From Minnesota to Belgium: What It’s Like to Live Abroad

By Oscar Wolfe

I couldn’t imagine moving to another house, much less another continent. After fourth grade, my close friend Edward Winkler moved all the way from Minneapolis to Brussels, Belgium. I wanted to know what it would be like to move across an ocean. Especially from a kid, who didn’t get to make the decision. He had to leave everything, including me (a single tear runs down my cheek).

Why did you move?
Because of my mom’s job at a hotel company.

What has been the best thing about moving?
Traveling as well as meeting new people.

What’s been the worst thing about moving?
Not being able to see my friends and family from Minnesota.

How does school differ?
Well, the British teaching system (I go to the British School of Brussels, an international school or BSB) is very different from ours. For example, the teachers have us call them by their first name rather than last.

What has it been like having to adapt to the new languages?
For the most part everyone speaks English as a second language. So communicating is fine. But all the kids on my hockey team chat in Dutch, so I still can’t understand them.

Great-Edward-Brussels
Belgian waffles in Belgium! Edward and his brothers Isaac (left) and August, with their au pair.

How have your younger brothers dealt with the move?
They’ve been pretty good about it, but sometimes they get a little bit down about not seeing family and friends.

I know that your dad is a former Minnesota state representative and is still involved with American politics. How do you guys keep up with what’s happening here?
He makes very frequent trips back as well as checking the news.

Where do you like living more?
Hard to say, they both have their advantages. For example, the travel and school experience here in Europe, and the hockey, family and friends of Minnesota.

What do you think it will be like to come back?
It might be like returning from a vacation and getting back into the habits of home.

Great-Edward-Barcelona
Edward with his mom in Barcelona.

How many countries have you visited since moving to Belgium?
Eleven different places including: France (4 times), England (4 times), Spain (2 times), Germany (3 times), Sweden (6 times), Denmark (2 times), Netherlands (4 times), Portugal (1 time), Canary Islands (1 time), Senegal (1 time), Latvia (1 time), and Switzerland (1 time).

What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?
London, England.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in Europe?
Whole Octopus (minus beak!) in Malaga, Spain.

How do you guys watch TV, considering the fact that they speak different languages there?
I’m going to be honest. Here, we don’t really watch TV. Here, we watch on Netflix.

Do you do different things for fun there?
Well it’s quite easy to travel around Europe being that we are in the centre of it. So we like to travel a lot—a weekend trip to Paris or London.

What advice do you have for someone, especially a kid, who is having to go through some big move?
My advice would be to make the most of it. Whether it’s to a new house near where you were before, or an entirely different country, you should try to make friends, have fun in school and play your sport because those things might take your mind off some of the more stressful parts of moving.

Great-Edward-CopenhagenJPG
Edward’s view of Tower Bridge in London
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