Belgium A to Z – J and K

J – J

J in Dutch doesn’t sound like J in Portuguese. Too bad, because my name is Joana, which automatically transforms it into Ioana, for a Belgian who reads it for the first time.

The mistakes also happen the other way around: they hear it first, they write it wrongly. Because the first A in Joana is a short vowel (it’s said Joana, not Joaaana), which in Dutch implies that it should be followed by two consonants. Hence, Joanna.

It’s a daily struggle. *sigh*

K – Kisses

Aaaahhh… we all know the wonderful feeling of sticking our cheek out in the air to a kiss that didn’t come. The exposure left by the mouth twisting to the side, void of return from the other cheek, which swifted away… Social bliss!

It happens a lot when you don’t know the appropriate kissing code. In Portugal it’s always two, regardless of the situation, unless you’re posh or attempting to be posh. In Belgium it’s more complicated. People kiss once when they’re very familiar with each other. You’d kiss your mom once when you arrive at your parents or the good friend you’ve been expecting at the coffee place. Belgians also kiss three times, when are congratulating each other, for example. And you only kiss people you know well, not someone you just met or with whom you’re not so familiar: that’s what hand shakes are for. And all of this is fine tuned for each province of Belgium.

So, kissing more is less intimate. Therefore, it’s actually a good thing my cheeks are floating in the air so often! It means I’m deserving more and more single kisses from Belgians!


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