Expat Voices: Kimberley Lovato on living in Belgium

Expat Voices: Kimberley Lovato on living in Belgium

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Writer and blogger Kimberley Lovato finds the quality of life here quite refreshing but wouldn't mind if the the service people speeded up...

Name:  Kimberley Lovato

Nationality:  Americaine

City of residence:  Bruxelles

Date of birth:  17 April 1968

Civil status:  Married

Occupation:  Writer

Reason for moving to Belgium:   Spouse

Lived in Belgium for 5 years

What was your first impression of Belgium?
It was vibrant, colorful and brimming with different nationalities,  possibilities and opportunities

What do you think of the food?
Best kept secret in Europe, I think. The top restaurants rival the best in other European capitals, in my opinion,  but one of the biggest surprises of Belgium is the high quality and value of its small neighborhood restaurants, snack shops, bistros and brasseries that serve up cuisine from all over the world.

What do you think of the shopping in Belgium?
Not bad.  I do wish we’d see more colors (besides black and grey) in the clothing and a wider variety of sophisticated styling.

What do you appreciate about living in Belgium?
I appreciate the pace of life and the proximity to other European nations.

What do you find most frustrating about living in Belgium?

The general lack of urgency of those who work in a service job (store, commune,
train station, phone company, post office, etc.).

What puzzles you about Belgium?
The language divide puzzles me. Perhaps because I don’t understand the history of it all.  

What do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I miss customer service where the customer actually comes first!

How does the quality of life in Belgium compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?  

I find the quality of life here quite refreshing. Brussels is a great city that has a lot to offer those willing to look for it. I am from California where life was about keeping up with the Joneses and showing off a big car or luxury watch.  Here in Brussels, family and friends come first, people are less interested in material possessions — at least that’s my impression — and more interested in spending quality time with the people they care about.

If you could change anything about Belgium, what would it be?
I would tell the service people to speed up and the drivers to slow down!

What advice would you give to a newcomer?   
Open your mind and attempt to learn the language….at least 'please' and 'thank you'.

I blog about life as an expat in Brussels, a muse about the differences in cultures, share tidbits of information I gleaned or learned that may be humorous or funny, and generally ramble about my perspective on this adventure.   For friends and family, it is a chance to keep up with my travels, but for other expats I hope to help them relate to the excitement (and sometimes frustrations) of living abroad .  It is a wonderful experience to be a foreigner, and to see things through eyes that witness things differently than locals.  

Read Kimberley Lovato's musings at www.abroadinbelgium.com 

Expatica 2009

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Bill posted:

    on 5th August 2009, 20:54:07 - Reply

    I spend 3 years in Brussels and enjoyed the mix of people from all over. It seems a very livable and likable city if you take away the insane car drivers and reduce some of the criminal activity in certain areas. (I witnessed a handgun assault in St. Gilles near Place Morichar.)

    I now live in Limburg near Hasselt and must say that there is a different mentality in the Flemish zone. There is much more of a work ethic that I am used to that seems to be missing from Brussels and in Wallonia. The cultural divide is about much more than language...and there is a reason why Flanders is more prosperous than Wallonia.. Brussels is saved by the sea of highly (some would say over)paid EU functionaries, despite its high level of unemployment. You want customer service? You'll find more of it the further you get from Brussels!

    BTW- I liked your article! What do you think of the winter weather? After coming from California, it must have taken some getting used to...unless you come from northern Calif.! ;-)

  • Babs posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 10:34:17 - Reply

    I totally agree on the lack of customer service and this applies to every sector. Apparently they are not interested in establishing lasting relationships with their customers. The fast driving is not a problem, what is a major concern is the recklessness of the driving! In the US, even when you have the right of way you are told to look before you go - not here! This is why there are so many accidents on the street in Brussels. My heart goes out to the elderly who are unable to act so quickly when driving.
  • JamesDrew posted:

    on 27th April 2009, 13:19:08 - Reply

    NIce piece, Kimberley - and a beautiful picture of yourself, if I may say. ;-)

    You're in good company on this column, what with me being the first to post...x