These photos have been taken by people who live in Antwerp but who come from other countries. They spring from a post which took place in the Expats in Antwerp Facebook group; it resulted in the sharing of many lovely photos -some from serious photographers; others just snaps taken on mobile phones.
What do they tell us about how we immigrants feel about our adopted home? I don’t think there’s a single answer to that question, but they are certainly beautiful and personally I think that does show that when people come from other countries to make their home in a new country and – despite the challenges of doing this – they look for what is positive and uplifting in their new environment.
(1) By The River
Rohitar is from India and arrived in Antwerp nearly two years ago. He came to Belgium seeking a better life for himself and his family.
(2) Park Bridge
John Furnari:“I’m originally from Knoxville, Tennessee but moved to London in 2011 where I met my wife who is from Ekeren. In 2016 we decided to make the jump to Antwerp where we settled in the Jewish Quarter just off the Belgiëlei.”
Jenny is Finnish and has lived in Belgium since 2008, and in Antwerp since 2013. She came to Belgium for work purposes and may be moving on to new adventures again shortly.
(4) Playing in the fountains
Filipe is from Portugal and has lived in Antwerp for two and half years. “Those moments watching children playing always made me remember my son and his beautiful smile, and always make me miss home.”
(5) Antwerp Rooftops
Anna is from Russia and moved to Antwerp a year ago, from Prague to be with her boyfriend. “This photo was taken from MAS in December 2018 on a sunny day. A friend of mine was visiting and I took him all the way to the top to have a panoramic view of the city.”
(6) Bike near MAS
Charlotte is British, and moved to Antwerp about a year ago, due to her husband’s work. “My husband, sister-in-law and I had cycled down to the MAS to have a ‘sundowner’ as it was such a beautiful evening. I snapped the pic using my phone ! I guess I was in the right place at the right time. “
(7) Birds flying next to the Schelde
Sylvia is from Italy and very recently arrived in Antwerp – in the last month!
“I’m not a professional photographer though my dad was, and he passed a love for this art on to me. I believe that in every shot we take there is something of ourselves, that often only we know … and this photo reminds me of my mood when I captured it: alone as the person with his back to me and full of hope as the faint rays of sun!”
(8) The bike path by The Schelde
Manoosh is from Iran and moved to Antwerp about six months ago, having visited the city on a number of occasions while travelling. She works as an actress here. “The main reason I prefer living in Antwerp to any other city in Europe is the peace, the dynamic city life and the artistic side of it.”
BATS is a very important part of Antwerp’s theatre scene -both for English speakers from other countries who have made Antwerp their home, and also for native Belgians here in Antwerp.
My own kids have loved their annual pantomimes and my oldest child has been part of a Variety Show, and a panto. It is a place where people not only express their love of theatre, but also make friends and socialise. Please read the flyer below which is from BATS and get in touch with them if you can help!
Antwerp simply wouldn’t be the same without BATS …
This is for you if you are going to have a baby and you live in Antwerp- a few helpful things to keep in mind by Laura Soave (pic right), who has recently had her second child here in Antwerp.
1.The Mecca of Parenting
If you need advice about your baby or pregnancy, or about breastfeeding; if you want to find a baby massage class, do yoga during pregnancy or if you just want a chat about your sleepless nights with your newborn you’ll find everything you need at the Kraamvogel.
Kraamvogel provides a variety of services and support: the website is very clear in terms of finding what you need: it’s divided into 3 sections: Zwanger (pregnancy), Bevallen (delivery) and Kinderwens (getting pregnant/ starting a family). In the Kraamvogel (Volkstraat 7 – 2000 Antwerpen) you’ll find lots of books about babies and pregnancy too
2. All you need is help
If you are in need of a consultation at home or you would like support in deciding whether to deliver at home or at the hospital, you can go on the website Vroedvrouwen.be to look for a vroedvrouw, a midwife. These are independent professional women and they provide a phone number that you’ll be able to reach during the week or weekend if you have difficulty with breastfeeding or other newborn-related issues. You can also contact organizations like Solidariteit voor het Gezin to get the kraamzorg. This organisation, like many others, will be able to provide you, for a fair price, someone that can help you during your first days at home with your baby. They will prepare simple meals for you, you can send them on an errand to the pharmacy or the supermarket. They’ll even do some cleaning in the house, if needed
3. If this isn’t your first Rodeo…
First-time parents cannot wait to buy new clothes, lots of toys, a new stroller. When you’re having your second child, it’s a whole new vibe. You’ll try to recycle whatever you can and at some point you’ll want to get rid of things. Whenever you want to give away things (clothes, toys, crib, etc.) you can bring them toMoeders voor Moeders, a charity organization located in Borgerhout that works with 160 volunteers. I have done a tour of the place myself and believe me, when I tell you, it’s huge and well organized in departments, there’s even a cafeteria where people who cannot afford it, can get coffee for 10 cents.
