I have lived in Belgium for around 2 years total now and I’m sharing a few of my dirty little expat secrets. Some are embarrassing (like #1) and some are hilarious (like #9).
- I still use power converters for most of my appliances. Usually when one makes a giant move to another country for a longer period of time, they would sell appliances to purchase new ones. But no, my laptop, hair straightener and hair dryer all still run on those adapters you pay way too much for in the airport.
- My Dutch is still VERY mediocre after 2 full years of living in Belgium (and attending classes/studying alone). I haven’t been very dedicated, despite my own posts about learning a language without having to attend classes.
- Ever wonder why I don’t have any posts about Belgium’s capitol/heart of Europe? It’s because I have neglected the beautiful city of Brussels. It gets such a bad wrap compared to Antwerp where we first lived, and I have only visited Brussels twice in my 2 years of living in Belgium.
- My favourite place in Belgium is actually a forest in a small town called Halle. I do love Bruges and the abandoned town of Doel, those may be very close seconds – but nothing quite compares to the serenity of Hallerbos!
- I only really have one close friend here in Belgium, and she’s not even Belgian! She’s from England, and we both have had a hard time making connections with people in Belgium.The expats are so social and excited to meet new people, but meeting and be-friending a Belgian is hard!
- We were told we weren’t eligible for a common law visa in 2013 when my holiday-working visa was expiring, so I moved back to Canada (alone) only to have my consulate in Canada say we WERE eligible and the Belgian government had steered us wrong! I was quite peeved about that one!
- I actually really dislike the city of Ghent. I know it’s supposed to be great, but I’ve visited once and I just really don’t see the appeal (especially in comparison to Bruges, which I love.)
- My favourite statue in all of Belgium is some random statue on the top of a (non important) building on the Meir shopping street in Antwerp. It just reminds me of an archangel from the Bible, and I really like it.
- I refer to ATM machines as “money tomatoes” all the time. (Long story short; the Dutch for ATM is “geld automaat” and the first one I ever used was missing the letters AU, and I read it as “geld tomaat” and I really thought that was correct. Of course, this was when I first arrived and knew NO Dutch, so when K told me it actually translates to “money tomato”, we just kept saying it because it’s hilarious.)
“Baby, we need to stop at the money tomato” is a common phrase in our home, and makes me laugh no matter how many times I hear it.