September 9, 2010

Little things about Belgium

So, after a little over three weeks here, voila, some more observations.

Belgians LOVE comics. They're called BDs, which stands for Bandes Dessinées.

75% of the music you hear on the radio is American. Many people love the music, but only understand some of the lyrics. 

The TV show called CSI in the U.S. is called Les Experts here. People love it.

People love American TV in general, actually. 

There are very few stop signs-- drivers are supposed to yield to other drivers on the right side. They don't always do so.

Therefore, there are LOTS of traffic jams, called bouchons.

If you have a moto (little motorcycle), few of the traffic laws apply to you.

A popular saying: the tram is always right. Around the city of Brussels, there are lots of trams-- electric streetcars. You always yield to the tram, because it's bigger and doesn't stop.

The busses are usually late.

Friends-- both guys and girls-- kiss each other once on the cheek to greet one another-- called a bisou.

Very few people at school hug each other.

At school, people take notes with a fountain pen. And use rulers to underline things.

Belgians have very nice handwriting, compared to Americans.

Before class, people stand by their chairs until the teacher says they can sit.

Cafés serve alcohol--they're like bars.

There's two kinds of waffles (called gaufres). Les gaufres de Liège are dense, chewy, and sweet, while les gaufres de Bruxelles are lighter and puffier.

Belgians love Spéculoos-- crunchy cookies that taste somewhat like extra sweet graham crackers.

There are no drinking fountains. Anywhere. If you want water, you buy a bottle of it.

Popular breakfast: bread, butter, and chocolate sprinkles on top.

You can buy cherry- or rasberry-flavored beer.

Fanta isn't bright orange. It's a yellowish-color.

Iced tea (like Lipton) is carbonated.

When you buy frites (fries), you have about 25 different sauces to choose from to go with them.

Speaking of frites, people here are very insistent that frites were invented in Belgium. Not France, like the American name suggests.

Wherever you go, there's lots of grafitti.  

If you get something wet, it takes around 3 days to dry.

The clouds move extremely fast. It can be sunny one minute and raining the next.

It rains here. A lot.

Here are some things I will elaborate on later:

Belgian politics are very complicated. Very, very complicated. 

Many people play field hockey-- it's like a combination of soccer, hockey, and golf.

Almost anyone you talk to speaks some English.

I'll continue to add things as they come up. 


  1. and how many of the people there smoke? good heavens, traveling to SE Asia, you're surrounded by Europeans and Australians that smoke like chimneys - wondering if it's the traveling gang that tends to smoke or Euros in general. Thanks for sharing your travels - if I can't be out there doing it myself, it's always nice to live vicariously. :)

  2. Tres Bien! Ceci est tres interessant.

    Je t'aime,

  3. Alisa-- Yes, a lot of people here smoke. A lot. I think it's a little more accepted here in Europe, for some reason.

    And mom, merci beaucoup! Je t'aime aussi.

  4. Austin thanks for your observations on life in the low lands. Send us some more!

    Peter R

  5. Hi austin, je suis une amie d'Ysaline. J'habites aussi à Linkebeek mais cette année je suis aussi à l'étranger. Munich.. J'ai adoré tes observations sur les belges. C'est tellement vrai! J'espères que tu vas passer une belle année dans mon petit patelin (word to say small town) !