Monday, November 19, 2007

Cultural Differences (Part Trois)

Since arriving 7 months ago I have really practiced my patience. I have always been a very patient person, but I promise here, you have to exercise patience or you will go insane.

Case in car, or better yet, cars!

Since I am here for a limited time (2 years) many leasing companies did not want to do business with us. They wanted to do more of a longer term lease (3+ years). We finally found a company that would lease me a car for 2 years. I will not go into too much detail about the insanity of this leasing company....but it has been awful.

When I first arrived, I received a rental car which was normal and what I expected. It was a nice Mercedes that I really liked. See below! It was large enough, yet small enough to get in those tight European parking spaces!

In Belgium you have to order your cannot just go to a dealership and pick one off the lot. So, about a month after my arrival, I ordered the Ford Fiesta which would be my permanent car. I got to pick the color, etc. The downside was that it would take at least 3 months to come in. Is that crazy or what??!! You cannot tell me there is not a black Ford Fiesta anywhere in the city of Brussels?? Guess not!

Anyway, I placed my order and was given a loaner car. Let me remind you that I arrived in April and we ordered the car in May. It was around June sometime when I received my "first loaner". I say my "first loaner" because it did not have air conditioning!! HA, I guess the leasing company did not know who they were dealing with by giving a Southern girl a car without air conditioning! I had this car for a total of 2 days during which time I made a phone call and was promptly given a new car with air conditioning!!!!

My next loaner was great! When I first saw it, I thought..."oh no...a station wagon"!! Let me tell you....this car was awesome! It was very long, in fact, that it has a sensor for backing telling you how close you were to something behind you!! It had air conditioning too! It came in very handy for transporting all of those necessary move-in items like closets and the many shopping excursions to Ikea!! I also had it for when my Mom and cousin came to visit as well as my friends (Jennie, Ginnie, and Gail). It was great to have a large car with the amount of luggage they all brought! The only downside to this car was the length. There were days where I would have to park around the block from my apartment because I could not fit into any open spaces on my street. The timing for this car was perfect with all I needed to buy, transport, and the family and friends who came to visit!

Finally, 1 week before I was leaving to go to Memphis in October, my Fiesta arrived.....4 months after we ordered it! Not too bad for Belgium standards! When I first got into the Fiesta I was amazed at just how small it really is! I have since learned to love it and so excited when I can squeeze into most small spaces! It is an automatic but acts a lot like a manual (you will have to see it to understand!). I know that I will have trouble with future visitors and their luggage (but we will manage so don't let that scare you away from coming!!!). I do love my little car and wonder what I will want when I have to buy a new car when I go back home???!! I am getting use to the mentality of it not mattering what kind of car you drive here. A car is a means of getting from one place to the matter the brand or size!!

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