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Experience of a foreigner coming to work to Belgium

When I came to Belgium almost 10 years ago, I started an intensive process of integration & learning the language. When getting my frist jobs, there were few things that shocked me about the Belgian work environment:

1. The most shocking one was when I was told I was not allowed to work extra-hours unless I had the managing director's permission. And no wonder! I was coming from Honduras, where working extra hours is the norm and it's even frowed upon to leave work "on time".

2. How many people took a 3-week summer vacation. In Belgium it's common practice to take a nice rest to recharge energy during the summer months. In so many countries, a 3-week vacation is a dream almost no employee can dream of.

3. I was happily surprised to know I had a safety net called "chômage" in case things didn't turn out as expected. This sense of security is unheard of in so many countries around the world.

4. I was impressed to learn it's companies fighting for talent, not the other way around.

5. It was nice to learn the company would pay for my transport expenses to go to work and that I would receive meal vouchers on top of salary.

6. I was also shocked to see I was paying higher amount of taxes on my pay slip! Then again, I was later impressed Belgium gives you taxes back if you paid too much initially.

I always keep a reference of how things are elsewhere in the world as it helps me to be grateful more often and complain less often. (Doesn't mean there's no room for improvement) 😉

Looking back, I am so grateful for every job I've had and for my professional journey in Belgium! I've learned the magic is in the process! :)

Have you had similar experiences in other counties that shocked you?

Read more on what other candidates in Belgoim are saying here.

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