Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things that make me go Hmmm...

I stumbled across an old list I made about funny/different things about Belgium (vs. Canada). At the time I wrote it, I had moved to a relatively small town with not a lot of foreigners. Since then, I've moved to Brussels and in total have been in Belgium for over 4 years. I wondered how my impressions had changed since my arrival... here is my original from about month 2 in Belgium (my curent reflections on the topics are in Green):
  1. You can buy bread loaves in vending machines!!
  2. Men pee in the street-- eeeeww!!
  3. They have "Santa Clause", but he doesn't give presents (except for kids). Adults open presents on New Years. (Still working on figuring this one out... some areas have St. Nicolas come and give kids gifts on Dec 6th, and some towns have St. Martin on Nov 11). They also do Christmas, but it is not the big commercial thing it is in N. America).
  4. Fresh milk is not available in stores (it is available in larger cities, thank goodness I never could get used to UHT!)
  5. Horse sausage is a local delicacy
  6. They use 24 hour time
  7. "Road to Avonlea" is on the TV everyday (still find that Funny!)
  8. Shopping malls have "proper" restaurants in them (still find it strange to go for a "nice" meal in a shopping mall!)
  9. Coffee to go does not exist (this is a bit different in bigger cities for commuters- and should move more in the direction of N. America as Starbuck's arrived about 1 yr ago :) )
  10. Everything closes on Sundays and Holidays (still drives me nuts!!)
  11. On the sides of smaller roads they have big nets to catch drink cans from passing drivers (actually for bikers -- Belgium is filled witha a lot of Tour de France wannabes)

New things to add to my list:

  1. When driving, cars to your right have priority (intersections, merging, etc.), even if you are on a major road and they are coming out of an alley, crazy!!
  2. Belgian drivers are nuts! Even my colleagues from London agree!
  3. In Brussels there is dog poop all over the streets, it's sooo irritating! They are seriously bad doggy parents!!
  4. Belgians have a much wider food range, from eel to mussles to "head meat". Often things that we have at home but don't eat (or are illegal like horse meat).
  5. Even after 10 years, Belgians still refer back to the Belgian Franc, and calculate Euro's to Franc's using the 1999 exchange rate (stores often post their prices in both Francs and Euros).
  6. Belgians have to "eat warm" once a day (aka have 1 warm meal per day). More or less than 1 is deemed unhealthy.

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