To greet each other in Belgium seems obvious for all Flemish. But for an Erasmus, this stage turns out to be a real challenge in our everyday life.
For a french like me it is easy to greet someone in my country. Even if you don’t know very well each other, when you arrive somewhere you kiss twice, whether if it’s a girl or a man. I’m not saying that it is better in France to greet someone, sometimes it could be very long to greet the whole group when you just arrive at a party. But Greeting someone in Belgium is more than a psychological challenge so as not to be thought as a weirdo.
For example, it is the beginning of an academic year, you just met your new classmates. You are sitting between Julia and Jan. The french habit would want you greet Julia with two kisses and Jan with one handshake. Bad idea ! In Belgium a simple « Hello » without a specific gesture is enough when you don’t know the people.
Two weeks have passed, you have already shared a « pintje » and a bowl of « frietjes met mayo ». Now you can greet Julia and Jan in the Belgium way : One kiss on the right cheek for Julia and a handshake for Jan and that’s all ! No more ! don’t be french, don’t kiss another boy in Belgium.
Then comes Julia’s birthday. it is a special event so for the occasion, you have to give not one, nor two but three kisses to Julia. Belgian’s kisses are so precious that they reserve them for special occasion. But the question that I ask myself for a long time is : if I can’t kiss a man, but I have to give three kisses when it is the birthday of someone, what am I doing if it’s the birthday of a man ? I think I will never understand.