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Sam Dowle, Ardennes

Who are you?

My name is Sam Dowle, I am originally from the UK, I am 35yrs old.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to the Ardennes region of Belgium with my husband.We had a holiday home there for 13 years. We moved over there as I had a head injury (post concussion syndrome) in Sept 2016, I needed a change and a lovely place to chill till I am fully recovered.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Signing up for a bank account and applying for an internet package proved difficult as we weren’t Belgian citizens. It eventually got sorted.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

We haven’t met any other English people in the area. It is rare to see/hear any other Brits. We socialize with the people in our village which also helps us to learn the language (French) better.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

The locals in our village are very kind. When our house flooded our next door neighbour went in and tried to save all our belongings. Good neighbours are hard to find so we are very lucky.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest cultural difference? Hmm I do think people in Belgium are very organised & laid back/patient. Also, I love it when you walk in somewhere, a shop or launderette or cafe, and everyone says hello.

What do you like about life where you are?

Our life has changed completely as we lived on a sailing yacht in the UK so being in a cottage with more space is fab. Our views are beautiful and clean.

In Belgium I love how important recycling is to people, it should be like this in the UK. It is a very clean country and people take time to do things instead of rushing around like headless chickens.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I would love to speak French better but I am slowly picking the language up. I have noticed Belgian drivers on mobile phones quite often – this makes me sad and needs to stop.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I absolutely adore Belgian food. It always looks much better quality than in the UK. I’m never one to turn down a waffle or two!.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

The advice I would give is enjoy this wonderful country, and learning the language is a must.

What are your plans for the future?

Future plans – I run an Instagram page called ‘Beach bum en Ardennes’. The story of how a British beach bum copes amongst the Belgium Ardennes forest! I am an art teacher/interior designer as a profession so I would love to do some interior work or teaching. I am due to put my blog live in a couple of weeks’ time too. Onwards & upwards.

You can keep up to date with Sam's adventures on Instagram.

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