NAME: Nick Arnold, 28
BORN IN: Leicester, United Kingdom
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: Ghent
Nick: “I have been living in Ghent, Belgium for a few years now. I met my Belgian girlfriend at university in England eight years ago. After a long period of living in separate countries, I decided to move to Belgium. I am currently learning Dutch, which is much harder than I expected. Being one the contributors of this blog gives me the perfect opportunity to explore even more of Belgium.”
What did you know about Belgium before you moved here?
I knew quite a bit about Belgium before I moved here. I knew Belgium was popular for beer, chocolate and fries and I also had a basic knowledge of the popular Belgian football teams.
What do you like most about Belgium?
I am a huge beer lover! So I am more than happy discovering the 1000s of beers available. I also really like living in Ghent, it is a very diverse city with a great mixture of history and modern culture.
Is there anything that surprised you when moving here?
When I first moved to Belgium, I had to get used to the fact that people aren’t as friendly and open as the British people. That was hard at first. Also the humour is a bit different. The Brits use a lot of sarcasm and exaggeration in their humour, which can get lost in translation when talking to Belgians.
The top 3 things to see or do in Belgium in your opinion?
You should definitely take your time to explore Ghent, there is so much to see. In the summer you should also take a boat trip through the city. If you’ve never been to Belgium before, Bruges is a must see, the city center is really special. The Gentse Feesten (Ghent Festival) is also something I would recommend, the whole city comes alive for 10 days in July and everyone parties 24/7, I have never seen anything else quite like it!
In Ypres they have a strange event called the Kattenstoet where they throw toy cats off a tower in the town square. It’s a very random experience
What’s your favorite cafe?
In Ghent I tend to visit the travel-themed bar Mosquito Coast. It has a great atmosphere and serves some fantastic cocktails. If you want to be totally wowed by the diversity and overall greatness of Belgian beer, visit the Delirium cafe in Brussels, you are in for a big surprise.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
There are a lot of great restaurants to choose from. De Frietketel has the best fries and homemade veggie burgers in Ghent. ‘t Klokhuys and De Stokerij also come to mind, if you are looking for typical Belgian dishes in Ghent.
Favorite Belgian food and drink?
Beer, beer and more beer! Also the Belgian version of stew, called stoofvlees, is very good.
Favorite Belgian expression?
‘Waarom? Daarom!‘ in Dutch. In English it literally means ‘Why? Because!’. It’s what you reply to a nosy child, but it’s quite funny that it rhymes.
Favorite Belgian custom?
I already mentioned the Ghent Festival, that is a great yearly event. In Ypres they have a strange event called the Kattenstoet where they throw toy cats off a tower in the town square. It’s a very random experience.
Favorite outdoor attraction?
The music festival Rock Werchter has one of the best line-ups for rock and indie music every year, and is slightly cheaper than some of the other European festivals. The musician Stromae is currently one of my favourites to listen to, he is well worth checking out.
What advice would you give to anyone visiting (or moving to) Belgium?
See as much of the country as you can. Each city has a really different feel. Also, if you get the chance, make sure you spend some time in the Ardennes, it’s beautiful.
I’d like to share my 15 minutes of fame with… Kat Zoekt Thuis, Ghent
Kat Zoekt Thuis (cats looking for a home) is a charity based in Ghent and Bruges who take care of neglected and stray cats whilst looking for suitable people to adopt them. Kat Zoekt Thuis works mainly with volunteers and relies on donations and fundraising events. They are always looking for volunteers, if you feel like helping out.