Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Brussels:
Coming from Seoul, businesses are very service minded. I remember my first grocery trip to the supermarket, where I made a pretty big purchase and did not realize that there is no one to pack the groceries for you. So when it was all over, I had the line waiting as I had to put everything in the bags myself.
The whole point of the stories is that sometimes you encounter odd situations and odd people – not because other people are always strange, but because you may be the stranger in what seems to be a strange land. I felt this was something worth writing about.
Life is different in Belgium. I think one of the oddest things is shopping and the unmaterialistic culture here. The idea of customer convenience is quite alien – shops open 9-18h and are closed on Sundays. There is very little late night opening, and many shops, especially in the suburbs and outside the cities close for a few weeks in the summer.
I don’t think it’s ever possible to be fully prepared for a move! I probably would have learned to drive. I don’t regret living out of Brussels, and most of the time it’s fine, but at the weekends with only one train per hour it makes socializing difficult.
There is a huge expat community in Brussels, partly because of all of the international organizations here, the EU, NATO etc, they make up a significant percentage of the residents of the city. You will hear lots of languages, particularly in the city centre or Schuman.
Life here is very different. I travel on public transport, and live in this big beautiful city, while in the U.S. I reside in a rural suburb in the country and commute. Overall, Brussels seems to fit me more comfortably than even my native home. I’ll have far more of a shock returning home than arriving here. There will be lots of tears and wine.
Among the expat community, the use of what is aptly referred to as “Brussels English” can lead to many misunderstandings. One time, an Italian lady introduced herself to me at a party and when I replied, she just kept telling me in English that she was sorry but she didn’t speak German, only Italian English and a bit of French! Oh,
If I knew I was coming to Belgium, I would have definitely studied French. For the longest time, I was refusing to study the language (even when I was already living in Brussels) and now I see it was a mistake.
Culture shocks included not *having* to pay service charge (or tip the waitron staff) in Belgium…. Although I probably still leave a little something. Some (or most) restaurants only opening their doors at 7pm (but why can’t I just sit outside and have a drink before – plus I like to eat earlier on weekdays).