Antoine: The Unexpected Traveller's Blog
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Brussels, etc.
I am a single thirty-something guy who works in the murky field described as ‘IT Consultancy’. Originally born in the UK, I grew up in Malta and spent 20-odd years living there before emigrating first to the UK, back to Malta and then on to Belgium. I moved here in 2007 and have been here ever since.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging because I had a wide range of amusing anecdotes about life abroad and life whilst travelling. The whole point of the stories is that sometimes you encounter odd situations and odd people – not because other people are always strange, but because you may be the stranger in what seems to be a strange land. I felt this was something worth writing about.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
There are too many! At a pinch, I would have to say that my account of attending a staff Christmas party in Germany is certainly a favorite.
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?
Apart from the language difference, there was not much in terms of culture shock as many things are common across Europe. What did strike me though is that there are many things I would consider to be strange that the Belgians take for granted. And vice versa, obviously.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Brussels? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No I certainly was not. Looking back though, part of the fun was discovering that this is the case.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Yes – and they’re all on the blog ;-) One of my first experiences came when I had to interact with a plumber who spoke no English and could not understand my pidgin French.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Brussels?
- Keep looking: Brussels is full of hidden gems unlike major cities like London or Paris where the sights and places are obvious, visible and well known.
- Take full advantage of the international community which is amongst the most vibrant I’ve encountered in any city.
- Carry an umbrella with you at all times. Even, as one friendly Belgian advised me, if you stay indoors.
How is the expat community in Brussels? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It is very well defined, open to new people and rather dynamic.
How would you summarize your expat life in Brussels in a single, catchy sentence?
Odd people are everywhere...