It has been about little more than 10 months since we’ve moved to Belgium from Portland, Oregon in August of 2011. I absolutely fell in love with Belgium, or to say, Europe from the day we moved here. We’ve been to many new cities and countries in the past several months; we had the chance to experience breathtaking nature, ancient history, marvelous structures, religious artifacts, variety of people, mind-boggling cultures, and tried some of the best dishes in our trips. We plan to undertake a lot more places before heading back to The States in summer of 2013 or may be 2014…let’s see how much we can manage. Apart from enjoying almost everything that Belgium or Europe has to offer us, I must confess, there are times when I miss my home really bad. They don’t get to me as much as they used to a few months ago. I am trying to enjoy everything to the fullest, since I know that we eventually will have to go back to The States sometimes in a year or two. So, here we go, these are the things I miss the most about Portland or U.S.A.
6) GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE: This is not to say that customer service in Europe sucks everywhere, but I am totally spoiled by the great customer service we get back in the USA. I have seen some grumpy faces from several sales persons back home too, but the degree of attitude or the lack of professionalism that I receive here sometimes surprises me. I once had a lady in our local bank in Belgium who was pissed because I had to close my account with them and then this lady in a supermarket said to us once something like “you Americans…” (in French) followed by some stereotype phrases. It doesn’t bother me as much now; I figured may be it is in their culture…so I should just learn to live like that.
5) CALLING MY FRIENDS & FAMILIES ANYTIME I WANT: We brought Vonage VOIP service with a local USA number along with us in Belgium, so that we can talk to friends and family for a much cheaper price than using calling card. That’s great news but the problem is that my families in the east coast are 6 hours behind us and the friends in Portland are 9 hours behind us. They are sleeping when I have free time to talk during daytime and when their day start or get off from work at 5 or 6 in the evening I am almost ready to go to bed. This really drives me nuts sometimes when I am very upset or too excited about something and I can’t talk to my sisters or my dad or my friends and relatives about it.
4) KNOWING WHAT I AM BUYING IN THE MARKET: I am not really a big fan of smoked salmon. Few weeks after we moved to Belgium, I bought a pack of salmon, not knowing that they were smoked salmon. After cooking it, I didn’t know what was wrong with the dish and why it smelled weird. Then I realized it was smoked salmon. Oh man, how would I understand those Dutch or French writings on the package? That’s a big problem not knowing the local language and therefore, not knowing what I am actually buying sometimes. Thanks to my iPad language translators that made life little bit easier. But I don’t carry it every time I am in a market. Sometimes some choices of food here look so good from outside, but since I can’t read the package properly, I was fooled couple times. I am trying hard to pick up the local languages, French & Dutch, and it is getting better day by day… I hope.
3) TACO BELL & OLIVE GARDEN: These are two of my most favorite restaurants in America. I can compensate Olive Garden with some of the Italian dishes we tried during our few trips to Italy but Taco Bell… no way. There is no other place in this world like Taco Bell. My heart sometimes cries for their Mexican Pizza (or Chalupa) with “fire” sauce on top…so good, so delicious. I wish to make a trip back to USA soon just to get some bites off of these little pieces of heaven…blahhh, I can’t fantasize anymore.
2) WEEKEND GET TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS: We had a great friend circle where we lived in Portland. Our kids were of similar ages and the friends were with about similar mentality and background. We used to do camping together every year, arrange surprises for each other’s birthday and other special events, eat out, watch movies, have potluck parties, make day trips to nearby places, rent big houses for everyone every now and then to just chill, relax, and cook together. The most that I miss about the friends in Portland is that when we had no actual plans we used to just get together at someone’s house, bring a dish, and just chat till we all were sleepy and tired. We know very few people here in Belgium, but don’t really share that kind of casual friendship with anyone. I very much miss those great moments.
1) MY JOB: I was a science/math teacher in a small private school back in Portland. Although I have worked there only one school-year, this was the most rewarding job in my little career life. I miss every bit of that school… the environment, the staff, to be able to share my thoughts on improving the education level, and most of all… the students.
I guess grass is always greener on the other side. We always envy what we don’t have at the present. May be, when I go back home, I will write a post on “Top 10 things I miss about living in Belgium”. I miss my home in Portland everyday that we bought just about a year before we moved here. But thanks to the almighty who gave us this opportunity to live and experience this wonderful life in Europe…no complaints whatsoever 🙂