Each week I talk to someone who left their home country behind and moved to Belgium. This week Laetita from France tells us about her life here.
1. Hi, Laetitia! Could you please introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are from, where in Belgium you moved to and when/why you made that move.
2. What were your expectations before you moved to Belgium and did the reality align with those expectations?
Concerning the city, my expectations were very low: I imagined a grey, polluted industrial harbor, with a smelly fog in the air the whole year. I thought I would just stay there to study and go away immediately after this “task” was done. No need to say that when I arrived I was immediately seduced by its beauty, and later by its cultural liveliness. The proof is that I am still there!
3. What’s the biggest difference between life in France and living in Belgium?
There is no major difference between France and Belgium, so no cultural shock for me. But I would say that people are a little bit stricter and more introvert, especially older generations. The people of my age I got to meet are quite crazy and open minded but a lot of them are foreigners, so it is difficult to generalize.
The relation to food, maybe: Belgians cook much fatter and they tend to mash everything into a kind of “pap”, like burger meat. This I found very strange in the beginning. The fact that lunchtime doesn’t have a big place in a day’s schedule. It seems like eating is a task you have to get rid of when for me it’s a special moment.
4. What do you love most about Belgium?
I will talk about Antwerp because that’s what I know best: the fact that it is so international. It was always my wish to live in such an environment. The music scene is fantastic and the “going out” culture: you can go to bars and see a nice concert for no more money than your drinks, or pay a cheap entrance and have access to very good underground DJs and a incredible madness inside.
5. What do you like least about Belgium?
The weather, maybe.
6. What do you miss most about your France?
Cheese! It is very expensive in Belgium and it’s my favorite thing in the world.
Speaking only one language all the time. I speak English and French with my friends and I’m trying to learn Dutch. It gets really tiring and confusing sometimes.
7. Do you think you’ll stay where you are now, or do you think you’ll migrate again some day?
For the moment, I’m fine here. I would like to move one day but I can’t really afford it at the moment. I see myself leaving for some time but in the future I wouldn’t mind coming back and staying in Antwerp.
8. Could you share some of your favorite spots in Belgium with us?
Witzli Poetzli, Bar Lucy, café Mombasa, Zeezicht, bar Leon and all these temporary summer bars.
I also like to walk in the docks. It has a harsh beauty that I find inspiring.
Some of my favorite places closed down, like het Klooster and Kivietsnest, a monastery and a church as party venues. It was magical and I really miss them, they made Antwerp such a special place.
Are you an expat who moved to Belgium, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new expats to talk to. Check out the X-pat Files for more information on who exactly I’m looking for and drop me a line!