“The people bring the magic to this place!”

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“I enjoy being part of the expat community, it is so easy to start a conversation about anything with any expat! Everyone is very friendly and willing to share their experience and thoughts with you, hang out and discover.”

I moved to… Brussels in July 2012, so it’s over one year and half of Belgian lifestyle.

Before that I lived in Vilnius (Lithuania) for 6 months and in Athens (Greece) for..(counting) about 8 years ( wow that’s a lot).

The language issue… Tricky question. Belgium has 3 official languages: French, Dutch (Flemish) and German. Very few people speak German though, so the “battle” goes between French and Dutch (Flemish). I get by with French and have been taking classes for over a year now to improve it. I’ve recently started taking Dutch classes t
oo.. Saying I am somehow familiar with the language is about right.  But speaking Dutch? That would be an overstatement 🙂

Brussels - in front of the Central station. Quick farewell pic with my childhood Neighbour and friend George Dicu (who was living in Amsterdam at the time and was visiting Brussels)

Brussels – in front of the Central station. Quick farewell pic with my childhood Neighbour and friend George Dicu (who was living in Amsterdam at the time and was visiting Brussels)

Since I moved here I stopped Worrying so much about the crisis. In Belgium people are more relaxed and the social context is different so people simply express less indignation and concern on the faith of the economy, compared to Greece.

Since I moved here the new thing I stared doing is Biking to work (in the rain sometimes, which was something I never thought I’d do), speaking French, learning Dutch, going for dinners or parties in other cities by train. It’s just so easy to move around over here.

Some weird habits at the locals Speak to a Walloon in Flemish and they respond in French, speak to Flemish in French and they respond in English.. Speak to anyone in German and no one will respond.. Remember: 3 national languages, always tricky! But you can never go wrong with English

My biggest cultural shock was Rabbit in beer sauce. Tastes better than it sounds! And getting a receipt from a taxi driver, is like looking for the holy grail.. Everyone has heard about it, but nobody has ever actually got to see one..

My funniest/weirdest/scariest experience was…  While successfully entering a cab with some Greek and Dutch friends, a strange fellow opened the door as we were leaving and started shouting: “pourquoi vous détestez les Marocaaaaaaains?” (why do you hate the Moroccans?).. he actually also said it in English a moment after .. ??? Scary, weird, but tells a lot about this place.

What I miss the most from home is… The sun.

Whenever I get home sick, what I miss is… I am not sure if home is in Greece or Romania.. at time I miss both equally, or not at all.. when I do,  I miss the food, the sea, the old friends, the parents.. all that stuff that’s there and make you feel cozy. The people that have known you for a lifetime and get you. Without you even having to open your mouth and say anything, they just know.

I go home as often as... 3, 4 times per year

I keep in contact with my friends and family… via Facebook, e-mails, Whatsapp, overpriced phonecalls, Skype.

 

My favorite dish/local food is… Fruity beer (like Kriek). I just love it! Wait that’s not food.. hmm.. I love the Belgian mussels and the Waffles!

Brussels: late winter, in front of Parc Royal Me and my friend Anne-Claire after the happy purchase of some Belgian chocolates

Brussels: late winter, in front of Parc Royal Me and my friend Anne-Claire after the happy purchase of some Belgian chocolates

My favorite places in town are… There are so many! Brussels is so much fun to go out, if you know the happenings:

Restaurants: more casual: L’amour fou, Publico, Henri, Strofilia.

Belga Queen for a fancy dining experience.

Bars & Clubs: I like Le Stoefer (although it takes ages to order sometimes, but you’re there to have fun not catch a plane so it helps with the mingling), Bonnefooi, Potemkine and Bazaar.

I have had a good time at the Loft and Barmardi, those expat parties that somehow work during weekdays.. It’s fun to see familiar faces and have a good time. And I like Jeux d’hiver and Spirito for a pinch of posh.

I try to stay tuned to the special happenings going on in Belgium, home of Tomorrowland and many many other little or large events, from Techno or Rock to Balkan music festivals and concerts.

But my personal favorite is the monthly Strictly niceness! You go as you are and you have an awesome fun(ky) time!

I get around the city by Bike, metro and if I am really unlucky, bus.

Street fashion? Not impressed.

My view on people: The people bring the magic to this place. I enjoy being part of the expat community, it is so easy to start a conversation about anything with any expat! Everyone is very friendly and willing to share their experience and thoughts with you, hang out and discover. Furthermore, gradually I got to know some of the locals and that was a milestone in my experience here. This gave a new perspective to my life in Belgium. It made me feel more committed to this place, and I have discovered more about their culture and definitely the very BEST places to go out as a local! 🙂 I was totally impressed by their humbleness, their cynical but funny ways of telling the truth in your face without actually offending you and, although they cannot be described as warm people, they manage to make you feel welcomed and appreciated for who you are. I would say they approach you carefully at the first acquaintance, but then once you get to know them, they are genuine, caring, reliable and friendly. I love their authenticity. In the East we tend to be a little bit too loud, or concerned about appearance, while sometimes lacking essence in a relationship with peers.. here, they seem to have a pretty good balance!

Being an expat I  felt I was different but it never felt bad.

In 5 years, I see myself living…  In Belgium, New York or London.

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