Measuring Our First #Brussels Year


Last January, we packed up our old life and moved to #Europe. #Brussels presented us with an uncharted city. We faced new customs and a culture with not one, but two foreign languages.  We had to learn protocols for tipping, recycling, shopping, driving, and just about every other aspect of daily life.  We left family and great friends behind in #Chicago not to mention the best #pizza in the world.

The expat experience can be daunting and even depressing at times, but mostly, it’s exhilarating.  We consider ourselves very lucky indeed to have this chance to enrich our lives.

As a blogger, I can’t let our one-year anniversary pass without some commentary. But how best to measure our first year in #Belgium?  Well if you’re a fan of Broadway, you know one answer: 525,600 minutes.  But that calculation seems bland, inadequate and ironically, lifeless.  What one does with those minutes is what matters.  Rather than have me tell you about our year, let me show you!

We could measure the year by our annual consumption of mussels, pommes frites, chocolates, beer, roasted chickens, waffles, etc….

#Brussels #Mussels & More

#Brussels #Mussels & More

Best Roasted Chicken in the World

Best Roasted Chicken in the World

# Belgian Beer

# Belgian Beer

 

 

#Piere_Marcolini Chocolate

#Piere_Marcolini Chocolate

#Antwerp Chocolate

#Antwerp Chocolate

Decadent Flemish Pastry

Decadent Flemish Pastry

 

But such a calculation would point to a staggering caloric intake that would lead to depression and further weight gain as we sought comfort in more of the same treats.  Besides, we can’t count that high.

Being an author, perhaps the words I wrote or the books I read provide the best measure:

IMG_5261

Or something more practical like the number of haircuts?

But in a way, haircuts are as predictable as lunar cycles…and probably less interesting.  Such an inventory only chronicles the aging process.  Once again, it’s not that time has passed, rather it’s what you do with those precious months.

There’s always Selfies to capture our year.  Did you know that Oxford Dictionary named ‘Selfie’ its Word of the Year for 2013?  2014 brought us the selfie stick which one now sees regularly in the #Grand_Place.  Having been blessed with long arms, I don’t need any such device.  But I do wonder why a group shot that includes the photographer isn’t called a ‘Groupie’.  Take a peek at our 2014 Selfies.  At the risk of being overly introspective, they’re not the worst way to capture our first year.

Then there’s our adventures, made easy by living in the heart of Europe.  #Ghent and #Antwerp are closer to Brussels than Algonquin is to Chicago. #Brugge is only sixty miles away. As for other romantic destinations, trains between Brussels and #Amsterdam and #Paris take less time than the Loop to Crystal Lake local runs on Metra. But we’ve already chronicled our trips on Facebook.  For a more balanced glimpse into our daily lives, I should capture Jim’s 60-80 hour work weeks or my daily writing ritual. But all work and no destination photos makes for a dull and reader-less blog.

Another yardstick (or rather meter stick now that we live outside the USA), might be the best of all.  A cavalcade of houseguests and visitors popped into Brussels. Visits kept us connected to people, tempered loneliness, and brought us a steady supply of home goods unavailable in Brussels such as Sadie’s canned pumpkin and Jim’s Smart Start cereal.  Houseguests alone numbered twenty-five spread out among fourteen separate visits between March and November.  One visitor has become a daily guest in our home–the friendliest Belgian we’ve met, Puhi the #cat.

Yes, time spent with family and friends, old and new, is the best way to measure a year.  And given the number of people we hosted or connected with during our first twelve months living in #Belgium, I’d say Jim, Sadie and I had an exceptional 525,600 minutes.

Looking forward to another great year in #Belgium.

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