There’s definitely a language barrier sometimes, but a large majority of the people I’ve met and that are here speak English, especially as Antwerp is a city with a lot of different people with different nationalities. Sometimes words that don’t exist in Flemish are hard to convey to people, but generally it’s pretty easy to communicate. I’ve had people come up to me a number of times asking in Flemish for directions or something, and it’s obviously understandable that they’d assume I’d speak it, but after I say “Ik spreek Engels” (I speak English) they usually switch over and have no problem with it. Additionally, at first I would ask in Flemish if the other person spoke English, but I quickly learned that almost everyone does and I can just speak in English to them in the first place. If anything, they’ll just be a bit surprised because obviously the typical, common language is Flemish. But like I said, no one has seemed to have a problem with it. I’ve definitely had some encounters where the amount of English the person speaks is very limited, but that’s usually happened with older people. The biggest problem I’ve encountered so far is reading menus at different restaurants and cafes, but it’s fairly easy to pick up on different items after a bit, and some words are very similar to English words. And almost everyone I’ve encountered is more than happy and willing to help out translating. Also, grocery shopping was a bit of a challenge but once you’ve done it a few times and obviously are able to see the product, it’s not too hard to figure out. I’ve definitely picked up some phrases, words, vocab, etcetera while here and it’s really fascinating how we just get used to these things and know what they mean and incorporate them into everyday use and conversation. Some interesting differences I’ve found though are that “lime” in English is “limon” in Flemish, which looks similar, but sounds like the English “lemon”, but the English “lemon” is actually “citroen” in Flemish. Also, “wit broodje” is “white bread” but also sounds like “wheat bread”, whereas “wheat bread” is “bruin broodje” in Flemish. Where I am is in the north of Belgium, Antwerp (which borders the Netherlands), and it’s in Flanders/the Flemish speaking region, but in Brussels it seems the majority of people speak French, and in the south of Belgium (which is the Wallonia region, and borders France), like in Charleroi, they speak French.
Today has been pretty damn good. Picked up my package from the post office and the jeans I ordered (both of which I’ve had before) fit perfectly and kind of make it look like I have an ass. I also went grocery shopping and got some cheap wine and cava, and found pretzels (didn’t think Antwerp had them)! Also, I found out that the coffeemaker Tartine has that I’ve fallen in love with does have a US importer and can ship the one I want to Missouri. It’s pretty expensive but works wonderfully and is so perfect. It’s going to be worth every penny, and I’ll probably order it soon and have it shipped to Sam for him to hold onto until I get back in January and we start looking for places together. Good things. Alcohol, jeans that fit well, my dream coffeemaker, an incredible person also named Sam, good friends, humor, and cold weather. Stayin’ power.