Barbara: Brussels Life Beauty
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brussels, etc.
My name is Barbara and I am originally Polish. In 2005 I decided to join my partner to come and live in Brussels. And we have been here ever since.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided there’s more to life than just work and in June 2012 I started writing my blog Brussels Life Beauty. Blogging gives me a unique opportunity to talk to others, share experiences and discover what Brussels city life has to offer.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Brussels differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I came to Brussels in 2005, right after I graduated, so adapting to the new situation and the city wasn’t hard at all. I was young, in love and open for what the new city had to offer. In general, Brussels is an easy place to get used to. Perhaps with the exception of shopping, as stores are closed on Sundays.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brussels? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
If I knew I was coming to Belgium, I would have definitely studied French. For the longest time, I was refusing to study the language (even when I was already living in Brussels) and now I see it was a mistake. When you speak the local language, you can fully experience the Belgian culture and what the city has to offer. Not to mention the job market, which is incomparably bigger if you speak at least one of the local languages. Without that skill, you’re limited to only expat life and English language jobs.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
This is a classic, but when I just got here, we went for lunch with my boyfriend. Not understanding the menu in French, I ordered the one thing that looks somewhat English, namely, Sandwich Americaine. It turned out to be minced beef meet (raw) and of course, I had to throw it in the bin.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brussels?
- Study the local language! You have 3 local languages, so there’s something to choose from.
- Interact with locals and whenever you can, use your newly acquired vocabulary.
- Stop comparing things to how they were back home. You’re not in Kansas anymore.
How is the expat community in Brussels? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I love my Brussels friends, who all come from different countries. We are learning French, but choose to speak English to one another. It’s just easier to communicate this way when everyone is from someplace else.
How would you summarize your expat life in Brussels in a single, catchy sentence?
Meet Barbara - Polish born and raised, living in Brussels, Belgium with her Spanish fiancé. Every day is a battle between at least 3 languages for them: French, English and Dutch. In this crazy multi-cultural world, their friends are no surprise- everyone happens to come from a different country. Isn't it all too complicated? Not at all! Barbara loves her Bruxelloise life and wouldn't change it for anything else! Her blog is called Brussels Life Beauty and is about all those things and more! Check it out for regular posts and discover Brussels with Barbara!