How is it to move abroad, to a new culture, new mentality, new life?
I believe everyone has a different view of the question and it all depends on where you live. Mine is quite simple. Belgium is not that different from Sweden, both countries are quite similar but with some differences. The mentality of the people and the culture might change a bit from the northern. Here you will find two “worlds” the Flemish part and the French part. The Flemish are closer to the Swedish and German side with the language, fashion and mindset as to the French part (where I live and know better) which is much more Latin. People are open, easy-going and spontaneous.
When I came here as a 16-year-old I was eager to find my place in the world and explore. Felt that once I got out of Sweden, everything was possible. I loved it from day one! Surrounded by wonderful people and places. I only missed the Swedish coast and ocean in the summer time. We were just supposed to stay for three years and then return to Sweden but I had already decided never to go back. After I finished high-school I started to study to become a beautician in Brussels and shortly after I got my first job. My parents contracts were also extended so I only went back to visit friends and family once or twice a year but not more.
During my first years in Waterloo I stayed within the Swedish/American community as this was easier for me due to the fact that I didn’t speak a word of French. I took classes in school but it was so hard. After three – four years I had the courage to speak with others and I got to learn many wonderful people, who instead of embarrassing me when speaking french with my errors and accent, they helped me to improve the same. This says a lot about their attitude and way of thinking. Helpful and I was accepted.
Today I am more Belgian than Swedish. Been living here longer than in Sweden. Married to a Belgian guy, speaking French at home and at work. I still remain Swedish with my mindset and visions, but I’m more outgoing now than I was before.
My parents are now back in Sweden and I miss them so much. Especially now when I have a child. I insist of speaking Swedish to my son everyday so that he will learn my background as well as the language and all the traditions. He’s favorite dish is the Swedish meatballs ‘Köttbullar’ of course 😉
Even though I do not live in my birth country any more, I remain Swedish and still follow everything that is happening there. We always celebrates our famous traditions and encouraging the Swedish team during the World cups.
When a family member or friend is coming to visit us, we love to introduce all the great things about Belgium. The history, the BEER and all the great FOOD