A little over three years ago Bianca Sim started an adventure that would take her from BDO South Africa to BDO Belgium. A leap of faith that turned out to be definitely worth it.
The beginning of Bianca’s story at BDO Belgium
After growing up and studying in South-Africa, Bianca started working at BDO South-Africa. “After graduating, you have to complete a three year internship to become a chartered accountant.” The reason why Bianca chose BDO was because she was never the person To work for a huge multinational corporation, nor was she the person to work in a small family owned business. She likes to have a more personal experience with a broader range of clients which is the case when working at BDO. She wanted to work somewhere where she can make a difference and not just be a number.
Bianca met her husband at BDO South-Africa and when their three-year contract came to an end, they decided they wanted to go out and explore the world. Destination: unknown, as long as it’s a country with good food and where the language was comprehensible or easy to learn. As the HR-department at BDO South-Africa gave notice that BDO Belgium was looking for auditors, Bianca and her husband thought “why not?” and went head first into this exciting new part of their life.
Even though the two expats came to Belgium unprepared and didn’t fully know what to expect, BDO Belgium was very supportive in guiding their journey. “They supported us via a recruitment and relocating agency which really helped a lot. You might think it’s just a different place but in reality, everything is different and there’s a whole different culture.” When asked what Bianca misses the most from South Africa, she said: “Of course I miss my family and the big events that take place like birthdays but I equally miss the small things and the food as well, especially the meat and the braai’s, but we try to have those occasionally here in Belgium with other South Africans.”
The biggest difference? The weather! And the food!
One of the biggest differences for Bianca between South Africa and Belgium is the weather.
“You know Europe is cold and wet but you can’t really imagine how it is until you get here so be prepared. However, the snow is amazing, every time it snows we are so in awe.” Another significant (positive) difference is the Belgian administration: “even though it can take a while before you’re in the system, when you are, everything works just really well. In general, it’s a very well-functioning country.”
Another thing Bianca and her husband realised after being in Belgium for little over three years is that you can’t just come to Belgium for one or two years. “After two years you start to get integrated and start to appreciate Belgium for what it is. Whenever you feel homesick, you should find comfort in doing something that you love, in our case that was travelling.”
Tips & Tricks for other colleagues coming from BDO South-Africa
Bianca was kind enough to share some tips & tricks for BDO colleagues coming to Belgium from another country:
“You should really take into account the language barrier. In a working environment English is fine but in your personal life this can be much more difficult. If you’re in need of for example a plumber or a doctor, you need to be able to speak Dutch or French. That’s why my main tip is: start learning one of the languages.”
Bianca finished with another golden tip for everyone who thinks about moving to another country: ‘do it, otherwise you’ll regret it. Step out of your comfort zone and try it, it’s so worth it!”