Belgium: Full of Charm, Beauty, Friendship and Fries


By: Tiana Nguyen

Charming. That is what Belgium is – it’s full of charm, unique character, and extraordinarily friendly strangers. I mean, if kisses on my cheeks were pennies I’d be loaded! First off, I feel truly honored that people who were virtual strangers allowed me into their home and treats me as family. I didn’t know what to expect especially given the fairly thick language barrier, but thoughtfulness and kindness overflows into their actions.

On the 21st of July 2015, was Belgium’s national independence day, and the family I’m staying with took me into the center of Brussels and onto the palace grounds of the King of Belgium. Other officials were seated on the front side of the palace with us and as we watched the fireworks show I just kept thinking to myself “Wow. This is it, a perfect moment in time that I’ll never forget.” Apparently, hardly anyone is allowed to do this in Belgium let alone foreigners like me, so I must say this example personifies the kindness of the people in this lovely country.

It’s truly a toss up who is truly learning the most, the family I’m living with or me. Yes, we have many English conversations and mini-lessons on pronunciation and whatnot; but I have been given the opportunity to learn so much more than just language, although yes, I am learning a massive amount of French.

On a side note, can I just add that it was quite strange at first to turn on the TV and hear American programs being played with cheesy French voiceovers! The other day I watched Harry Potter en français, and Harry had quite a different voice! But by being here, I get to observe another culture’s way of life and become a part of it, do and see new things, try new foods… I’ve learned that dinnertime meals in Belgium tends to be at lunchtime, for some reason they’re obsessed with french fries and bread, even children greet one another with a kiss on the cheek, not everyone in the world knows or needs to know English (shocker I know!), and that pretty much every local I’ve met so far has at least one pet.

The culture of the Belgian people is something you must experience for yourself – and when I say this, I don’t mean that you should go to Brussels and tour the streets and stay in a hotel, although Brussels is very beautiful and diverse European city. But this is not how the real Belgium is nor how the people are – merely a facet of a cut jewel. Leave the big city, live like the locals for a little while if you’re able to – I promise you, it’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

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