INTERVIEW | Elena Petresca: Belgium was love at first sight, I couldn't wait to see our new home

Photo: Private archive

The pop singer Elena Petreska moved to Belgium. After the husband Andrej received a job offer in the Belgian city Mons, the decision to leave Macedonia was not easy. Elena in Skopje, has been part of the Macedonian Opera for 16 years, and has her own band. But, as she says, the desire for change, as well as the support of her husband, was reason enough for her to move to Belgium.

You have been in Belgium for five months, why did you leave Macedonia?

- We came to Belgium because of my husband Andrej's work. We decided to take on this challenge and we're really glad, because we both felt we needed a change.
The decision was not quick. It took more than a year of thinking after Andrei received the job offer.

Photo: Private archive

Has he already adapted to the new environment?

– When we made the final decision, we were already focusing on moving and there was more of a positive euphoria. Honestly, we were looking forward to the new home. It was not difficult for me to adapt. I think I succeeded very quickly. Belgium was love at first sight, I felt like I couldn't wait to come here. To be honest, I have never been more present in the present.

Are you really that happy there?

- Yes. I enjoy every detail, every piece of art, the beautiful places and cities that Belgium has. And, it's strange that it was never even in my mind as an option, and even I never thought that I would live anywhere else but in Macedonia. But sometimes life gives opportunities to get to know other cultures, to expand horizons, to feel life from another perspective. And I'm really glad and grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Photo: Private archive

What kind of city is Mons? What are the people like here? Do you have friends to have coffee with?

- Mons is a beautiful city, it has art, exhibitions, museums... The whole city is authentic with older buildings, which I like very much. Honestly, it is very different from here. People here are relaxed, smiling, everyone looks after themselves, no one burdens anyone, there are no prejudices, you feel that freedom of being completely yourself. I also have a lot of friends, we hang out for coffee, at afterwork... I also have friends in the surrounding countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, so we often travel or have guests on weekends.

How are you doing with French, it's hard anyway?

- Andrej and I both studied French at school, but we didn't use it, so we forget it. We know a few words, but far from a conversation. Fortunately, Belgians are very kind and helpful, some know English, with some we use "google translate", anyway, we manage.

You were employed at the Macedonian Opera, was it a difficult decision to give up your career to support your husband?

- Honestly, it was not easy, I was part of the opera for more than 16 years and it was the most difficult decision for me. But I'll say it again, I had some intuitive feeling in myself that I needed a change, so based on that feeling, I made the decision.

Photo: Private archive

What about the performances and your band?

- At the moment I have no scheduled performances, but when there are, of course I will come to Macedonia. I also have a band here, thanks to my colleague and friend Marko, who played with me before he left Macedonia. So, soon we will start with performances in Belgium and Holland. I have to say that I can't wait to start singing, because there is nothing I miss more than music.

What is Belgian cuisine like, what is the tradition there, have you learned any Belgian recipes?

- In Belgium there is a lot of sweets, cakes and mousses are available in every market at any time. Chocolates, Belgian chocolate shops abound. Puff pastry and croissants are also mild. Belgian cuisine is still not very familiar to me, I tried a specialty that is delicious, it's called "Carbonate Flamande" and it's something similar to our goulash, with veal and made with black Belgian beer.

How long will you stay in Belgium, what are your plans?

- Our status here is diplomatic, a three-year contract with the possibility of extension. Now - for now, our impressions are wonderful, we are still at the beginning, so I would not like to make a forecast as to how long we will be here.

How did all this change affect the children, did the crisis for Skopje catch them?

– Michael was excited, he couldn't wait to come, while Sofia still misses the company from school. However, they are both happy, they adjusted easily and they have wonderful friends here, which is very important to me. The husband came first, and we came three months later. The first day here was very emotional, full of love and happiness that we are all together again.

Photo: Private archive

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