You can also go to theGeefwinkel creandersregenboog in Berchem, where you’ll find clothes (men, women and children) and you’re allowed to bring things but also to collect what you like or need.
4. To pump or not to pump: that is the question!
Not a lot of people know that the public hospital Sint-Vincentius in Antwerp doesn’t rent electric breast-pumps any longer, nor will you find them at the pharmacies. I foundNoord Baby as the only place in Antwerp city centre that rents breast-pumps. The owner is a midwife and also organizes workshops on different topics (pre-partum classes, breastfeeding, and so on).
You can also contact your mutualiteit (health care insurer) to rent the breastpump (generally for a very fair price).
5. When your baby is born
Shortly after the birth of your baby, you’ll be contacted by an organization called Kind en Gezin, who will arrange an initial visit with you at home. During the visit, they’ll test hearing and monitor the baby’s weight. They’ll also get you an appointment for the baby’s first vaccinations. You can either go for a general consultation, or just to take the weight and measure your baby (no appointment needed for this). All of these services are for free.
6. Home delivery and Shopping
Orchestra andDreambaby on the A12 are the cheapest big malls for toys, clothes, strollers, diapers, and more important items. But can also find lots of good deals atKruidvat. Especially on baby products.
Personally I’ve always found practical to have diapers delivered home, together with other baby supplies. Parents do not always have time to rush to the supermarket to get the essentials (diaper disposal bags, wet napkins, diapers).
Let’s call it ‘peace of mind’: I only do this once a month viabol.com and get it delivered at home for free in 24h.
Don’t forget: if you have Mobile Viking as phone provider, you’ll receive a percentage of your purchases as phone credit. Pretty awesome!
7. CPR for babies and toddlers
This can be a scary topic for new parents, but bear with me here, because it is important.
It’s a must for every parent. There are organisations which offer classes. It’s just one evening (4 hours- but you can also find longer courses that offer more detailed and developed training) during which an expert will teach you what to do in case you’ll have to manage a situation involving choking, drowning, burning, drinking poisoning substance or medications. There is also a practical session at the end with practice- mannequins. This is a specific class for CPR on babies and toddlers:Rode Kruis First Aid to babies and children in EN –EHBO bij kinderen in NL
If you have a Belgian contract, once your insurance has terminated the payments for your moederschapsverlof (maternity leave) you can also apply for your Ouderschapsverlof (parental leave). You can do this easily by applying via RVA’s (ONEM) website. This website provides the paperwork you need only inNL andFR.
You’ll need to fill in the paperwork (to be downloaded on the website) and there is a part for the employee and a few pages for your employer. You’ll need to attach to your file a copy of your baby’s birth certificate too. This procedure usually takes about a month or so to get approved. You can also follow your file online, to see scheduled payments etc.
9. Find your Mary Poppins.
UseBsit: this is a very handy app created in 2015 by two cool Belgian mums – Géraldine and Donatienne – who wanted to know more about their babysitters before meeting them for the first time. You set your price per hour; you choose for proximity or best reviews. The reviews are very helpful; you can read about other parents’ experiences with that same person. You also get to know things like: how much experience your babysitter has, how many sittings she has done, which languages she speaks, her age etc.
There are also a couple of other organisations that provide this kind of service:Kinderoppas andNanny in Nood. These can be a little more expensive than Bsit, but helpful and professional in the same way.
10. If you’re going back to work…
You’ll find a very useful list ofCrèches on this website. There is a section for people in immediate need of a spot, but usually finding a daycare that has a spot in Antwerp can take a while, so try to do it as soon as possible -many people in busy areas will get onto waiting lists after the 12 week scan. You can choose whether to opt for a Group daycare or apply for an Onthaalmoeder– these are mothers at home that take between 6 and 8 babies. This is a solution for parents who prefer a smaller environment for their child. But again, hurry! There are often long waiting lists for any of these solutions.
