Sometimes life can be plain sailing…


Read how a trip to a EURES Adviser took Thomas Cole from the sturdy streets of Ghent to the decks of ‘La Nouvelle Etoile’, a luxury barge that cruises through Holland, Belgium, Germany and France. When Thomas Cole, 33, walked into his appointment with the EURES section of the Belgian public employment service, he had a truly open mind. Having decided to search for a job as a guide or tour leader, he was open to looking at opportunities both at home and abroad with the help of his EURES Adviser. So, when an advertisement for a guide on a touring barge caught the pair’s attention, he jumped at the chance. Shortly after applying Thomas drove to Holland for his interview – the company evidently liked him as he soon found out that he had been successful. Ready for the challenge of working abroad, he packed his rubber boots and set off.

‘La Nouvelle Etoile’ transports up to eight clients at a time up and down the waterways of Holland, Belgium, France and Germany, stopping at notable sites along the way. Thomas’ academic and professional background made him an excellent candidate for the position: his medieval history degree makes him a fountain of knowledge when they stop at historical towns, while his ability to speak English, French, German and Dutch is essential. Depending on the clients, he sometimes practises his Spanish and Italian too!

What Thomas particularly enjoys about his job is the variety – no two days are the same. He is up with the lark to go and get breakfast, plans and conducts tours, delivers the food on excursion days, and, when clients forget something and need it from land Thomas just might be able to get it for them if they ask nicely! The crew consists of five people, all working together to ensure the smooth running of their ship. Just like the diverse countries they sail through, the crew is international.

If it hadn’t been for EURES in Belgium Thomas would not have seen this advertisement. His EURES Adviser in Holland, Frans Buter was also really helpful, and continues to mentor him: “I really appreciate the help they gave me. At the beginning it was easy enough to move between Belgium and Holland, as it’s not such a large geographical leap, but I came up against some confusing insurance issues. EURES helped me to ensure that I was fully covered in Holland.”

Now that his seven-month contract is drawing to an end, Thomas is relieved to know that EURES is still there for him. Despite his enthusiasm for the open boarders of Europe and the ease with which one can move around, the issues of taxation and bureaucracy remain and EURES will definitely be receiving a call to ensure that his tax declarations have been correctly completed. That’s the advantage of working with experts!

Thomas has really enjoyed this job, which combines his desire to guide, his historical knowledge, and the use of his language skills. The winter season will bring him back to Belgium, but once spring comes round again no-one should be surprised to once more see him aboard ‘La Nouvelle Etoile’ sailing the waterways of northern Europe.


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