Wednesday is Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People day!
Today we have the great chance to present you Lena. I met her through her Crème de la Crème group and I have been truly taken away by her vitality and capability to talk about politics, religion and Kim Kardashian in the same forum.
But I don’t want to spoil the surprise, read her interview to discover more – and maybe be part of it!
Hello and welcome at Barefoot in Luxembourg for a new episode of our series “Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people”, thank you for joining.
Go ahead and tell us more about yourself!
My name is Lena Baraka. I am British-Sudanese and moved from the UK to Luxembourg 3 years ago with my Luxembourgish husband who was working in London when we met.
I was seven months pregnant when we arrived and had just started my maternity leave after leaving my post as a dentist in London. Work took a backseat as I quickly became involved with mums’ clubs and various activities in Luxembourg. Brunches, Lunches and workshops took over my life and from a social aspect, it was a good thing. If you’re a mum and new to Luxembourg, you’ve definitely come to the right place. I never got the chance to feel homesick or depressed until I received a letter from the medical governing body informing me that to be able to become registered as a dentist here, I had to speak fluent French, Luxembourgish or German! So, I cried for a whole week. I complained to my husband nonstop and to everyone who was prepared to listen. I realized soon after that I needed to make a choice. Complaining was not going to get me anywhere. So, I started with French classes and told myself that this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I could take some time off my career to learn a new language and pursue other interests whilst taking care of my newborn. I felt very blessed as I was in a position where I didn’t really need to work and my husband fully supported me.
Looking back, I have to admit that it wasn’t the easiest challenge. You need a lot of focus, determination and a desire to immerse yourself in the French culture, and I didn’t have that. French didn’t really come that naturally to me as all my friends conversed in English. All my husband’s Lux and French friends wanted to talk to me in English apart from the occasional one off where someone chose to humour me. It was also mainly my fault. I was very reluctant to speak as I felt my real social side and true character could never truly come across or be conveyed in a foreign language so instead, I embraced that fact that English was the preferred language of choice by all! As for my husband and I, we got so used to communicating in English despite his best efforts to try to use his French to improve mine! I was lucky to have some amazing and inspirational teachers that kept me going and kept motivating me until the end. Thank you F & C. I start my job as a general dentist in Hesperange as of next month! Come find me!
Looks like it was a very challenging journey – I have been in Luxembourg for 10 years and I still cannot speak French at professional level, so this is really impressive to me🙂 Now can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your Crème de la Crème project we anticipated in the introduction?
So between my duties as a new mother, a French student and a budding makeup artist, I started a new group on Facebook called Crème de la Crème. I’ve always felt blessed and thankful to have the valuable gift of friendship from some wonderful, talented and inspirational women around me. I thought to myself one day, why not share this gift and create a group that connects these women?
As word slowly spread, the group demographic started to diversify to include women from all over the world. These strong, independent, well travelled and cultured women were more than happy to share honest tips on all walks of life. Questions came rolling in and recommendations followed. The Facebook group felt like a “trip advisor” for life and popular topics included health, beauty products, diet, travel, food, movies, arts and even branched further to offer advice on love and relationships. We waved goodbye to the dull and impersonal manner of receiving reviews online and openly welcomed this new and exciting format of delivery through ‘girl talk’! What started with 20 of my close girlfriends chatting is now host to around 4000 ladies and we are continually growing.
I am part of it, so I can really say this is amazing. So why ladies in Luxembourg should be interested in Crème de la Crème ?
Simply because it is fun! We are a support network for women worldwide, but at the same time we discuss everything and nothing is off limits. We had our first social event at the beginning of October and 30 awesome women came and showed their support and willingness to connect and socialize. It really was a huge success and I have Siobhain Engman, a fellow Crème lady who took charge of organizing the entire event to thank.
We are currently promoting our next Christmas Ladies night which will take place at Barrels Bar in December. Feel free to come along and mingle, the more the merrier!
It is definitely on my agenda! What are then the best three things about Crème de la Crème and what do you personally enjoy most about that?
Connecting with other likeminded women
Getting on the spot advice on pretty much anything! Bye bye google!!!
Expanding your horizons and learning about different cultures.
Coming back to your Luxembourg background, you already said above you have been here for 3 years. What is your most beloved place in the city?
I love the Grund. Never get bored of walking around and taking in the views.
What is your favorite restaurant in Luxembourg?
What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?
Not much of a night-life party person anymore! I like The Tube bar though for a piece of England with me.
What do you like about Luxembourg life?
I like the simplicity of life here. Granted having a husband from Luxembourg has been really useful especially when dealing with administrational matters, receiving official letters, bills (even in English I pretend not to understand now lol). Schools are great, it is safe, perfect for families, you have parks everywhere, you are well connected to some of the best European capitals and cities, you arrive everywhere in 5 minutes. It also has a great artistic scene, theatre, festivals, concerts but you have to stay informed. Events don’t come jumping right at you but if you look, you find. The fact that it is a small country as well is a huge advantage for entrepreneurs and new business ventures. The competition is not as stiff so you have more room to shine and stand out.
What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?
I miss Starbucks and Nando’s! I would change nothing.
I also definitely would love to have Nando’s in Luxembourg! What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?
Antwerp! But you have to come back with a ring!🙂
And lastly, to conclude, what is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?