Expat integration in Belgium
Belgium! Such a nice country to live in, except for all that paperwork… and their strange culture… and all the languages… and last but not least the weather!
Why is everything so complicated here?
Practically all the newcomers I’ve seen didn’t understand Belgium or the system. Nor did they understand why there have to be three national languages. And why oh why is everything always so complicated? Help! Just litterally “Help!”
They didn’t know what to do anymore. Most of them moved because of their partner, some for their career but I always heard the same story. They didn’t know the language and they didn’t understand the culture. It’s horribly difficult to make friends because “Belgians are hard to take to”. Consequence? They couldn’t feel at home, felt lonely and even considered going back to their country of origin.
Every expat living in Belgium probably went through this fase and knows exactly what I’m talking about.
“It is a pure mess trying to get everything done in Belgium. There is no sunshine and Belgians are very hard to befriend!”
Sadly enough, nothing can be done about the weather. Everything else though: Is my degree valid here? Which type of visa should I get? Where do I get that done? Oh, at the commune? Well, they only speak Dutch or French there *oops*. Not this form you needed, but another one? But I thought you said…? Nevermind, I’ll get the other form.
What if you could get things done more easily and have time for what’s really important?
And so it goes on and on forever apparently. I think this is probably the thing people complain about most during their first conversation classes.
Then, however, when the storm has passed, they suddenly realise they don’t know anyone yet. They didn’t have the time to make friends and even if they did, Belgians were really hard to talk to, let alone to become friends with. At work they also experienced situations in which people switched to the local language unintentionally and made cultural jokes. Not really the nicest nor easiest way to integrate, but of course they all got through it. They mentioned that knowing what people say and being able to reply without having to think too hard is a bliss. This was especially the case for people who needed to speak the local language at work or with their Belgian partner (or in-laws).
Would you like more time for what’s really important? Feel free to invite me to a meeting!
Some testimonials from our students