Hi, my name is Frederik and I am the owner of Rombachs Glass. I was born in Belgium, and raised in Benoni, Johannesburg until the age of 14 . From there, my parents and I moved to the Netherlands where I learned to speak Dutch. At aged 17 I decided to continue traveling the world and spent time living and working in San Diego, and later on in Puebla, Mexico. Leaving the warm Southern Hemisphere I spent time living and working in Bergen, Norway. About 6 years ago I moved to Antwerp and decided to settle down here (…for a while at least).
Rombachs glass studio is the first public glass studio in Belgium that works solely with waste glass. We host demonstrations where we make sculptures out of waste glass such as boxing gloves, scorpions and all kinds of other weird stuff! We also host team-building events for large and small companies looking to have some fun together and make a communal object out of glass. If you feel like do something fun after work then you can also check out the workshops that we do in the evenings!
We are also setting up an exciting new experiment where we help people learn Flemish through glassblowing. If you are interested in this trimester program then please get in touch for more information!
But that’s not all we do: we also make company gifts. If you and your company are looking for a lasting memento, and want something truly unique then we will be able to help!
So, from sculptures to events, and a mix of products in between, that’s pretty much what we do -and we do it all with waste glass!
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, ideas or projects you would like to pass on.
Last but not least, on Sunday 14th of July we will be hosting our monthly Second Sunday, from 2pm – 5pm. We ask a 5€ contribution which is also your raffle ticket! At the end of the demo we will raffle off the pieces we made to a few lucky winners!
Hi, my name is Jon Kemp and I moved from UK to Antwerp in 2014 to work as a marine engineer for International Marine Dredging Consultancy (www.imdc.be). I had only intended to stay for one or two years but I really like the city and now it feels like home.
Although not necessary for my job, I felt it was important to learn Dutch to better integrate into my new home and I have always believed that it is good to be able to speak the language spoken in the place where you live. So after six months of enjoying the Belgium beer, making new friends and enjoying the World Cup (although, not so much for the England performance in 2014…) I decided to enrol in a Dutch Language course and since then have tried many different courses. I felt it would be good to share my experience.
Essentially there are two main options, as explained below. These are the Linguapolis courses run by the University of Antwerp and the CVO courses (CVO Antwerpen, CVO Encora, CVO LBC & CVO Sopro), which are government subsidised courses, and so are cheaper (but not necessarily of a lesser quality). All have different options in terms of timing (day/night), number of classes per week, and locations where you can study.
Before comparing the differences in the courses, one of the main differentiators when learning Dutch is the teacher and your fellow classmates, and these can often have the biggest impact on your learning experience.
Atlas can help with integration and can find suitable courses (although they are unlikely to recommend the Linguapolis course). It should be noted that waiting times can sometimes be long or the place is busy, and if you are already working full time it can be difficult to get an appointment
Linguapolis runs the courses at the University of Antwerp and they state that you are supposed to have a university degree, and have learnt a second language, to enter but they don’t seem to check.
Generally their course notes are well-presented in a bound book for each of the 5 levels. These courses have a solid focus on correct grammar and generally provide excellent teaching and explanation of the grammar and the rules. The courses move quickly, and you will get quite a lot of homework, which you will need to do if you want to pass the exams and keep up with the lessons.
Their Level 1 course gets you to a Level A2 in 10 -15 weeks, which would typically take you longer if you followed the CVO courses. Although there is speaking in the class, correct speaking is a key focus (e.g. ensuring inversion is used) over general conversation and simply ‘getting by’. The method of marking exams is stringent and is called negative marking. For example, if you have 15 questions and 10 points, you get a minus point for every wrong answer, meaning you could have 5 correct answers but still score 0. The price is high compared to the CVO courses though.
CVO stands for Centrum Voor Volwassenonderwijs, and is essentially the umbrella name for adult education. There are several CVO schools in Antwerp and all follow, more or less, the same language trajectory i.e. 1.1 to 4.2 (see image above).
In Antwerp there are four institutions operating along this style: CVO Antwerpen, CVO Encora, CVO LBC & CVO Sopro and all have various schools located around Antwerp. CVO LBC and CVO Sopro have a nice bound book from which to work, while CVO Antwerpen and CVO Encora provide a folder and A4 handouts. Focus tends to be on using the language and learning by use with less in the way of detailed explanation of grammar and rules. The quality is mainly dictated by the teacher and the experience you have is also influenced by your fellow classmates.
