When I moved to Luxembourg from Northern Ireland back in September 2016, equipped with my post-Brexit Irish passport (and still reeling from the referendum result), I did not really know what to expect. I had settled on the University of Luxembourg for my Master's degree in part because I knew so little about the Grand Duchy: I had vaguely heard of a language called Luxembourgish but was shamefully unaware of its importance as people's mother tongue, and a quick Google search presented me with idyllic images of a fairytale city (yes, I know Luxembourg is a country) with some skyscrapers in the background, apparently hinting to its reputation as a hub for European and financial institutions.

Fast forward (almost) seven years and I am officially a Luxembourger and more fluent in Luxembourgish than the two "foreign" languages I had studied up to university level - including French which I had hopelessly hoped to perfect in Luxembourg. As a Luxembourg national, I now have not only the right but the obligation to vote in all elections in the Grand Duchy, including the recent municipal (local) ones and the upcoming legislative (national) elections. I can also tell people I am a "Luxembourger", which in itself is quite fun, although I still cherish my own Northern Irish-Irish-British mix/identity crisis.

My journey to becoming a Luxembourger was both enjoyable and unexpected (with some administrative obstacles along the way). I started by attending a free Luxembourgish course offered by the University of Luxembourg during my studies, not with the intention of becoming a Luxembourger or even staying in Luxembourg, but simply to learn the language of this curious country where I now lived, to show some respect to its local people and get to know them better. I continued my language lessons at the Institut National des Langues for a couple of years but also practised speaking Luxembourgish outside the classroom whenever possible - it certainly helped having partner who was "local". However, I still found this more challenging than practising other languages since, at least at that time, there was not a lot of exposure to Luxembourgish media, books, films, etc. in daily life and it seemed almost everyone was either a local, who spoke three or more languages and often effortlessly switched to the one they felt you were most comfortable speaking, or a foreigner (or "expat") like myself, with little to no knowledge of Luxembourgish. So, speaking the language was a conscious and deliberate effort, but it was (and still is) worth it.

As I approached the five-year anniversary of my move to Luxembourg and felt I was settling down here, I made more active efforts to apply for citizenship. There are actually several ways to obtain Luxembourgish nationality (as detailed on Guichet.lu): in certain cases, it is automatic; in other cases, one can acquire the nationality by option or naturalisation or even "reclaim" it. I fell under the category of naturalisation, meaning I had to have legally lived in Luxembourg for at least five years, have passed a language exam ("Sproochentest") and either taken the "Vivre ensemble au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg" course (24 hours in total) or passed the related test.

I sat and passed the Sproochentest in between COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and later took the "Vivre ensemble" citizenship exam. Several online resources helped me prepare for the latter, which touched upon Luxembourgish history and European integration, fundamental rights and Luxembourg's institutions, among other topics (some of which I had already studied at university). This was all relatively straightforward (once I put the work in), although the paperwork side of the application process was more complicated.

In addition to meeting the criteria above, I had to submit various supporting documents to my municipality of residence. These included my language and citizenship exam results but also a full copy of a recent birth certificate (which had to be translated into Luxembourgish, French or German, although the translation requirement seems to vary from municipality to municipality), copies of my British and Irish passports, a completed "biographical questionnaire" and criminal record certificates from both the United Kingdom and Ireland (since I am a national of both countries). The fact that I am from Northern Ireland complicated matters and slowed down the process, which typically takes no more than eight months (mine took more than one year...), since I had never lived in the Republic of Ireland and so could not get the relevant police certificate. Several email exchanges and phone calls with the relevant authorities later, however, I received a letter in late March 2023 confirming I had been granted Luxembourgish citizenship. To get my ID card (mandatory for Luxembourgers aged fifteen and over who live in the Grand Duchy), I just had to go to my municipality of residence to get my photograph and fingerprints taken (and pay the relevant fee). The process to obtain a Luxembourgish passport is similar but having one is not mandatory (unless required to travel to certain destinations abroad).

It has been quite the journey but I can now proudly call myself a Luxembourger. For anyone interested in applying for Luxembourgish citizenship (through naturalisation), preparation is key: do take language classes and try to speak Luxembourgish as much as possible (you only need to have A2 level in speaking and B1 level in listening but it does not hurt to become more proficient in the language), get all your documents (originals and translations) in order as soon as possible and make sure that your final year of residence before applying for citizenship is uninterrupted (this does not affect holidays, of course), make sure that your country of origin/other nationalities allows dual citizenship before deciding whether to apply to become a Luxembourger (dual citizenship is allowed here but this is not the case everywhere) and finally, try to be patient but do not forget to celebrate when all your hard work finally pays off.