I’ve been an expat in Belgium for over 4 years now, and some of my behaviors of late have raised some eyebrows with my friends outside the country.
I’ve written a lot about what it’s like to move to a new country and try to keep your freedom, what it’s been like for us as a long distance couple and how I feel about Belgium in general – and for the most part, I think I’ve assimilated to the country fairly well. But there are some sure-fire signs that I still emit that is a dead-give-away that I am not “from here”.
You have stopped arguing with Belgians over how much bread they eat because you find yourself eating almost as much.
Seriously, these people just really like their bread. Having 5 sandwiches for lunch is ridiculous.
…Or is it?
You consider “the weekend” to be Monday and Tuesday because nothing is open those days.
Oh, also, nothing is open during lunch hour…you’re likely still not on board with this, but you’ve accepted it,
You drink beer, even if you never used to before.
Or you at least have tried a few different kinds because there are so many to choose from.
You think seeing a 70-something year old person on a bike is just a Tuesday afternoon.
Seriously, that woman just flew past me and I’m guessing she’s at least 65…I need to hit the gym.
You call Coca-Cola – “cola”.
Not soda. Not Coke. Not Coca Cola.
It’s Cola. And you have no idea why but you can’t go back to saying “coke”.
You feel like you’re doing well with learning the language…until you go to the town next to yours where everything sounds different.
Seriously, it’s like 10 minutes down the road and their dialect is completely different…HOW!?
Hands up if you’re using random Dutch and English words together in the same sentences!
Alle, we have to go to the store.
Zeg, what were you thinking?
Nee, I don’t want to go there.
You find the news fairly graphic and are not at all sure how you feel about it. (This may just be if you’re from Canada, but seriously the news here in Belgium does not hold much back!)
If you hear someone speaking English and make a conversation with them because you’re relieved to hear it. (By the way, Belgians find this very weird – to just strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know).
You get confused/nervous when greeting new people because there are so many different variations of expressing “hello”.
A kiss on one cheek, a kiss on each cheek or two kisses on each cheek…is there any kind of indication on which one you’re supposed to do, and when? Because it’s just so awkward to be on the receiving end of this and have no clue what is happening.
Most of the time you end up trying to pull away before they are finished, or lingering too long expecting more. It’s just hard to figure out.
You’ve lived here for years and still have only a sub-par level of Dutch skills (if any). And you’re totally fine with it because every other expat you know is the exact same.