Sunday, March 28, 2010

There's no place like home

My apartment in Antwerp

Eating fries at the cafetaria around the corner. Buying a bread at the Turkish store a few streets away. Drinking a beer in the pub where my girlfriend works. Looking out of the window of my apartment to see the beautiful facades of the houses. Limping out of the sports school after a tough training of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. Drinking a chai tea in the arty pub next to the laundromat while my wash is in the dryer.

It's the small things that makes you feel home, and it's the small things that you're going to miss the most. Even if you go back to do these things again, it's never going to be the same because it's simply not part of your life anymore. The more things I pack, the more I realize how I'm going to miss Antwerp, the city that was my home for more than two years.

March 2009. Yigit Unan, my teampartner in the first year of Duval Guillaume, was celebrating his last evening in Belgium. We drank a beer together, said goodbye and after that he left and I stayed there with my girlfriend. The rest of the place was partying on like nothing happened. It's a bizarre, empty feeling. And for some reason it felt like I was the one leaving. Because it was exactly like saying goodbye to a good friend before you step on a train or plane.

We, Miami Ad School graduates, know what it's like to leave a place. We've done it before. We left our homes, our countries, our friends and families because we share a common passion for the art of advertising. We left our home once, and we did it another two, three, four times in the second year, when we went for an internship every quarter. We don't stay where our life is, we go where our work is. Everywhere we go we leave behind a trail of lives, loves, homes and friends. And we take planes like we're stepping into the subway train. Because we know we have to move on. We're the gypsies of marketing, the pilgrims of our career. And wherever we go, we think it's our new home. But it's not true. It just feels like it. Even if you go back to your country of birth or a place you've been before. Because for nomads like us there really is no place like home...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I'm used to changes. In the Miami Ad School you're trained to give up the place where you live, buy a ticket, pack your bags and go somewhere you've never been before. It's all for the best and it gives you more chances to learn something.

But the change I'm going through is somehow more difficult than others. I've already found a new apartment at my next destination and today I called my landlord to tell him I want to leave my apartment in Antwerp. An apartment where I've lived with so much joy for the last few years. In a beatiful city where I've met new friends and where I even met my girlfriend. It suddenly struck me... I'm going to leave.

Why would you leave a place that you love so much? Why would anyone leave his old comfortable life and choose to go on and travel like a gypsy. I think I can do it because I know I can still cope with these changes. I don't possess a lot of stuff, I don't have children who want to stay with their friends in the same school and I'm looking forward to a new milestone in my career. Oh... and of course there's the excitement of living in a city where I've never lived before.

People who can't stand changes often look at what has been good in their life, instead of looking at what could be even better.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

180 degrees

Have you ever been in the situation that you have to make a life changing decision? A decision that causes a 180 degree turn? Whatever new road you're going into, before the decision you're picturing your new life in your head. You see where you're going to live. In which part of the world. How your new job will be. It's like a trailer for the film about the rest of your life.

If you're not afraid of change and you just go wherever the best job opportunity is, you're bound to get these 180-degree scenarios. So it's no surprise that these last few months it happened a lot to me. I pictured myself in Brussels, in Leuven, in Hamburg, in Amsterdam and sometimes back in Antwerp again where I would continue my own comfortable life in my nice apartment. These last few weeks it was even crazier. The one day I saw one future in front of me and the next I saw a different one. There were so many mental U-turns, that it made me dizzy.

But finally the fog disappears. My future situation seems more clear now. Last week I got a phonecall from an agency that wants to hire me and I told them: "yes". I can't tell anything until I've signed but I'm going to do that very soon. What I can tell is that my life is going to change and this will probably be the my most interesting career move ever. Until then, my days in Antwerp are filled with nothing to do. Finally a real vacation.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

LDV United

Me standing at the windows of the office
For the first time in more than two years I finally work at another agency again. Was it worth it to work at an agency instead of enjoying my spare time now that I left Duval Guillaume? Definitely. LDV is a great place to work. Besides, the agency is at the harbour of Antwerp, only 5 minutes by foot from my house. So working here this week actually felt like vacation because I could get out of bed late and I arrived home early.
I worked at in this beautiful buiding at the harbour of Antwerp with a new teampartner: Pierre Maes, a French talking copywriter. What, he's also a copywriter? Yes, but I teamed up with him because his book is full of great ideas and he has a no-nonsense and modest attitude. Putting two award winning creatives together doesn't necessarily make a good team, but in this case it did. We worked the whole week on a car brand and at the end of the week the client took our concept. Of course I can't tell anything about it yet, but it's going to be a really cool promotion at the car dealers that's going to be hard to miss.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Antwerp - Amsterdam - Alkmaar (and back)

Amsterdam is not exactly around the corner. So if you can plan two appointments on one day, you save time and money. Today I had two appointments in Amsterdam. One could only be scheduled early in the morning and one of them late in the afternoon. So what do you do in between? I didn't want to bore myself to death by pointlessly strolling through Amsterdam so I went to my parents in Alkmaar instead. Right now I'm there. For just a few hours. And at 17.00 I have an appointment in Amstelveen after which I go back to Antwerp again because tomorrow I have to work. It's going to be a long day, but at least it's an exciting one.