Luxembourg, a view from someone who left
Leaving your native country is exhilarating at first. Everything is so new that you don’t think about your old home. Once you have settled into a routine, you start to notice the differences between your old home and your new one. Three years after leaving Luxembourg for Canada, I look back on my home country with different eyes.
The calm and quiet of everyday Luxembourg life certainly can be perceived as boring. Shops close at 6pm and usually remain so on Sundays, and after that, people tend to spend the evenings inside making for little foot traffic. Except for the bustling streets on the eves of Luxembourgish National Day on June 23, recalling feeling squished among too many people is difficult. With a population of just over half a million people, you don’t have to stand in line for long or rush to the swimming pool on a hot day before they reach capacity. It’s easy to appreciate the peaceful simplicity of Luxembourg life after experiencing long queues, overcrowded events and noisy streets in Toronto.
Canada sure boasts a magnificent landscape from the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia to the Niagara Falls in Ontario. Travelling to these places requires expensive flight tickets, long drives or both. Luxembourg, though small, features beautiful forests, castles and an incredible history going back to 963 when Count Siegfried acquired Lucilinburhuc, now known as Luxembourg Castle. This quaint country lies in the heart of Europe with quick access to Amsterdam, Paris, London, Berlin and Rome, all under two-hour flights.
Noting the vast difference in size between Luxembourg and Canada, it is interesting that both economies are doing so well on a global level. Previously a poor farming nation taxed in the 19th century by William I, King of the Netherlands, Luxembourg’s economic rise started with steel in the 1960s and has since moved on to services, banking and finance where it consistently scores top GDP performance as well as being the world’s second largest investment fund centre behind the US and a European leader in private banking and reinsurance.
Luxembourg, a country that fits into Lake Ontario around 31 times, is continuing to surprise in terms of quality of life to its residents, business innovation to its investors, and nostalgia to those who left.