Liv: Brussels Blog
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- Claire: Claire's Brussels Blog
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- Sandra: Brussels Sprout
- Barbara: Brussels Life Beauty
- Maxine: Why I Am Not Skinny
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brussels, etc.
My name is Liv Jones and I’m an author of Sheep Under the Sea, a book on culture shock. In addition I cook, travel, and blog while I attend University here in Brussels at Vesalius College. Prior to moving to Brussels, I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I pursued a formal education with the goal of one day moving to Europe. I arrived in Brussels in August of 2012, and absolutely fell in love with the city. My hopes are to eventually find a permanent solution to my infatuation with Belgium, and make Europe a permanent home.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve been blogging for years in various formats about other things, and began blogging through those channels when I arrived. The problem was I had more to say than what I thought I could express through those existing channels. There was definite lack of blogs in Brussels that connected people of like-minded experiences, issues that are unique to Brussels, and I wanted to be a part of illuminating that corner of life in the city. I think most of all; I would have regretted if I had to leave Brussels not having had tried to pursue doing what I enjoy most: writing about it.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I honestly have so many it’s hard to pick one that I absolutely love. I imagine this one here, which was actually written on a visit to Brussels last year, is near and dear to my heart. Called My 8.6 Minute Bucket List, I think it sums up my life the last few years.
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?
This is a loaded question. I’m not sure I’m what you would call a typical American. My life at home is driving a very-European (very small) car (Suzuki Swift), I bake baguettes for fun, and I rarely watch film or television that isn’t from abroad. I’ve been taking French for several years, and while I arrived with an elementary capability, I quickly found my place here.
Life here is still very different. I travel on public transport, and live in this big beautiful city, while in the U.S. I reside in a rural suburb in the country and commute. I love the change of scenery, and the Metro is a breath of fresh air and freedom from the smog filled parking lots of highways at home. The community mentality of social cohesion is idyllic to me, but technology here is often frustratingly more difficult than the States. Overall, Brussels seems to fit me more comfortably than even my native home. I’ll have far more of a shock returning home than arriving here. There will be lots of tears and wine.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brussels? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I might have packed away a few foods I miss (A1, Taco Bell sauce, etc.), and I probably would have to (in hindsight) advise myself to disembark from the American student body quicker than later.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well I think the most P.G. anecdote was the individual on the Metro who kept talking to his imaginary friend. That’s all rather normal here in Brussels, but it all got very strange when people tried to sit down next to this individual, and who were unaware that they were sitting on this imaginary friend. The gentleman jumped up and screamed at the unsuspecting person about how they were crushing and killing his best friend. He then cried and begged till finally the person got up. So if you don’t like the person sitting next to you on the Metro, give it a go.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brussels?
- Always say yes to everything, get involved, and try new stuff!
- Never make excuses or justify your cultural fear- push through it. You’ll have way more fun.
- Eventually you’ll want a real burger, and the best is here: Burger Republic’s Bacon Mushroom Melt with truffle sauce.
How is the expat community in Brussels? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are a lot of ex-pats in Brussels. However I think those who will succeed the best in finding authentic relationships, are those who try to identify outside of the ex-pat community. Ex-pat relationships are useful, but eventually you will both identify as being a part of something greater, the larger community of being in Brussels. If you put in the effort to be a part of it, it’s here for you to embrace, and the rewards when you do are amazing.
How would you summarize your expat life in Brussels in a single, catchy sentence?
For me, it’s “What happens when all your dreams come true?”, because I’m certainly living them. The problem is what happens when the dream ends, and you wake up?