Pictures are not the real interviewees but just representatives
Ah Brussels, a city that is well-known for its beer, waffles, french fries, and chocolate! This beautiful city is not only the gourmet capital as it’s also the capital of Europe, EU institutions like the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament that call Brussels “home”.
One of the most memorable things about Brussels is its famous waffle!
Another interesting fact about Brussels is it is a city of foreigners. According to World Population Review, 70% of people who live in Brussels are not Belgian-born. Brussels is home to many immigrants, with people of foreign origin making up the region's population. 32% of residents are of non-Belgian European origin, and 36% are of other backgrounds, mostly Moroccan, Turkish, Asian, and Sub-Saharan African. The two largest foreign groups in Brussels are from France and Morocco. This is unlike the rest of Belgium, which is primarily comprised of the Flemish, Walloon, and Italian groups.
According to World Population Review, 70% of people who live in Brussels are not Belgian-born
Brussels is super international. When you are walking down the street and strolling around the city, you will hear people speak in many different languages. Brussels is a beautiful city, with parks, historical sites, and amazing architecture. There is always something going on, from the cultural events, concerts, festivals, group gathering moments for example book clubs or Sunday vegan cooking initiated by people that are coming from different nationalities and backgrounds.
Despite all the good things about Brussels, we ask 4 expats that have been living for some time in Brussels about their life story and their point of view about the city.
AISHA, 27 YEAR-OLD SOFTWARE ENGINEER FROM SYRIA
" I have been living in Brussels for almost 5 years. I came together here with my whole family, dad, mom, and 2 brothers to escape the war. I can say the transition to adjust to my new living situation, from Syria to Brussels was far from easy. From the language difference, cultural contradiction, the custom, and even the food! I remember I cried almost every day, having to wholeheartedly accept the situation without having any option to return home to Syria. It took me almost an entire year to finally be able to come to the place where I had this particular conversation with myself saying "Ok .. Brussels is home now, this is the place that you can grow and build your own life again" Of course compared to Syria, where everything is literally different significantly due to the war, Brussels is a much better place. I am happy that I was able to keep my spirit up and let Brussels shows me its charm, let me fall in love"
Q: From your living experience so far, what do the impact of living in Brussels and its influences on your personality and well-being?
" Brussels still amazes me until now. Its diversity has undoubtedly helped me during my life transition and until now too. There are a lot of Syrian people, which the majority of the initial motive of them coming here was also to escape the war, so whenever I missed Syria and everything about it, I could just call one of my friends from the community and arrange something. I have so many international friends too from different backgrounds so I never feel alone. It is easy to make friends here due to our similar life experiences. Almost everyone I have met who is not native must have experienced one or two moments that are relatable with each other and that is really nice"
ha Nguyen, 20 YEAR-OLD business student from Vietnam
" Look .. Brussels is an amazing city, don't get me wrong. But the weather that is almost grey most of the time throughout the year (even in Summer!) drives me crazy sometimes. I am a sunshine girl, the weather in Vietnam is what makes you fall in love instantly with the city. Nonetheless, the reason why I moved to Brussels is to pursue my business degree and build a career here. Brussels is an international city so does the type of companies that run a business here. The possibility for me to expand my wings after graduation and work with an international company is highly possible and wide open."
Q: How difficult is it for you to live as a Vietnamese in Brussels?
" I haven't encountered any discouraging challenges to be honest since my arrival here in 2018. Brussels offers you easy access to explore the city for example with the bus and metro and during special occasions (that could happen more than two times a month), you can take the bus and metro for free. In order to have this advantage, it is best for you to subscribe to STIB - MIVB (transportation company) Twitter and newsletter. In regards to being Vietnamese here, the main setback for me is the language. Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and due to the country's official languages which are Dutch, French, Deutsch, I find it so hard to keep up with mastering the languages. If you want to live without so many hurdles on your plate, mastering one of the languages is extremely important. In Brussels, the spoken languages are Dutch and French. I have to follow a language course after my class or student job in order to help me to integrate with Brussels's culture as it will make my life so much easier by knowing and understanding the language"
cara marianne, 35 YEAR-OLD full-time housewife from jamaica
" My husband is a diplomat and that is a reason why I live in Brussels at the moment with 2 of our kids. The first thing I had in mind when the initiative to move was brought up by my husband was "Would there be a housewife community there where I can join so I won't be feeling so alone?". I have been moving around with my husband due to his job but moving to Brussels would be different because now our 2 kids are here on the journey as well. The kids are busy with school and I am often being home alone. I have found my community now thank God! In the past months, I surf a lot on Facebook, look for international groups and communities that I can join, expand my network, meet new friends, and have time to help myself feel comfortable living in Brussels."
Q: What are the pros and cons of living in Brussels from your perspective?
" In general, Belgium is a wonderful place to live. Brussels has great healthcare, cultural and educational facilities so you technically never run an idea on what to do during the weekends and your spare time. Within municipalities in Brussels, many young and expats families reside and enjoy their Brussels lifestyle including my family too. Oh and also, Brussels' culinary is amazing and actually underappreciated. The food culture in Brussels, the chocolate, and the beer! The city's traditional dish is mussels with fries, which can be found in practically any brasserie. Moreover, due to Brussels's multicultural environment and its international community, you can enjoy literally any type of food and cuisine from other countries as well. There are tons of restaurants and shops for example from Asia, Turkey, India, Morocco, Greece, essentially you can get everything you want to taste and get from countries all over the world in Brussels.
Regarding the cons, it is undoubtedly the traffic. Traffic in Brussels is horrendous. I wouldn't recommend driving if you don't have to. Finding a parking place is frustrating and challenging. You'll spend a lot of money and time on it! Also, motorways feature several entries and exits, mixing local and long-distance traffic, causing crashes and clogging traffic. Traffic congestion is a part of life in Brussels.
LUKAS CHESTER, 28 YEAR-OLD WRITER AND CONTENT CREATOR FROM AUSTRALIA
"Since moving to Brussels, I have been able to actualise my dream to discover all parts of Europe with such easy access and practicality. Brussels is essentially the center of Europe so you can always find a way and even an alternative to travel, both inside the city or outside of Belgium. From my traveling experiences, I was able to sustain my writing career and have been busy creating content about my life in Brussels as a writer and traveler. I love the fact that Brussels is so rich in culture, you would never get bored because there is always something going on in the city, you can always find new subjects to learn from, new people to meet and hang out with and even new love (talking from my personal experience haha!)"
Q: What advice would you give to someone that is about to come to Brussels and planning to stay for a longer period of time (not just as a tourist)?
"I would say always bring an umbrella wherever you go because the weather in Brussels is tricky and you must not rely upon nor trust completely the weather forecast. When it says it's gonna be fully sunny today, bring an umbrella. If it says it's gonna be gloomy, obviously having an umbrella with you is a must! The second piece of advice is don't be afraid nor feel defeated to learn the 2 official languages which are French and Dutch. You have to at least understand some basic words and phrases to help you go around with the daily activity such as doing groceries or visiting the museum. Understanding the language will help your life transition so much easier because if you spend too much of your time making friends with people from the same nationality as you and not making friends with the locals, it will make your life experience here less memorable and very limiting. Have at least one or two Brusselaars friends and ask their guidance on how to live exactly like the local, that will make your life experience in Brussels the best one of your life."
If you want to be featured in our article and you have some amazing story to tell about living in Brussels, becoming an expat, living far away from home, or anything that is worth sharing, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org