Belgium

A Brief Look at Belgium
October 1983 – June 1993
Belgium’s History is intertwined with its neighbors, primarily, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg.  There is quite a history of ward between some of the European powers and was under the dominance of other European countries for many years.
When Belgium experienced the Industrial Revolution, it brought the region prosperity.  Most of the population  of Belgium speaks several languages, primarily Flemish, French, German and English.  Belgium is a country divided by two languages – the French in the Walloon region and Flemish in the Flanderen region.  There appears to be an ongoing conflict between these two regions which has tremendous political repercussions.  I wonder if the country will ever unify.
I found that in order to live in Antwerp and thrive in this city, learning Flemish is essential.  It is not a particularly difficult language if you have a Germanic background.  The people are very friendly and helpful when you speak their language, although, I have found this to be true in most countries in which I have lived.  Even just making the effort to communicate in the local language seems to add to the quality life and certainly mitigates the challenges of living in this country.
Belgium, like many European countries, has a rich and complicated history.  And like many European countries, it has a complicated political system, which I have never fully comprehended.  It is an interesting country to live in and our stay there was very enjoyable.  We found a wonderful expatriate community through the Copenhagen International School, where I taught for several years and our two sons attended.  We integrated into the Flemish society through our various interests in food, tennis and soccer.