Each course has its own advantages and disadvantages. The Linguapolis exams are more difficult (e.g. I passed level 3.2 at a CVO school with 77%, but failed Linguapolis Level 4 afterwards – they are both supposed to be to a B2 level in the European Framework of Reference for Languages). Anyway, I hope you find this brief overview of some of the available options for learning Dutch in Antwerp useful. In addition to these options, there are private teachers and a school called Berlitz. There are also Facebook and meet-up groups that organise social meet ups where you can practise your new Dutch skills. Happy learning!
Where are you from and what brought you to Antwerp?
I’m from Poland and I came to Antwerp in 1996 as an au pair. I was learning languages (English and Dutch). I fell in love with Belgium and so I didn’t go back to Poland!
I stayed and I met my present husband, and also found a job with Colruyt: I started as a saleswoman and went on to become a department head.
After 12 years I stopped. I experienced depression and burn-out so I decided to do something else. I opened my own shop selling leather bags in the centre of Antwerp (on the Nationalestraat). It was a struggle to work there at the time when the city was rebuilding that area.
I was always working with people and for people, so when one day I opened email and workshop /certification for life coach popped up, it felt like a calling.
What work do you do here in Antwerp?
I’m a certified life coach which means helping clients with personal development. I assist with work /life /business balance. I have experience in business management and in helping my clients to find different pathways to success and happiness. Some clients want to find balance, and to have more quality time for themselves and family . What do you feel are the challenges of adapting to life in Antwerp?
For me was the language! What do you like best about living here?
I love the possibility to develop a mindset of growth and travel. What I mean by this is to just be grateful and live now: not later – enjoying the moment and not being overly-preoccupied by the future.
Tell us about something typically Polish that you miss.
Family- mainly I miss my mother, especially since my father passed away a couple of months ago. Poles are very family-orientated, especially at Christmas
Poles have a rich culture of dance, music, history . We also have very beautiful cities: Krakow is one of them
Our food is different: we eat a lot of soup, and a special cheese cake .”Ogorki kiszone” (pickled cucumbers) is another Polish specialty.
I really recommend Poland as a place to visit or for a holiday.
You have a lot of contact with Antwerp’s Polish community. Can you tell us a little more about the community and its contribution to Antwerp?
Yes, I work with a lot of Polish people. They are talented and they are hard workers.They are not afraid of effort and commitment. Polish people are not only to be associated with the cleaning sector or construction, but make important cultural contributions too: as musicians and entrepreneurs, for example. There are more than 20,000 Polish people in Antwerp.
Our community is very rich in culture and talent. We are sometimes afraid to show it but I’d like to change that and wish that we would show more of our creativity, spirituality and love of nature
We have Polish schools and shops in Antwerp and other Belgian cities, so that Belgian people can try Polish products and explore Polish culture, or tasty Polish food. We have a Polish football team and a Women’s Volleyball team too.
We are open to learning, and sharing our achievements.We have a strong sense of community and a desire to help others.
1) Please tell us about Wwelcome: when, how and why it came to be established.
Wwelcome was established one year ago on April 1st 2018. While working for an insurance company, the two founders discovered a great need for personal assistance with the various sorts of documentation required of newcomers to Belgium.
Even though some organisations (including governmental) already provide administrative assistance, newcomers sometimes had challenging or negative experiences when trying to get their paperwork in order .
Our organisation supports immigrants to Belgium with whichever issues they bring to the table. It’s our mission to make them feel at home here: hence, Wwelcome.
2) What services do you offer and how are these funded?
Over the past year, we have noticed a great variety in the types of support that people need. Therefore we mostly operate in a Q&A style. Our members bring us letters, bills and contracts to translate and explain, or various application forms to enter. Sometimes, they ask for advice about immigration, naturalisation, buying a house or getting a divorce.
Next to explaining and offering advice, we mediate on behalf of our members with the government, insurance and energy companies, realtors, banks, employers, schools and landlords. Though we are not lawyers or accountants, we are the link between our members and these specialists.
All of this we provide for a monthly subscription of €10 (our “All-You-Can-Eat” formula!). If people prefer, we can also service for €10 per hour.
In addition we can accompany people to the hospital, police, OCMW, or any place else in order to interpret. We offer discounts at our partner organisations and various stores such as IKEA, Carrefour and Kinepolis. The more members we have, the bigger the discounts we can offer.
