Each week I talk to someone from around the world who moved to Belgium. This week Apolina from India tells us what she likes about living here.
1. 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 you made that move.
2. Why did you move to Belgium?
After having lived most of my life in India, when we came to a tiny town in Arcachon, we realized that we really are city folks. We wanted a town with a population of at least a million and Brussels fits that perfectly.
3. What were your expectations before you moved to Belgium and did the reality align with those expectations?
Yes. I heard that the Belgian are very nice and I must admit it’s very true. Most of them do go out of their way to help.
4. What’s the biggest difference between life in your home country and living in Belgium?
I’ll not be very original and say the weather! In India, we love the rains and the monsoon. But that’s only three months of the year… rest of the time it’s dry and hot. I did not expect it to rain all year long ;-)
5. And what’s the biggest difference in mentality of the people or their lifestyle?
What I noticed is not particularly Belgian, but I guess it’s the western world. I notice that people’s doors are rather closed. You visit your friends only if you have made an appointment with them. People here never drop by unexpectedly (and they even think it’s rude). Back in India, if you are passing in an area where a friend lives, he or she would be upset if you don’t drop in!
6. What do you love most about Belgium?
Belgium is a foodie’s heaven. We have access to some nice restaurants here. Besides, being the European Capital, you can find almost every ingredient you need in the numerous ethnic stores here.
I also like the fact that it’s a small country and you can go to a neighbouring foreign country and back in a day. Also, even though it’s a small country you have a lot of cultural diversity.
7. What do you like least about Belgium?
The bureaucracy. But I guess that one could find that in every country and it can be worse.
8. What do you miss most about your home country?
Natural light! In India, it’s bright all year long. I hate the short days at the end and beginning of the year.
9. Is there something about India that you don’t miss at all?
The traffic in Bombay!
10. Do you think you’ll stay where you are now, or do you think you’ll migrate again some day?
I don’t know. We’re fine here, but you never know what tomorrow holds. I do know that if I had to move, I’d miss Brussels and Belgium at lot!
11. A word of advice for other people who are thinking of moving to Belgium?
Strange as it may seem, I see a lot of expats complaining that Belgians don’t speak English. Well, I think you can get by in Belgium with speaking English only, but it is such a pity to miss out on the subtleties of a culture because you do not speak the language. So my advice would be to learn French and/or Dutch, depending on what’s best for you.
12. And to finish, can you quickly share with us:
Your favorite place in Belgium:
We often love to do weekend escapades to the countryside. Depending on the weather, we’ll go to the Ardennes, or the Coast or in Limburg. We often combine this with a visit to the local brewery.
Your favorite place in Brussels:
We like to have a walk in the various multi-cultural communes of Brussels to explore the ethnic stores for ingredients and food. We also like the huge green spots in Brussels like Rouge Cloitre or Bois de la Cambre
Your favorite restaurant in Brussels:
From our weekend watering spot to exotic cuisine places, there are too many favorites. I would however underline Viva M’Boma for it’s delicious offal food and Belgian specialities, Bia Mara for their Fish n Chips, Hong Kong delight for their Chinese.
Are you a Belgian who moved abroad, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new Belgian 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!