How does a girl from a country with a Mediterranean climate end up in not-so-sunny Belgium? I get that question a lot. To be honest, it was love that sparked the wish to head north, but it was actually Unit4 that brought me here.
It was during my studies in Lisbon – Political Science & Communications – that I got the opportunity to do a 6-month internship at the Council of the European Union in Brussels. An amazing time, which not only made me fall in love with the Belgian capital, but also with my current boyfriend. Two years ago, upon returning to my home country, I started working at Unit4’s Global Delivery Centre (GDC) in Lisbon. The GDC -– recently named one of the 100 Best Companies to work for in Portugal – is a Unit4 business unit that supports clients worldwide, through its consultancy team performing implementation services for Unit4’s own financial and ERP software.
Although I very much enjoyed working at the GDC, my Belgian boyfriend and I were also keen to change our relationship status from long- to short-distance. Therefore, I talked to my manager to discuss options for a transfer to the Belgian Unit4 office in Antwerp. Luckily, I got the opportunity to start a 3-month trial in February 2016, which turned into a trial period of a year. After successfully completing that year, I signed a contract with the Belgian office in January 2017.
It’s been a very joyful time; there’s a strong team spirit in the office and everyone values a good work-life balance. What I really like is that every first Friday of the month, an office meeting is held where literally everybody shows up and we discuss opinions and issues, and provide each other with ideas and solutions.
So far, I haven’t experienced a lot of cultural differences. Greetings are different though. When you meet in Portugal, you always give two kisses. Even with customers. Here you shake hands. So, when I first started here, I was sometimes left between giving two kisses and shaking hands. It caused quite some hilarious situations as you can imagine.
What would I advise anyone with the desire to work in another country?
Be absolutely sure that you want to do it. One tends to think the grass is greener abroad and that’s not always the case.
If you are certain you want to make that step, learn as much as you can about the company you’ll work for and the country you’ll live in.
Once you make it abroad: enjoy and absorb it as much as you can! It’s the best luggage you can take back home.