So… what’s so special about Belgium?

That’s a pretty big question, but I’ll try to answer as clearly and thoroughly as I can.

If you’d asked me to tell you what I knew about Belgium before I started talking to the Belgian who would become my husband, there would have been almost nothing that I could tell you, that is, besides the fact that people always seem to be insulting it in movies.

Here’s what little I knew:

  • Belgium is famous for lots of food: trappist beer, sugary waffles, and expensive chocolates.
  • It is a small European country and was pretty famous in the past for bobbin lace and fine linen.
  • Um… there are really big horses called Belgians and two breeds of Belgian shepherd dogs.

Honestly, I’d have run out of facts somewhere around there. I knew that it was kinda important for something to do with WW2 but I’d never really paid attention to that part of history class so I couldn’t give you more detail than that. That seems like shamefully little to know about another country but I was far from alone in my ignorance.

When friends and family back in the US first learned that I was going to pack my bags and move halfway around the globe (to live with some guy I’d only met a year before and had only seen once in person) most were afraid I’d gone off my rocker. Their concern was completely understandable. However, some of the most eye-opening questions and reactions that I got were from total strangers.

  • “Belgium, huh? Isn’t that the capital of Paris?”
  • “That’s next to Pakistan, isn’t it?”
  • “Do they have the internet over there?”
    • Yes, actually, that’s how I met Philippe.
  • “I bet they’d be surprised over there to see the kinds of cars we drive, huh?”
    • Um…not really, they drive pretty much the same cars.
  • “Hey! You’re Ed’s daughter! So what’s wrong with you, American men just aren’t good enough for you anymore?”
    • Dude, I don’t even KNOW you! Also, bartender, check please.

I had to study a lot to learn about the country I was planning to move to. Had I not met Philippe, I may have tried going to England or Spain, you know, someplace where I actually spoke the language.

I certainly regretted how little I’d paid attention in High school history and geography classes. Rather than boring you with facts and figures, let me show you a rather entertaining video which summarizes this rather complicated country.

Here’s a handy chart which compares the US and Belgium in intricate detail.

Alright, so now that you know how difficult this place is, let me tell you why I love it here.

Belgium is small. Seriously, it is one of the tiniest countries I’ve ever seen. It is about the same size as Maryland. Yeah, you remember Maryland? Most people haven’t a clue where it is on the map because it’s so small it hardly counts! (Sorry Maryland, you count to me!) On the bright side, this means that you can daytrip to anywhere in the country! You can even daytrip to any one of our neighboring countries.

Most people don’t, however. While many, many Belgians drive or take the train for up to two hours each way on a weekly or daily basis for work however social visits or touristic day-trips tend to be planned out meticulously, weeks in advance. In general, if you have to drive more than three hours to get somewhere, you’re going to try to stay the night before driving back. When they hear of Americans driving three or four hours to visit a museum and then turning around to go back home, they think we’re pretty crazy.

Since moving here, I have fallen completely in love with Belgian culture and nature. Hence the existence of this site!

Belgians tend to be much more community minded than what I experienced in the US. They tend to accept their high tax rate as the price to pay for making sure that everyone has their basic rights taken care of.

Socialized medicine is seen as the bare minimum. It took me several years to let go of the sudden onset of anxiety when I’d get sick and worry that I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Some Belgians like to complain about people going to the doctor for the slightest issues, however they simply don’t know the agony of waiting a few months to save up for a dental filling.


There are over 3,000 castles in Belgium. Many of them are open to the public but a lot of them are still lived in! Castles are so everpresent in our daily life that many people don’t even notice them while driving around.

There are little pockets of wilderness scattered all around. Many of the little forests throughout the country were originally the parks of the various castles. Wildlife is abundant and once you put out a bird feeder you are sure to get a handful of different visitors on the very first day. I love exploring all of the different natural reserves I can find, each one has its little particularities to make it different from the rest and many of them contain a surprising number of different microcosms.

The longer I live here, the more fascinated I grow by my adopted country and I’m very happy to have this place so I can share what I find.






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