Author: John Lee (CultureMee Co-founder)
The Trappist brewery Brouwerij Westvleteren, founded in 1838, brews Westvleteren 12 which is considered by many to be the best beer in the world. But there is much more to Belgium than the local beer.
I have spent so much time in Belgium over the last 10 years and developed a real love for the country and the people.
I used to work with a large Irish building materials company which had manufacturing and distribution locations all throughout Belgium, so this gave me the opportunity to really get to know the Belgian culture.
The first rule I was told when coming here was to not confuse Belgians with the Dutch.
However for me, my biggest surprise was how there is not one but two main cultures in Belgium; the Flemish speaking region (Flanders) and the French speaking region (Wallonia). I was surprised at how they are in so many ways worlds apart.
You see this for example in how people greet – French speakers tend to give someone a kiss on the cheek whereas Flemish speakers normally give you a handshake.
To further complicate matters, Brussels can be tricky as it’s a little bit of a mix of both, although French is the main language spoken there.
This example goes to the heart of why we started CultureMee, our free app which helps you embrace culture when travelling abroad.
So what is CultureMee?
High level, we help you unlock the local culture, including basic do’s and don’ts, dining etiquette and business culture (useful when negotiating in the local markets!).
We also provide lots of handy travel advice for typical traveller frustrations such as visas, vaccinations and plugs.
We recently launched a video platform, which will put you in the driving seat to give your own perspective on culture.
For anyone still hungry for more, we’ve got plenty of fun facts you keep you entertained. Did you know the unibrow is considered a highly attractive feature in women in Tajikistan?
Join us on our journey to help bring culture to the world, one traveller at a time.
To see Dee’s tips on navigating Belgian culture, see:
To see Dee and I explain our CultureMee app, visit http://culturemee.com/videos/video.html?id=r1ab7fa452cb0fca087175f5b204d5b1.
P.S. Here’s one more of our CultureMee fun facts, did you know that Belgians invented French fries, not the French!