Belgium is a complicated but vibrant country with lot’s of different ways you can experience it. But how do you make the most of your stay as an Expat? Take the time to explore the country’s historic cities, picturesque towns, and stunning countryside. Indulge in the local delicacies, from mouthwatering chocolates and waffles to flavorful beers and hearty stews. Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene, which includes world-class museums, galleries, and music festivals. You can also join in on the many activities tailored to expat life.
Belgian culture is a rich tapestry woven from the influences of its Dutch, French, and German heritage. From the surrealism of Magritte to the comic strip creations of Tintin and The Smurfs, Belgium has made significant contributions to the arts. The country’s love for beer, with its hundreds of breweries and countless cafés, is a central part of its cultural identity. To experience Belgian culture, one can explore its vibrant art scene by visiting museums such as the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels or the Magritte Museum. You could also try attending the annual Aalst Carnival parade or immersing yourself in the country’s love for cycling.
To best experience Belgian culture, one can delve into the country’s artistic heritage by visiting museums and attending cultural events. Exploring the distinct regions of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels allows for an appreciation of the diverse linguistic and cultural influences within the country. Engaging with locals, and participating in traditional festivities such as the Sinterklaas celebrations, can provide an immersive experience of Belgian culture. Additionally, taking the time to understand the significance of symbols like Manneken Pis and exploring the country’s contributions to music, such as the invention of the saxophone, can deepen one’s appreciation of Belgium’s cultural heritage.
Belgium’s long and rich cultural and artistic heritage is epitomized in the paintings of Pieter Bruegel The Elder. The country’s contribution to Art Nouveau is evident in the Brussels cityscape, and folk culture is kept alive in a variety of indoor and outdoor museums. Belgium holds several significant annual musical events, including the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition. Belgians have also taken American jazz and made it their own, with a thriving jazz scene and respected jazz festivals.
Belgian cuisine is revered around the world for its mouthwatering dishes that perfectly marry quality ingredients with rich flavours. Traditional Belgian dishes include Flemish Stew (Carbonnade à la flamande or Stoofvlees), Liege Waffles, and Belgian Fries (Frites). The country’s culinary landscape is also known for its seafood, particularly mussels, and a variety of cheeses such as Remedou, a Belgian hard cheese.
Aside from the famous Belgian dishes, there are also regional specialities that reflect the country’s strong culinary identity. These specialities are influenced by connections to various European countries and are rooted in historic recipes that have persisted for centuries. Some regional delicacies include Eel in the Green, Ham and Belgian Endive in the Oven, and Grey Shrimp with Tomatoes.
While many Belgians speak English, learning the local languages can greatly enhance your experience as an expat. It not only helps you navigate daily life but also allows you to connect more deeply with the local community and culture. As an expat in Belgium, learning the local language can greatly enhance your experience. Belgium is a multilingual country with three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. The language you’ll need to focus on will depend on the region where you live.
If you’re in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region, learning Dutch will be essential for daily interactions, work, and socializing. In Wallonia, the French-speaking region, mastering French will be crucial. In the German-speaking community in the East, German is the primary language.
There are various resources available to expats to learn the local language. Language schools and courses are widely available, both in-person and online. Many municipalities offer integration courses specifically designed for newcomers, which often include language instruction. You can find more information about French courses here and for Dutch courses here.
Additionally, there are language exchange programs where expats can practice the local language with native speakers in exchange for helping them learn their language. This can be a great way to improve language skills while making new friends. Furthermore, immersing yourself in the local culture and daily life can greatly aid language acquisition. Watching local TV programs, listening to radio stations, and reading newspapers in the local language can all contribute to improving language skills.
Finally, don’t be afraid to practice speaking the local language, even if you make mistakes. Most locals appreciate the effort and will often be supportive and encouraging.
Belgium is home to a thriving expat community, offering a network of support, social events, and cultural activities. Engaging with other expats can provide valuable insights, friendship, and a sense of belonging in your new home.
Embracing the Belgian expat community can be a rewarding experience. Whether you’re a newcomer or have been living in Belgium for some time, connecting with fellow expats can provide a sense of belonging and support. Here are some tips on how to embrace the Belgian expat community:
By actively engaging with the Belgian expat community, you can create a supportive social network, gain valuable insights, and make the most of your expat experience in Belgium. Remember that every expat journey is unique, and embracing the community can lead to lasting friendships and a deeper connection to your new home.
One of the best ways for expats to settle into Belgium comfortably is by renting a serviced, furnished apartment. These apartments offer a hassle-free living experience, providing all the amenities and comforts of home without the need to purchase and transport furniture. Serviced apartments also offer flexibility in lease terms, making them ideal for expats who may have uncertain durations for their stay. Additionally, they often come with added services such as cleaning, maintenance, and utilities, allowing expats to focus on enjoying their time in Belgium without the stress of managing a household.