Friday, November 04, 2005

Living in Brussels

My first blog post:

As you may or may not know, I've temporarily moved from St. Paul to Brussels, Belgium for a project at work. It's the first time I've re-located overseas (my time in Taiwan didn't quite count since I was with family), and it's quite exciting.

So, it's been two full days now after I first arrived in Brussels, and I've decided to try out this blogging thing to chronicle my experience. I arrived on Weds morning, luckily was able to upgrade my ticket to business class (woo hoo!) It really does make a difference.. after we took off, I had a nice dinner , slept, and the next thing I know, we're being served breakfast 1 hr before arrival. I didn't even notice that I slept for 5 hrs! Upon arrival into Brussels, the taxi driver provided by my company would only take me to the office, so I'm lucky that I slept, otherwise I would have been terribly jetlagged.

My company had a car ready for me: either an automatic VW Golf without GPS, or a manual Audi A6 wagon with GPS. Wish I could have taken the Audi, but I never learned to drive stick, despite the fact that I'll need manual driving skills if I ever want to be on the Amazing Race.

Oh well, maybe first I'll figure out how Belgian driving works before I try to figure out how to drive stick.

I have an apartment in Evere, a "commune" (as they call suburbs) of Brussels. It's really close to NATO HQ, the airport, and about a 10 min drive from the office. Belgium is a divided country, there are two official languages, Flemish and French. Areas in the north near Flanders have signage in Flemish (a Dutch dialect), and in the south, it's in French. I've heard that the French speaking part are very proud of their language... even though some speak Flemish, they refuse to speak it, forcing the other party to speak French. Brussels is supposed to be both officially Flemish and French speaking, so you get these funky signs in both languages (Grand Place / Groete Markt, for example) . This historical divide is still quite strong, as you have neighborhoods divided by language. In my case, I think I live in a French-speaking neighborhood... which probably means I should learn some French (although learning Dutch sounded appealing to me.. I like the sound of Dutch, and it's kinda between German and English)

My apartment is OK, it's pretty basic, but I think it's meant for ex-pats who are spending most of the time in the office. The hardest part has been the kitchen.. One thing I've grown to appreciate is how one gets used to their own kitchen. But since my stay here is so short, it doesn't make sense for me to buy all the kitchen tools or sauces that I normally use... so, guess that means no curries until I get back to MN. Plus, the fridge is the size of my dorm fridge at CWRU!

A few oddities:

1. There's no place in the shower to put your soap or shampoo! So, right now my soap is balancing on top of the faucet and the shampoo is on the floor. Kinda makes things tricky since the soap keeps falling down to the floor. =(

2. The door doesn't lock behind you, you have to lock it manually with a key... even on the INSIDE! Just hope that I can find the keys if I need to get out in an emergency!

3. I can't figure out how the thermostat works! I mean, right now it's off, but the temperature is like 80 degrees inside! So, my solution to that is to use the windows! (again, much like CWRU).

So, stay tuned: tomorrow's post will be about: grocery shopping or driving!


mohlsen said...

About time you blogged! You should turn on comment verification to prevent content spam like the first comment here. You also need to learn how to drive stick! That audi would be an awesome car to drive!

hybricon said...

finally kent gets a blog! its been a year of "hmm, maybe i should start a blog" congratulations on settling in