Paul and I are moving to Brussels in mid-September!
Our leaving Hong Kong has nothing to do with the unrest in this city these past months. Actually, our plans to move to Europe have been underway for about a year. It was the destination that was uncertain until last June.
Paul is now at the end of five years with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. He has successfully opened two of the district’s facilities: the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera and Freespace, a large-scale black-box theatre. He is more than ready for a change of scene and will finish working as an employee of WKCDA this month. After that, he’s hanging out his shingle as “Paul Hennig Consulting Limited”— sexy huh??—and will work as a consultant specializing in performing arts facility development.
Paul’s first contract will actually be with WKCDA. Starting in November, he will consult to them and travel to Hong Kong regularly. He also hopes to pick up additional work in the UK and Europe.
Given that HK is such an expensive place to live, we made the decision some time ago to move to the UK or Europe which would provide the best base for him to commute to and communicate with HK regularly and position him to pursue contracts elsewhere. His only criteria for where to settle was good access to an international airport.
My criteria for our move was that we land somewhere where I could resume my carillon studies. After much consideration, I proposed we go to Belgium, which is the heartland of the carillon world and home to the Royal Carillon School where I studied for a month in 2014. (See also Hong Kong to Belgium…) A little research showed that we could facilitate the move if I went there on a student visa and Paul joined me via a family reunification visa. After jumping through the hoops of the application process, both our visas were approved by mid-July. The Belgian consul in Hong Kong provided awesome service.
Although the school is in Mechelen, we have decided to settle in Brussels which offers far more housing options. The down side of this is that I will have a 50 to 60-minute commute a few times a week, so I am on the hunt for a practice carillon for our new home so that I don’t have to commute just to practice.
We will move out of our Hong Kong apartment in mid-September. Our household goods will arrive in Brussels at the end of October and I’ll start school soon after.
Our daughter plans to stay in Hong Kong. She has a good job with Premiere Performances of Hong Kong and a strong group of friends. As we were weighing options about leaving, she always said she didn’t feel that she was finished here quite yet. I can understand her appreciation for all the extraordinary things that Hong Kong has to offer and her desire to squeeze all the adventures she can into her time here.
We feel incredibly blessed for having had the opportunity to live and work in Hong Kong for the past five years. Living in a new culture has given me a whole new perspective on my place in the world and what it means to be Canadian. This move has given me a world of experiences I’ll always treasure.
We really appreciated all the friends and family who visited us here in HK and hope we’ll have many more in our new home in Europe. Not only can we treat you to Belgian beer and chocolate, but I can also give you a carillon recital!
From the L-O-N-G hiatus on my blog, it will be no surprise that I will not continue it. Most of you know where to find me, and I sincerely hope you’ll stay in touch.
Very best wishes.