“Because hindsight is 20/20, I would like to share with you 10 valuable suggestions for adapting to life as an expat in Belgium and beyond.”
Andrew and I have officially been expats in Belgium for one year. It has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, but we are grateful for the experience.
We had to learn how to adapt to life in Belgium the hard way. We’ve made some mistakes and there are a few things we wish we could have done differently.
Overall, however, we wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
10 ways to adapt to expat life
Because hindsight is 20/20, I would like to share with you 10 valuable suggestions for adapting to life as an expat in Belgium and beyond.
- Learn to live in the moment. Expat life can be erratic with plans changing from one day to the next. Going with the flow will reduce your stress level and allow you to actually enjoy some of the ride.
- Get over the fact that things aren’t done the way they are at home. If you want everything to be the same then stay where you are.
- You will always have to make “one more trip” to the commune.
- Even if it’s sunny when you leave the house, stick an umbrella in your bag. It rarely rains when you are prepared.
- Learn as much of the local language as you can. If you plan to travel, learn at least a few important words in as many languages as possible (even if you know the locals will speak English). It is amazing how much warmer people will be when you make this effort.
- Always try the local dishes — they are specialities for a reason. Even if you don’t like them, you’ll have some great stories for the folks back home.
- Take advantage of Belgium’s multiculturalism. Make friends with Belgians as well as expats from around the world. The new perspectives this will expose you to are fascinating (and could always lead to travel experiences with a local expert down the road).
- Put up with paperwork. Complaining about it won’t help (trust me I’ve tried).
- Get out and explore. Whether it is on the train, in the car, on a bike or by foot, Belgium is a country full of hidden surprises. You will never find them if you don’t go looking for them.
- Learn to look back on the bad stuff and laugh, or at least chalk it up to experience. Being an expat is hard and everyone has bad days. If you can look at things with a sense of humour and know that it will get better, it can make all the difference.