A new Culture Smart! guide to Belgium has just been released. Here’s my review of it.
Culture Smart! guides are written for people who want more than just the nuts and bolts of where to stay, what to see, and how to travel. Short, sharp and humorous, they deal with the richly rewarding human dimension of foreign travel by telling you about the beliefs and attitudes of the people you will meet and about situations you may encounter. They help you to understand what makes people tick, the values they live by, and the kind of behavior that will be reciprocated with goodwill and hospitality.
The latest in the series is Culture Smart! Belgium. This is how the publisher describes it:
“Belgium has somehow acquired the reputation of being Europe’s most boring country – a reputation that is entirely undeserved. But perhaps this bland image is a smokescreen, the conventional exterior hiding a subversive sense of humor, a surreal imagination, and a deep-rooted disdain for authority. Or perhaps it is a camouflage, a way in which Belgium, still overrun – however peacefully – by foreigners, can keep a few of its secrets to itself.
“Two main factors seem to determine the values Belgians hold and the ways they approach life: the effects of the linguistic divide, and the country’s long history of exposure to other cultures through trade, war, and occupation – its experience of being simultaneously very small and very strategically placed.
“Culture Smart! Belgium will help you navigate these swirling waters. It is for anyone who wants to understand Belgian society and encounter it with sensitivity and poise. It traces the land’s turbulent history and looks at how the past has shaped the collective and personal values of today’s Belgians. It looks at the Belgian people at work, at play, and at home, and offers tips to help you get along with the people you will meet, on both sides of the divide, and navigate the new situations that you are likely to encounter.
What topics does it cover?
As you can see from the below overview of the chapters, the book is extremely comprehensive.
Culture Smart! Belgium is ideal for anyone thinking of coming to Belgium, either for a short vacation or for a longer stay. I read it and found it accurate and up-to-date, and even features a section on the COVID pandemic. And it’s highly practical, with good solid recommendations as to how to integrate as smoothly as possible into Belgian life. I thoroughly recommend it.
How to get your copy of Culture Smart! Belgium
- ISBN: 9781787023123
- Format: Paperback
- Page count: 200
- Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
- Published at: £9.99 / $14.99 / CAN $19.99
Culture Smart! Belgium is available from various book retail outlets or direct from Amazon Belgium.
Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate I make a small commission from any purchases made through an Amazon link.
Finally, here’s what the author says about Belgian national identity which you may find interesting:
Have you read the guide yourself? Do you think it’s accurate, in light of your own experience?
Yes I read it Timothy, perhaps that didn’t come out sufficiently well in the text above. Yes I thought it was highly accurate, written by someone who knows Belgium well.
Aha. Good. Being Belgian, it’s sometimes hard to see our quirks as being quirks.
Love the description of Belgitude.
How I wish this book was available when we moved to Belgium ?? in 2002!
Yes, I would have loved that when I first moved to Belgium too! (1987!)
“Communities on the brink of divorce but never actually splitting” reminds me of Quebec and the rest of Canada.
… and Scotland and the UK perhaps.
It would make interesting reading before a visit to Belgium.
Yes indeed Carol. Always good to be prepared.
Oh, but Scotland shall split from Great Britain, and if they are not careful Wales shall follow.
If I lived in either of those countries, I would consider that a good idea, and then join the EU.
Thanks Denzil. It looks like an interesting booklet since written from both an insider and outsider perspective. The preview let me read a few pages and the author seems to have captured well the spirit of Belgium – if there is such a thing. I also noted that the Muntpunt did not yet offer a copy and made a suggestion to purchase one for the library, which was accepted! So in the near future, the essential guide will be available for everyone’s perusal.
I cannot see such divorce happening for at least two reasons: (1) where would Brussels go and (2) how to divide the government debt? So debt and Brussels are at least two forces that keep Belgium together :-).