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Culture Shock

15:28 17/08/2011

Want to know where to find a tap-dancing class? Don’t know how to get from Brussels to Milan by train? You can post a question on the Q&A and it will probably be answered within a couple of hours. It can be anything at all. Someone will know the answer.

 

Clubs

It takes time to settle into a new country, but there are several organisations designed to make the transition as smooth as possible. Check out the network of expat clubs and associations that have developed in Brussels, such as the American Women’s Club and the British & Commonwealth Women’s Club. Most are listed on on this site or in the Bulletin’s annual Expat Directory. Information on meetings and events is given in the Bulletin’s Community page.

Find a job

Lots of people come to Brussels looking for a job, so competition is stiff. But most English-speakers don’t have too much trouble finding work. The main job offers are listed in The Bulletin and on xpats.com. You can also find international jobs at www.jobsbrussels.com, www.jobsinbrussels.com, www.references.be and groups.yahoo.com/group/TheNetworkBrussels (free subscription required).

Meet the Belgians

Unless you marry a Belgian, it is very difficult to integrate into Belgian society. Most Belgians are fairly reserved and like to spend their weekends with their families. They also tend to leave Brussels on a Friday evening, spending the weekend in the family apartment at the coast or in a cottage in the Ardennes. As a result, there is little opportunity for meeting Belgians informally. But you might manage to strike up a friendship by joining a language class, volunteer organisation or ballroom dancing class.

Friendsetting

Following London, Paris and New York, friend setting has reached Belgium. Aimed at young single professionals, the idea is to get together after work in a relaxed ambience. The @SevenInternational Club meets in the fashionable Mirano Continental on the Chaussée de Louvain every Thursday. The atmosphere is relaxed business style, with people swapping business cards as they dance. Doors open just before seven and most people leave before midnight, so they can be at their desks fresh the next morning. There’s no particular dress code, but it helps to take along a business card to hand the doorman. Also worth a look the third Wednesday of every month is Afterworx in Antwerp. While the thousand-plus crowd is decidedly more Belgian than international, Afterworx has more flash: live entertainment, dancers, five star catering and other attractions that make the €10 entry fee worth every cent.

Sport

The expat sporting scene is particularly active in Brussels. You can easily track down fellow players for a game of rugby, football or golf. For those who don’t like team games, several groups organise runs every weekend, while Friskis & Svettis arrange energetic Nordic walking in the Brussels woods at weekends.

Written by Editorial team