family lineage to rely on is nothing to sneeze at. In actuality, I was told it was impossible.

expat, Gent, Belgium, wine, Gentse Feesten, water, boats

Yet, I'm sitting in a position of reapplying for my visa for the last time. That's because soon I can apply to be a citizen of this strange, small and wonderful country in a matter of months. 

expat,   Gent, Belgium, wine, Gentse Feesten, castle

I did this; it was all me. Not a single person helped make this happen, but I will give some credit to that one person who has been my Roommate through it all. Yet, no one held my hand. No one guided the way. I know no one else that has done it, so I couldn't learn from their successes or failures. There were no books on how to thrive in this foreign country, especially with no work and no friends initially, and trying to extricate myself gracefully from an already failed marriage.

expat, Gent, Belgium, patio, garden, terrace, coffee, garden

It feels possibly like my greatest achievement. This strange, historic city feels more like home than anywhere I've lived in the States. Sure, I'm always the foreigner, but when I sit in my neighborhood cafe and listen to the sounds and watch the people, I feel so at ease. 

expat, Gent, Belgium, boats, harbour, haven, water

Thanks Belgium for taking me in.