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Monday, October 24, 2011


       I remember it well, it was December 23rd and I'm casually checking my email and I see a message from my rotary councilor . I open it , not thinking there would be anything important in it . JUST KIDDING . All it said was "Congratulations , first choice, Merry Christmas, coach" After I ran around the house screaming in pure ecstasy. I realized that I knew NOTHING about Belgium .  In the following months I started doing some research . I didn't know that there were 3 official languages and when I put down Belgium as my #1 country the fact that I could have been put in Flanders never crossed my mind. I knew they spoke it there but I didn't know it was .... half the country. Shortly after I found that out ,I discovered they hold the record for longest time without a functioning government *pumps fist in solidarity . Yeah they even beat out every middle eastern country JEALOUS MUCH?! It doesn't really matter that they don't have a government anyway because there is separate bodies of legislation for Flanders, Wallonia and the city of Brussels. So for example the legislation for schools in Flanders is different than that of Wallonia and you bet your sweet ass they aren't going to give that up any time soon.
       Continuing with my story , this past weekend a few other exchangies and i made the trip to Antwerp . This was my second time to Flanders. My first time was to Oostend , the ...Belgian "seaside". I noticed some huge differences , some are a bit obvious because Antwerp/Anvers is a very wealthy city. They owe their wealth to the Diamond industry ( yay little african kids in mines) and the fact that it's a huge port city .I think it's one of the biggest port cities in Europe. And the fact that Flanders is doing better than Wallonia only accentuates their wealth . Besides several cross dressers Anvers is beautiful. Most of they city has classic Flemish/Dutch guilded architecture. It's very clean and I didn't see any homeless people. EVERYONE rides bikes but thats a very Felmish Dutch thing anyway . People ride bikes in Wallonia too but its just a bit more hilly and you know you're in Flanders because of the bikes. Also NO ONE was ugly . no one. I mean everyone wasn't drop dead gorgeous but there you didn't come across someone that you wanted to put a bag  over their head. Then you had the shopping. OMG THE SHOPPING. there's one main street for us commoners and then you can wander off to the Dolce and Gabannas and Armanis if you've got paper to spend . I took a few videos and I didn't get to see the port because i mean i'm a girl and i want to shop . but i did see a really cool cathedral ;)
   To get a little bit into politics here , I'll explain why Flanders is doing better than Wallonia. There are several reasons but here are some of the major ones. Just like the "rust belt" in the USA Wallonia was the industrial center for Belgium with plenty of factories and mines. They were the powerhouse and would take in millions of immigrants from Italy , Poland ect.. to work in the mines. Now the Industrial age is well over but Wallonia still takes in immigrants and now you have to factor in all the Arabs too . There are millions of Arabs in Belgium .It's actually the second largest in Muslim population in Europe. What happens is that Wallonia doesn't have enough sense to say no to them and the welcome them with open arms but , they don't assimilate to the culture . There are parts of Belgian cities that are completely arabic Mosques and all . They're here because they can be . Plus they will get medical attention if they need it . In Flanders they are more stringent with immigration . If you aren't an actual Belgian citizen and you show up to a hospital they'll send you on your merry way. Flanders is putting the actual Belgians first . But theres a compromise and its more or less like this . Flanders , Socially well off UGLY language ( DUTCH/FLEMISH) . Wallonia , Not so well off socially  Pretty language (French)<3<3.

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