As a native French speaker, Doline Ndorimana said she felt immediately at home in Luxembourg.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Luxembourg is a welcoming place and people are very curious about its residents, says English and French teacher Doline Ndorimana.
Born and raised in Burundi, the International School of Luxembourg secondary school teacher left home at 18 to study then work in Sweden. “They asked what we eat and what language we speak and how I adapt to the weather. Actually, the weather was better in Sweden than in Luxembourg because it’s not as humid,” she laughs.
After Sweden, Ndorimana and her husband moved to the Netherlands in 2010 before settling in Luxembourg in 2015. After so much time spent living abroad, she is something of a veteran at settling in and, being a native French speaker certainly helps in a country like Luxembourg where French is one of the three national languages. “I felt I was home. I didn’t need any help understanding the mail,” she says.
Another thing that helped ease the transition was the surprise connection she made with a fellow Burundian colleague, who invited her home.
“We were just talking about where I was from. She said ‘what’s your mother’s name? And your dad’s name?’ Then I realised she was my mother’s classmate!” she recalls. The colleague has since become like family.
Ndorimana said among the best advice she received upon arrival was to make the most of Luxembourg’s location in the heart of Europe. “I’ve been able to see so many places around France, Belgium and Germany.” She even takes day trips on the TGV to Paris and to Brussels to visit the many African stores. Her favourite city closer to home, meanwhile, is Nancy.
In the five years since moving to Luxembourg, Ndorimana has seen two sides of the country--living in Howald, on the outskirts of Luxembourg City, and then moving to Beaufort, a small town in the Mullerthal region. “In terms of price, in the city, it was overpriced for the quality we could afford,” she says, explaining that she and her partner wanted a house big enough to be able to accommodate visiting friends and family.
“We ended up finding a beautiful house for us and our family. I like Beaufort: the woods and the trees,” she says.
Two years ago, the couple became homeowners and encourage other newcomers to do the same. In addition to having a larger home for less than what she would pay in the capital and an investment, she says living outside of the city has helped her to get to know the real Luxembourg--she finds people friendlier, she knows her neighbours and the immersive experience of living around so many locals has helped improve her Luxembourgish.
Now, when Ndorimana meets newcomers to Luxembourg, her advice is simple: “Don’t be afraid to go outside of the city. When I said I was going to live in Beaufort everyone said ‘it’s so far’. I thought it must be two hours away. Then I looked it up on a map and saw it was only 40 minutes. The drive is nice. There’s no traffic jam. I think people should just get out of the city and it’s so beautiful in the Mullerthal area.”