“I never regretted my decision to live and work in Luxembourg”
Buu Huynh has been working in the Development & Patrimonial Team at ING since June 2019. One of his main missions is building and maintaining relationships with the expat community. Buu knows what he is talking about. He has been three times an expatriate in his life. Here is his story.
My background is a little complicated, but I will make it as simple as possible. My grandparents, who were Chinese, immigrated to South Vietnam in the 40s. In the mid-70s, at the end of the Vietnam war, my parents and I fled our country to seek a better life in Belgium; I was only four years old. In 2001, after having studied business law in Liege, I decided to move to the United States looking for the “American dream”. I had nothing but two pieces of luggage and a one-way ticket. I quickly found a job in a family office in San Diego in Southern California and stayed there for ten years.
At the beginning of 2011, I considered moving back to Europe to be closer to my family. Having a preference for a big European city, I began applying for jobs in Paris, London and Brussels. I never thought about Luxembourg. In my mind, the Grand Duchy was a dreary place. There was nothing to do apart from working for a higher salary. A friend of mine told me my vision of the country no longer corresponded to the reality. Luxembourg has changed, and its capital had become more cosmopolitan than in the past. I was still sceptical, but when I was contacted by ING Luxembourg for an opportunity, I accepted the challenge. I got a shared apartment in Luxembourg City so at least I knew someone.
Wearing flip flops in Luxembourg City
During my first days in the capital, I was surprised by the diversity of its inhabitants. When I visited Liège eight months after my new life in the United States, I had a cultural shock. It was like I was a foreigner in my hometown. In Luxembourg, it was different. It reminded me a little of California, but only because of the cultural and ethnical diversity! The weather was much colder than in San Diego, and the dress code was not the same! I remember that it was hot in Luxembourg during the first few weeks – I began working in June 2011. I was wearing flip flops and casual shorts in the streets of the capital and a lot of people strangely looked at me. At that time, it seems it was not a common thing to wear that kind of shoes in a Luxembourgish city.
When you are an expatriate and want to socialize, the Grand Duchy has many advantages. The country is small and dynamic. There are so many social events almost every night that networking is effortless, especially for me who has lived in California. Californians are used to talk with each other even if they do not know each other. I tried to reproduce the same attitude in my new country, and it worked. I extended my social network in just a few months. I was also involved in a Luxembourg expat group on an online platform for finding and building local communities. I could exchange with other expats – the group had more than 3,000 members at that time, now almost 10,000! - and get useful and practical information about the Grand Duchy.
Be open and don’t be afraid of the unknown
My expat experience helped me in my professional career. One year after being hired by ING, I moved to the Kirchberg branch, where I quickly became in charge of opening accounts for expats. I explained to clients the administrative procedures to open an account but also gave them some tips about renting an apartment, buying a car, socializing or finding childcare facilities according to their personal and family situation.
I never regretted my decision to live and work in Luxembourg. Being integrated in the Grand Duchy was easy for me, and I think that the integration process of the expats, wherever they come from, is much easier today. Since my arrival in Luxembourg eight years ago, the country has strengthened its international image. It has become one of the favourite destinations for expatriates, whose number is growing from year to year. If you walk in the streets of Luxembourg City, you can hear a lot of foreign languages on each corner. And wearing flip flops in the summer is no longer considered a strange thing!
To conclude, if I can give two pieces of advice to expats in Luxembourg or wherever in the world, I will say: be open and don’t be afraid of the unknown.
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