For business owners, we offer the above and a number of additional services. We support them with taking the first steps in establishing their business, creating financial plans, understanding social and health requirements, applying for loans and by advertising them through our media platforms. Business owners pay a different membership fee, depending on the type and size of their business.
3) What are the most common challenges or difficulties experienced by newcomers to Antwerp?
The most common challenges that are brought to our attention are firstly, communication and arranging matters with the government and aligned associations. Bureaucracies are not always open-minded or willing to communicate in English, and people often don’t know what they are expected to do next. Even for Dutch-speakers, it is often difficult to grasp what is meant by some of the letters newcomers receive. Secondly, problems with justifying bills: many people just pay the invoice as is, even though they could reduce a payment by giving the correct information and not have to pay the (entire) bill. This means they avoid paying for a service that they don’t receive or don’t want.
4) Many are concerned by the rise in populism across Europe at the moment, and the racism, anti-immigrant or xenophobic feelings which accompany this rise. Is this something that is a you notice here in your work, or in your personal experiences?
We don’t come across direct racism. However, many people experience discrimination at an institutional level (government or companies) due to the fact that they cannot advocate for themselves in Dutch.
We notice that sometimes organisations (also landlords, employers and even business partners) try to outsmart our members. However, when we make the call or write the mail, they are quick to respond with “sorry, yes, I understand…”.
There also happens to be a rule that for administrative *Artikel 60 work, Muslim women are required to take off their scarf. If they don’t, they are fired and lose their allowance.
5) In your line of work, what does success look like?
Everyday success for us is bringing peace of mind to our members, resolving their worries and offering an optimistic view of their future.
Long-term success would be a flourishing organisation throughout Europe where we can touch the lives of millions of immigrants; welcoming them with open arms and providing an antidote to the negative populist voices. When people feel welcome, they are keen to contribute positively to the communities that they have made their home.
Wwelcome is located at Bredabaan 371 in Merksem. If you’re coming by tram, then trams 2 & 3 stop almost outside our office at the stop called Burgemeester Nolf.
Tell us about when and why Chef’s Cut was established?
Established in 2012, The Chef’s Cut was set up to cater for a very specific niche of the culinary market: foodies and professionals alike, who like to travel to the foods’ places of origins, and to cook with the locals.
What services do you offer?
We offer culinary tours, professional cooking courses, barista courses, wine evening experiences and culinary consultation.
I hear you have started offering some experiences at a more accessible price – can you share some information about these?
We have identified a more moderate, differentiated niche for wine lovers. We have therefore decided to offer two types of wine evening experiences: the exclusive wine evenings, starting from € 85.- p/p; then the moderate wine evenings, starting at € 35.- p/p
Do you think that food and drink has a special role in bringing people of different backgrounds and origins together?
Not only do we think so, but we have some clear cut evidence that indeed this is so!
Tell us about the experts who lead guests through the food and wine experiences?
We are now in the process of bringing on board a Spanish Sommelier for our Spanish wine collection, and a local Belgium sommelier who will talk about our unique Eastern European wines.
To what extent does Antwerp have a good culinary scene for “foodies”?
Very much so. Antwerp can pride itself on having numerous restaurants and offering a very multicultural cuisine (it’s the city with the highest number of restaurant per capita in Europe). It has always been a hub where culinary trends are set.
An Evening At The Chef’s Cut
I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to a Chef’s Cut wine tasting last week. I should probably be clear that although I regularly enjoy wine, I don’t really know anything about it, so it could be that such an evening would be an intimidating experience, however this was not the case. The sommelier (Alexis Caraux; pic left) was very relaxed, informative and hit precisely the right tone for this occasion, clearly reaching both inexperienced tasters like myself, and those present who knew a bit more. The evening was held in English and those present came from a variety of places.
The food provided to enjoy with the wines was really delicious. I’m vegetarian so didn’t take the meat, but my partner assures me that it was good, and I certainly enjoyed the cheeses.
The costs of this evening is 35 euros, which is a bit more than events and locations I tend include on this blog. However, I think this was great value, given that the price includes the aforementioned foods, a knowledgable sommelier to talk you through the experiences, and the chance to try seven different wines; ones which it is unlikely that you would ordinarily have the chance to taste, since they were described as a little “off the beaten track”.
