Home Moving to Belgium Cultural Integration 35 things that change after ‘going Belgian’
Last update on February 18, 2020

How Belgian are you? If you’ve mastered the ‘bof’ sound and built up your Belgian beer glass collection, you’re on your way to calling yourself a Belgian local.

Whether you’re living in Belgium or just visiting, how can spot the signs that you’re turning into a Belgian local? you can begin to consider yourself a true Belgian local.

Check-off these 35 points to see how Belgian you are.

  1. You dispute claims about Swiss chocolate. Belgian chocolates are the best.
  2. You’ve mastered the Belgian shoulder shrug as a reaction to most things, and nothing is quite so useful or expressive as the ‘phft’ sound or bof.
  3. You feel appalled when a bar fails to serve your beer in the appropriate brewery glass. Then when travelling abroad, your dismayed at the insignificant selection and tasteless beers at most bars.
  4. If the process to renew your Belgian visa or licence takes only six trips and several folders of paperwork, you consider yourself lucky.
  5. You are suspicious of strangers who are over-friendly or smile at you without any apparent reason – but still respond in an upmost civilised and polite manner.
  6. You no longer worry if the country has a government or not; nobody else ever seems to panic.
  7. Before leaving for work, you always check the news for public transport strikes.
  8. Belgian chocolate is a sole food group in your diet, and you pair it with almost anything – spreads for toast, breakfast cereals, on your cappuccino, melted on fruits, and in almost all desserts.
  9. You can’t drink a coffee without a Speculoos biscuit or piece of chocolate on the side.
  10. You no longer order water or soda in restaurants because Belgian beer is better value. Other than price, you hardly distinguish between beer, water or soda anyhow – they are all perfectly acceptable refreshments for any occasion, morning, afternoon or night. (Who are you kidding – you only ever order beer.)
  11. Your wardrobe is an assortment of black, grey and other dark colours, and classic styles. You suspect those who wear bright clothes must be foreign.
  12. You don’t expect a juicy steak on your plate when you order filet americain – you’ve even come to appreciate this dish of seasoned raw minced beef, served cold.
  13. You wince every time someone orders ‘French fries’. They are Belgian, you know.
  14. Fries with mayonnaise is an acceptable lunch.
  15. You spend time and effort to pair the right beer with your stew, moules frites, or stoemp. You even pair beers with dessert – the typical Belgian sundae, La Dame Blanche, goes great with a Belgian Cherish Raspberry Lambic beer.
  16. You have a collection of the official glasses or bottles for every Belgian beer you’ve ever purchased, and can discuss at length the differences between lambic and gueuze beers or Abbey and Trappist ales.
  17. You bypass the touristic chocolate shops and buy your Belgian chocolate from the supermarket; you know exactly which brands are best.
  18. You like to tell people that Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgian.
  19. You are used to half the screen being covered by subtitles when you go to the cinema.
  20. You can tell from which part of Begium a person comes from based on their accent and fashion sense.
  21. When you don’t like something in one chain store, you just travel to the same chain store 30km away to see what completely different fashion styles they stock.
  22. When dining out in a group, you do like your northern neighbours: you don’t split the bill equally but only pay for what you ordered, even if the calculations take 10 minutes. Minus a tip, of course – you know it’s included in the bill.
  23. You have grown to value Belgian thriftness – you have a collection of coupons and have been known to take a bottle of water to a restaurant or cinema to avoid overpriced fees. It’s just good economic sense.
  24. You walk with your eyes on the pavement watching out for dog poop.
  25. You no longer get lost as you’ve memorised both the French and Flemish names for roads, towns and stations – and you can greet people in both French and Flemish if needed.
  26. You find it annoying when people keep within the speed limit on highways, and flash your lights if someone is too slow. You at least accept the quirks of Belgian road rules – including giving priority to your right.
  27. You now spend a copious amount of time thinking about, discussing and shopping for food. You argue, of course, that fast-food chains are not ‘restaurants’.
  28. You get excited when you find a shop open on Sunday. Otherwise, you can be found at a Sunday market – meeting friends at a market for brunch is code for grabbing a wine or beer.
  29. Seeing horse meat in a butcher no longer shocks you, and you often hear how tasty horse steaks are.
  30. You no longer search the refrigerated section in the grocery store for eggs and milk. Besides, you’ve come to accept that UHT milk is not that bad.
  31. You only eat white asparagus in May, and try to keep to a seasonal rotation of fruit and vegetables.
  32. You’re familiar with grocery shopping in the dark, when the shop attendants turn off the lights 15 minutes early to signal the store’s closing time.
  33. You accept that the town hall might not have your Belgian ID card ready for several months, even though it’s compulsory to have it whenever you leave the house.
  34. You spend your days wondering where your 40–50 percent taxes go, although you’re sure it’s certainly not going towards making parking more accessible.
  35. You know that Belgian waffles are not created equal, and specify this when ordering – whether it’s a Liege waffle (the most common), a Brussels waffle (rectangular, bigger, and lighter), or galettes (softer and thinner, typically for breakfast).

How well did you score? Share below what other traits are signs that you’re becoming Belgian.