100 days in Brussels

Belgium, Belgium, Belgium….the country that invented the anti-bureaucracy ministry; the land which is famous for its beer, french fries, chocolate and comic strips; Belgium, the country with more governments than métro lines in its capital Brussels. The country that hosts 0.16% of the world population….But how is it to live and work in this country? And what about Brussels, the “European” capital?

My personal 10 survival tips after having lived in Brussels for 100 days:

1. Do complain. Always. Sometimes it helps calming down.

2. Do not plan anything on a Saturday due to the rather inconvenient opening hours of nearly all shops and services during weekdays. Unfortunately, you will not be the only one with that idea on any given Saturday.

3. If you really want to have a free Saturday use your lunch-breaks.

4. Everything that involves the infamous Belgian administration is rather slow (sometimes also la poste & STIB, depending on your problem). But the lunch-break won’t do: Better take half a day off! One example: Do not expect to get your residence permit in the first three months after your application. It also involves the police checking if you put your name next to the doorbell.

5. If you buy a ticket for the cinema don’t expect numbered seats. So, better be there early!

6. It takes you 1 hour to open a simple bank account.

7. Judging on the design and the functionality, it seems that online banking has only been introduced recently with a fresh 1990s-look.

8. If you don’t want to spend money for a taxi, try to catch the last metro around midnight. Exception: On Fridays there is one (!) night bus service!

9. Rubbish bags are an important design feature in the streets of Brussels.

10. Enjoy strolling through the European district with its unique atmosphere: enjoyable city spaces with numerous green islands, modern and beautiful architecture: all in all a convincing urban planning scheme.

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3 responses to “100 days in Brussels

  1. “4. Everything that involves the infamous Belgian administration is rather slow (sometimes also la poste & STIB, depending on your problem). But the lunch-break won’t do: Better take half a day off! One example: Do not expect to get your residence permit in the first three months after your application. It also involves the police checking if you put your name next to the doorbell.”

    Well, checking doorbells actually is bit nicer than the Norwegian policy of checking the temperature of beds and blankets to find out whether a married couple are actually sleeping together, or whether the marriage is pro forma.

    Anyway, I spent a year as an exchange student in a small Flemish village, and failed to apply for my residence permit on time. Next thing I know, the police turns up at our house, acting on the rumor that a foreigner lived there! After that, I had to report to the town hall once a month to have my residence permit approved and stamped…

  2. ‘Checking the temperature’ is really outrageous….and I thought Belgium was exaggerated. But I also heard similar stories here with showing love letters etc….
    After your story I should really go to the town hall to register…. 😉

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