Luxembourg is a tiny country. For you Bellinghamsters, from east to west Luxembourg is about as wide as the distance from Bellingham to Glacier; north-south it’s about from Bellingham to Everett. Yet, within that 999 square miles, they have three official languages—Luxembourgish, French and German. English is not an official one but most people here speak it, or at least “a lee-tel bit,” usually said while wincing and holding up a hand to show a small space between thumb and index finger. Go to an cash machine here and you have five language options, the above four and Portuguese. (There are some 60,000 Portuguese or people of Portuguese descent in Luxembourg, about 13 percent of the total population.)
Lots of people seem to think that Luxembourg is a city in another country. When we’d tell people we were moving here, many said, “That’s in Germany, right?” When my mother went to her local post office in Florida to mail me a letter, the woman behind the counter insisted that my mother include a country. Even though my mother had properly addressed the letter.
“Don’t blame me when it doesn’t get there,” the woman said.
Luxembourg is a small country so it makes sense that its postal codes are short: an ‘L’, followed by four digits. (Ours is L-2128, for anyone who’d like to send us unsolicited checks.) Phone numbers are a different story. They seem to be six, seven, sometimes eight numbers. I’m never really sure. Timewise, Luxembourg goes by the 24-hour clock, which I’m pretty good at until I get to about 17:00, which takes me a moment to realize is 5, not 7 p.m. I get better again when it gets to 22:00, which I know is 10 p.m. From there, I’m fine. 23.00 is the 11th hour, as it were. Datewise, though I’m still pretty screwed. The day and month are switched. So a day like today, April 3 (4/3/2013), is especially confusing because here it’s 3/4/2013. But wasn’t that last month, my brain keeps asking.