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Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Belgium

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Belgium can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Belgium?

What are the most common clichés about life in Belgium in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,

Priscilla

Misconceptions:
1. Since Belgium makes to top 10 in School education system on a regular basis, people must speak English here. (Wrong)
2. Since Belgium capital is also capital of EU and 50% of population are Dutch the country must be very open minded, tolerant and accustomed to having English speakers traverse the country or live nearby. (Wrong)
3. Belgium has one of the best health care systems in the World. (Wrong)
4. Belgians are very friendly people curious about cultures other than their own. (Wrong)
5. Belgians are law abiding good drivers. (lol)
6. Dutch Belgians are really friendly and warm towards their French compatriots. (Wrong)
7. Belgian grocery stores offer wide variety of high quality food products. (Wrong)
8. Belgian government is very efficient and bureaucracy free. (Wrong)
9. Belgium is just like Scandinavia. (Wrong)
10. Belgian income taxes are one of the lowest in EU. (cannot be more wrong)

MOHTCEP totally agree with you and that's the ugly truth about Belgium

MOHTCEP:  Great and true observations about Belgium :)

Guys,

If life in Belgium you do not like that much, why do you stay?

Nobody ever said life was perfect in Belgium.

MOHCTEP :

Misconceptions:
1. Since Belgium makes to top 10 in School education system on a regular basis, people must speak English here. (Wrong)
2. Since Belgium capital is also capital of EU and 50% of population are Dutch the country must be very open minded, tolerant and accustomed to having English speakers traverse the country or live nearby. (Wrong)
3. Belgium has one of the best health care systems in the World. (Wrong)
4. Belgians are very friendly people curious about cultures other than their own. (Wrong)
5. Belgians are law abiding good drivers. (lol)
6. Dutch Belgians are really friendly and warm towards their French compatriots. (Wrong)
7. Belgian grocery stores offer wide variety of high quality food products. (Wrong)
8. Belgian government is very efficient and bureaucracy free. (Wrong)
9. Belgium is just like Scandinavia. (Wrong)
10. Belgian income taxes are one of the lowest in EU. (cannot be more wrong)

Hi,

Compared to your thoughts, here's what I get out:
- 1 - It's not our fault if you are unable to talk to one of our three national languages ... There is nowhere enshrined in the Belgian constitution that Belgium must speak English ...
- 2 - We are where there is a true sharing. But not when the person comes as preachy ...
- 3 - Unlike the US, there is a social security and hospitals for everyone ... We do not leave our people without medical coverage ...
- 4 - See line 2
- 5 - There, that's partially correct. But it's the same in many countries ...
- 6 - This shows that you do not understand the history of the Belgian people.
- 7 - Anyone who emigrates to another country has the same problems. Or the person accepts the situation or ...
- 8 - Try a bit of governing a country with three communities with different historical identities / cultural / linguistic ...
- 9 - Having lived in Denmark, I am pleased that Belgium is not like scandivanes country.
- 10 - The Belgian tax system has never been a lower but a higher ... If you do not want to pay taxes, it's not really in Belgium to be.

I thought of a few more misconceptions.
1. Belgian chocolate must be great, after all that is what Belgium is known for. While Godiva is good and available everywhere in the World , one would expect to find hidden unknown local producers who are just as good or better, right? (Wrong) Godiva is where it starts and ends with Belgian chocolate.
2. Belgian beer is great. Well if you like sweet often unfiltered beer made with very little hops and high in alcohol (6-12%) than you are correct. If you like Lager or Pilsner type of beer then you are out of luck. Belgium does not make any and you not going to find any Lagers or Pilsners selection in any major grocery store. But they always carry stale Budwiser.
3. Dentistry in Belgium is just as great as healthcare. If you think old shabby offices circa 1950s are great than you are in luck. Most Belgian dentists don't upgrade their equipment they just inherit it from their grandfather dentists.
4. Belgium known for its cheese, it must be great. (Wrong) All you find in grocery stores are the same selection of tasteless rubbery Gouda and some Old Amsterdam from neighboring Holland that is slightly better but not by much.
5. Since Belgium has 3 official languages German, French and Dutch dialect people must speak all three at least a little. (Wrong)
6. Since Belgium is one of the developed nations it must have very little social strata in society (Wrong) First thing I have noticed is strong social classes in Belgium. Some live in Castles and some look like American white trash. Even my Eastern EU co-workers remarked to that affect, truly strange. Perhaps this is what happens when you never behead any of your nobles?

LOL

Great observations but I beg to differ on some points.

To experience the 'delicatessen' if Belgium, you have to go the 'ambachtelijk' route.

There are hundreds of beers and you can't find them in the common shops. Go to the 'bruin cafe's' in your neighborhood and you'll get a larger selection of truly wonderful beer sorts and you'll never look back to weak pilsners and lagers. Great place to observe the locals as well. Ask the bartender to recommend something and you won't be disappointed. Attend beer tastings or better yet join a beer tasting club to learn more about the intricacies of the brewing process and the ingredients they incorporate in their beers and you'll be surprised at the diversity of it as well as their dedication to their "ambacht".

There are wicked Belgian chocolates, but then again, you do not go to the big supermarkets to find one. The trick is to go to local chocolatiers, or even bakeshops. The smaller and antiquated the shop the more delicious surprises you can extract.

You can shop around for more modern dentists! I go to a family owned clinic with two of the children sharing the practice with their parents, so that takes care of the modernity.

Again, the best cheese are not easily found in the neighborhood commercialized grocery. Where on earth do you shop? Be a bit adventurous and go to smaller local shops and ASK for advice. The shop owners are (almost) always willing to help out. Better yet, go to the local markets on the weekends. That's a treasure trove for really authentic Belgian products.

Only ones I really dont agree with are 2 and 3. I love belgian healthcare. I find it 100s of times better than uk. As for Beglians being tolarant of English speakers I have found the Flemish very welcoming and warm. Of course things like finding a job starting a in house creche has been a. No go due to language day to day I use as much dutch as I can but never had anyone be mean when I needed to speak English. However the rest I do agree especially the drivers one.

As for the comments on a further post. Also Godiva chocolate isnt very nice and over priced. Leonardis is better and better priced and plenty of independent chocolate shops if you look around. My brother in law got me an amazing box from Brussels last month. As for larger and beer I don't even drink it but can name some supermarket lagers off top of my head. I have actually never seen Budweiser in belgium (were do you shop?) not that I have looked that well but still. As for dentists again I love healthcare here. I have actually been to several different dentists in Belgium (due to being scared thanks to awful uk ones) have been lovely equipment is also better and new compared to uk. They dont use cheaper fillings like uk for one. Also weridly works out cheaper for me to use dentist in Belgium not uk. Nice thing about Belgian drs and dentists if you find a bad one you can always change easily. I actually have a lot to thank Belgian healthcare for.

X

For Milay and other "chocolate lovers",

http://www.visitflanders.com/en/themes/ … ntry=en_US

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