If -like me you- don’t know a great deal about wine-tasting events it’s an accessible and informative introduction, and a chance to meet some new people. If you have a date that you’d like to impress or treat, this would be a classy way of doing so.
As part of their English Professional Communication course within the University of Antwerp Master in Multilingual Professional Communication, Dutch-speaking students were asked to create a podcast or vodcast explaining how Antwerp entrepreneurs define luxury. Sixteen groups of students took part, and Nessascityblog gets to showcase one chosen vodcast (all about Le Labo Perfume store on Wapper) here! This assignment was set by Prof. Tom Van Hout and assisted by lecturer Stephanie Hughes. Congratulations to Rani, Ellen and Lotte: the students who made the selected vodcast, which you can read about and watch below.
Why did you choose Le Labo?
For our assignment we had to find a venue that defined ‘luxury’. Upon entering the store, we were immediately overwhelmed by the kind of luxury that Le Labo embodies. We chose Le Labo for its simplicity as it is not lavishly decorated. The only element outside the store is a simple sign with Le Labo on. We share the opinion that this is a way of expressing luxury; one you might not expect. For example it does not contain a fancy interior with a lot of drama and champagne at the entrance. Le Labo obtains luxury by creating an experience for their customers, by focussing on what is most important for them: the scent. This focus on the experience is what got us hooked.
In your opinion, what makes Le Labo special? Le Labo draws attention to their scents. They do not want to use overly-decorated bottles, promotions or advertisements. As they state on their website, they share the opinion that there are too many bottles of perfume, and not enough soulful fragrances. They emphasise the importance of the soul – formed through the intention with which a product is created and the attention with which it is prepared. In other words, Le Labo believes that the main focus should be on the experience. You can choose your own scent and they will hand-blend your bottle on the spot, while you can watch the whole process. The store also stresses their use of natural elements. Le Labo really wants to go back to basics, and they also make sure everyone is able to enjoy their perfumes by taking potential customer allergies into account.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to make a podcast/ vodcast for the first time?
As a team, we were extremely lucky to find a place that we all really liked. From the beginning, we felt a strong connection with Le Labo. Additionally, Marty (the store supervisor and lab technician) said to us: “all three of you were really open and you could see your interest and excitement from the start. If you did not have that vibe, we, from Le Labo, would not have given you the freedom we gave to you now.” We stumbled upon this place that struck a passion within. Immediately, we wanted to know more. Therefore, we believe that one of the most important things is that you choose a subject that you are actually passionate about. If you are, it will be both a fun and educational process that you are eager to work on. Your passion and interest will also be noticed by people in the end result. Furthermore, it is important when you work in a group to know each person’s strengths and weaknesses. It is important to be able to complement and help each other throughout the process. Each one of us has different specialities and these complemented each other smoothly. As a result, we were able to create this fun group project that we are all very proud of.
Watch the vodcast made by Ellen, Rani & Lotte here:
The three students who created the Le Labo vodcast are:
Ellen Weeremans Hi, my name is Ellen. Before I started my Masters in Multilingual Professional Communication, I studied an academic bachelor in Linguistics and Literature: English-Theatre, Film and Literature. MPC (Multilingual Professional Communication) sparked my interest as the course expand on concepts such as marketing and communication. For me to turn away from literature and start to learn something new entirely was exciting. I could now deepen my understanding of concepts that I had not heard about in the last three years. This was was both extremely scary and appealing. Right now, we are in the second semester and already I feel that I have learned so much more than I thought I would.
Rani Konings Hello, my name is Rani. I studied Linguistics and Literature in English and Dutch. I am currently following the Master’s program in Multilingual Professional Communication (MPC) at the University of Antwerp. For me, MPC was a logical choice. I wanted something different and more challenging. The combination of professional communication and marketing gives you a wide range of possibilities. In my opinion, this Masters is an excellent way to direct your language skills to a more professional level. It prepares you well for future job opportunities.
Lotte Van Ende Hello, my name is Lotte. I have a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Literature (English – Spanish) and am now studying the Master in Multilingual Professional Communication at the University of Antwerp. I chose MPC mostly because I was ready for something new and challenging. I have not regretted this choice for a single moment as MPC offers a very wide range of subjects. I am learning to communicate at a professional level and also get to know more about marketing and management. For me, studying MPC really prepares students for the future and opens the door to many different job opportunities.
If you love Antwerp and you love wine, then we have good news for you!
