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You've been in Belgium too long when...

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  1. You like chocolate flavour in everything: in breakfast cereals, in cappuccino, melted on fruits, choco-spread instead of jam, or in just about any dessert.

  2. You can't drink coffee without a Speculoos biscuit.

  3. You never get and extra round in a bar even when you've spent a lot of money previously.

  4. When eating at the restaurant with a large group of friends or colleagues, you don't split the bill equally and expect everyone to pay only for what they ordered, even if it takes 15 minutes to do the calculations.

  5. You find it a completely normal procedure that an immigrant worker cannot get a job without a work permit and cannot get a work permit without a job.

  6. Even though shops close at 18:00, you expect to be thrown out at 17:45 even when you're going to buy something.

  7. You check the news for a strike before taking the bus.

  8. You are suspicious of people smiling at you in the street or being overly friendly for no reason.

  9. After losing your ID card, you don't expect your town hall to have the new one ready before two months, although it is compulsory to have it with you whenever you go out.

  10. You stop thinking that people in the Benelux are stingy, and you have indeed taken up the financially healthy habit of bringing a bottle of water hidden in your bag to avoid paying for an overpriced one at the restaurant or cinema.

  11. You participate to the annual re-enactment of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, which took place in 1302, and think it's normal to joyfully celebrate such a bloodshed in the 21st century.

  12. You consider breaking the speed limit normal, and honk and flash at people who don't.

  13. You got your car plate in Luxembourg to avoid speeding and parking tickets.

  14. You blindly presume that a person of North African origin has committed the crime that has taken place in your neighbourhood (even before the police have arrived - a good two hours after they were called).

  15. You think it's normal that cities only 50 km apart should have completely different fashion styles in the same chain shops.

  16. You can tell from which city a Fleming or Walloon comes from just from their accent and the way they dress.

  17. You start counting Olympic medals separately for French-speakers and Dutch-speakers.

  18. You never wear any color brighter than dark green. You automatically assume anyone who does is either:

    • a) Dutch
    • b) Scandinavian
    • c) American
    • d) Extremely rude

  19. You think it would be a good idea to impose English as the official Belgian language to simplify communication between Dutch, French and German speakers.

  20. You automatically assume that everyone else speaks at least three languages, but refuse to speak more than one yourself.

  21. You struggle to make progress in French or Dutch since everytime you try to practice with locals they reply to you in fluent English.

  22. You are not taken aback that trains to and from the international airport, in the EU capital, don't even have announcements in English. You don't react when all of the foreigners storm out of the train at Brussels North when coming from the airport, knowing fully well that it's not where they want to get off.

  23. You don't bother going to the police to report a bicycle theft because you know they don't care and won't do anything about it (except maybe give you a fine for bothering them).

  24. You wonder all day long where the 50%+ taxes go.

  25. You are not surprised to get hospital bills from the previous tenant six months after moving to your new apartment.

  26. You know many 'unemployed people' working in black.

  27. You know where to find a shop open on Sunday (which can be a real challenge).

  28. You want to watch the evening news at 19:00.

  29. You have spent so many weekends in the Ardennes that you have counted the number of horsts and grabens (ridges and depressions) on the N4 or E411 motorways south of Namur.

  30. You are surprised when you go to other countries and motorways are not lit in bright orange light at night.

  31. You want to get a job in Flanders because it's better paid, but save up to buy a house in Wallonia's Meuse valley.

  32. You know that "Belgian mussels" come from Zeeland (in the Netherlands) and that you probably won't find any in restaurants in Wallonia.

  33. You think that the national flag of Belgium is blue with 12 stars on it - isn't that the one that we see everywhere ?

  34. You complain whenever you have to travel 100 km (the other end of the world), but think of an event that took place 500 years ago as fairly recent history.

  35. You keep a long list of restaurants where you have to eat, but can't seem to see the end of it.

  36. You understand why Tintin looks like he does, and even know locals who look just like him !

  37. You never tip in restaurants or cafés because it's included in the bill by law (luckily enough, otherwise waiters wouldn't be able to survive).

And you've been in Brussels too long when...

  1. You understand why everyone who can afford a car has one, even when they could get around by using only public transports.

  2. You can barely see the movie behind the subtitles at the cinema.

  3. You consider it perfectly normal when the names of cities on road signs change from French to Dutch and vice versa every 5 or 10 kilometres of motorway.

  4. You know what "Caprice des Dieux" means, and you know it's not just a variety of a cheese (but also the nickname of the European Parliament shaped like the said cheese box).

  5. You discuss with your friends the merits of other EU countries keeping not just one, but two or three embassies in Brussels (to Belgium, to the EU, and sometimes also to Luxembourg) considering that they all have hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats working there.

  6. In a fit of euromania you have rephrased the Latin expression "All roads lead to Rome" to "All roads lead to Brussels" and use the term SPQB ('Senatus Populusque Brusselus', displayed on some public buildings built by King Leopold II).

  7. You can't wait that your newly arrived friends step on some dog turd.

  8. You always seem to see foreigners out in the streets and wonder where all the Belgians are hiding.

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Belgian flag (© christophe BOISSON - Fotolia.com)

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