At the end of last year I launched a new wine concept called “Fine Wine Junkies” which could become a new standard for how to consume and experience wine in the Antwerp region.
Fine Wine Junkies is a start-up which saw the light after I experienced that acquiring the right wine at the right moment was not always easy. As a matter of fact, the lack of services enabling enjoyment of a fine wine, stylishly presented and brought to your home (or other location) at the right temperature, made it clear that there was a gap to fill in Antwerp: bringing fine wine to fine people’s homes!
Fine Wine Junkies aims to stand out by offering clients a wine list which is far from what they may have previously experienced: no big classic vineyards or big names; a very limited French range of wines; a focus on new world wine countries and last -but not least – competitive pricing form the core values of FineWineJunkies. The wines offered originate from countries like Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and of course Belgium. Belgians -due to their modesty- often overlook the fact that that we ourselves can and do make great wines, right here in Belgium .
Fine Wine Junkies is above all an Antwerp brand, but also a proud Belgian company, and thus offers some of these fine Belgian wines. At this moment we partner with Genoels -Elderen, one of the better-known wineries here in Belgium. We offer their complete range of white, red and bubbles. But there will be more: as we speak, we are working out new partnerships with a range of smaller and less well- known wineries in Belgium. We expect to offer some very exclusive and difficult-to-obtain Belgian wines in the near future. As the seasons change throughout the year, so the menu will also change in order to offer wines appropriate to each season.
The next question is: how do we bring fine wine to fine people’s home?
Fine Wine Junkies is available via both UberEats and Deliveroo, and customers will have their fine selection delivered to their door in under thirty minutes.
Alongside the direct-delivery service, Fine Wine Junkies runs a regular webshop:www.finewinejunkies.com, where larger quantities can be ordered and delivered within three days.
In 2019 Fine Wine Junkies will further explore B2B concepts on which we are presently working. Those new concepts will offer a diverse range of services perfectly fitted for B2B purposes to companies.
Broadening our market with direct-delivery, regular e-commerce activities, B2B concepts and even a wine tasting bar, should mean that Fine Wine Junkies becomes a byword for fine wine in Antwerp.
Find Fine Wine Junkies on Facebook and Instagram (Images for this post provided by Fine Wine Junkies)
Starting up in Antwerp?
Well, naturally, you will need an idea: a product, a service or a combination of both; a financial plan to cover the start-up phase; a marketing plan (most probably based on market research you did) and a commercial plan regarding how to sell your products or services to your clients.
Cities like Antwerp are happy with people who want to translate their creative ideas into businesses. It’s good for the image and the well-being of the city. If you are interested, begin your start-up journey at Ondernemen in Antwerpen.
NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
A trip to the Plantin Moretus museum (left) provided the inspiration for this guest post by Daniel McBrearty.
Are you deluged by data, fazed by fake news, or stressed out from trying to find a teaspoon of facts in a sea of information? What you need is some historical perspective, and Antwerp’s Plantin Moretus Museum is the perfect place to find it …
Christophe Plantin, a native Frenchman and Humanist who became a powerful Antwerp businessman, could reasonably be called the Steve Jobs of the 16th century. He founded one of the three most important printing presses in Europe, and by 1550 he was one of the biggest publishers in the world, with sixteen operational presses and employing fifty people. The technology he used, along with much of his considerable wealth and countless books, are lovingly preserved in the Plantin Moretus Museum, on the Vrijdagmaarkt.
As well as physical artefacts, the Museum has done a wonderful (and timely, given the impact of the internet on our own times) job of placing Moretus’s considerable influence in a historical context. Their current exhibition, “Baroque Book Design”, fuses the work of Rubens and others -as part of the city’s the publishing industry- with insightful observation on social conditions of the time.
After Plantin’s death, the business was taken over by Jan Moretus, his son-in-law, and the family continued to dominate European publishing for the next 150 years. The printing press was a real challenge to the Catholic church, which had relied on the inability of an illiterate public to interpret the Bible without the help of priests. Gutenberg’s invention broke forever that monopoly of belief.
Books – now twenty times faster to produce, and much cheaper- became more widely available. An information revolution as big as our own, was underway. Schools of language, medicine, science and religion serviced a knowledge-hungry public, and created huge demand, which the Plantin-Moretus family was more than willing to supply. With a technology based on pouring lead into stamped copper moulds to make type, which was then manually assembled into pages, their team of craftsmen produced, over several years, a staggering 500,000 copies of one small book of language exercises – this being just one of countless volumes from the house.
Revolutions of belief soon led to violence, followed by a formidable backlash from the Vatican. Europe was beset by rebellion and repression. Catholic Spain and the Protestant Netherlands went to war, and Antwerp caught right between them. As well as Bibles in many languages, The Plantin Press had been publishing translations of Latin and Greek philosophers, and works which spread new scientific research. But a crackdown from the church forced an end to the dissemination of such dangerous ideas. The Plantin-Moretus family, however, were clearly astute diplomats as well as businesspeople, managers, and technicians. Not only did they survive, they became at various times, official printers and typographers to the Dutch, the Spanish and the Church.
Then, as now, the real benefits of the new technology were not immediately felt by common people. In fact it took several hundred years, and much argument and bloodshed, before they led to real improvement in living conditions.
As well as his beautiful drawings and engraved copper plates, the Museum possesses many paintings by Rubens, who was one of the favourite illustrators used by the Moretus family. Everywhere you feel his portraits gazing at you. His subjects included (as well as the nobility and the clergy) workers at the house. For me, they show an honest astuteness which lesser artists lack – rather like a modern artist such as Milo Manara, he has the rare ability to capture something of the soul of his subjects.
Entrance to the Museum is inexpensive (6€ or 8€ depending on age), or free with an A-kaart. Staff are friendly and helpful, and on a weekday the space is fairly uncrowded. You can take refreshment in one of Vrijdaagmaarkt’s excellent cafes and restaurants and then stroll back in with no problem. Photography is permitted without flash.
So, if the internet revolution has left you dazed and confused, or if you simply fancy an entertaining, thought-provoking few hours, I highly recommend Plantin-Moretus Museum. After all, we’ve been here before, and it helps to be reminded of that.
Daniel McBrearty is a father, jazz clarinet and sax player, singer-songwriter and electronics whiz who has made his home in Antwerp since 2001.
Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?
I’m from Mendoza, in western Argentina. My city is the proud wine capital of South America and lays at the feet of the Andes.
I first came to Belgium in June 2016 for holidays and during that trip met my spouse, who is from the Netherlands. Ten months later we were married in Antwerp!
Tell us about your job.
I’m the Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. I simply love my job: I’m responsible for the 100% of the sales figures of our cafe (groups, leisure, corporate and individuals) and contracting with business partners. Being the spokesman and image of the brand in the Flemish region, I plan, budget and execute the yearly event calendar. I’m also responsible for the marketing communication of our cafe.
You are right at the heart of an area very popular with tourists. What’s that like and how is the tourism business faring in Antwerp at the moment?
We are indeed at the core of everything that happens in Antwerp. Tourism figures are growing considerably every year in the city, but at the moment there is a big focus on the business traveler, weekdays and weekend visitors from neighbouring areas who come mainly for shopping, people interested in the cultural aspects of the city, and plenty of foodies. Like many in the hospitality industry, we’re aiming for major growth in the long-stay leisure traveler segment, mainly the international one. That is certainly one big area of opportunity compared to other destinations in the Benelux, and hopefully with the increasing number of cruise ships calling at the port of Antwerp, there will be much better results.
Can a place like Hard Rock be something that is both for locals and tourists, or do you think of them as being very separate demographics?
Combining the two of them is the exact key for what an authentically genuine Hard Rock Cafe must be. We are a worldwide well-known reference for tourists, and as such our cafes are an attraction. But the strength of our business resides in the local community; both Flemish and expats. Therefore our events and initiatives welcome everybody, without putting our guests into boxes. Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp is our house, and that’s how we like to be seen.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
2019 is a year full of ambitions for us as a cafe. In March we will have been open for two years and that is something we’re immensely happy about. My personal and professional goal is to enhance our fans’ experience, and create genuine experiences that rock. Undoubtedly it will be an amazing year!
What do you like best about living in Antwerp, and what do you miss about your home country?
I totally love that Antwerp is such an international city; a hub for business, its also offers plenty of heritage and culture, as well as amazing shops and museums to visit, and I love the fact that is so beautiful. I’ve lived in many countries before coming here, and been out of Argentina for more than seven years… I wouldn’t say I really “miss” something about my country because I receive visits from friends and family at least once a month, and I go to Argentina twice a year. The nature over there is breathtaking, so I try to reconnect with that every time I’m back.