If you've moved to Brussels, you're probably wondering how to meet people in your new home city.
Many expats find it difficult at first to make friends in the new country, but with a little bit of effort and some patience, you'll soon find that there are plenty of ways to meet people in Brussels and form strong bonds with them.
Brussels has a very diverse population, with around 75% of the population being non-Belgian. This means that the city is full of people from all over the world, with many different languages being spoken. Because of this, it's very easy to meet new people and make friends in Brussels.
If you'd like to make friends in Brussels as an expat, here are some tips:
Join a language class. Learning a new language is one of the best ways to make friends. You'll be surrounded by people who share your interest, and you'll get lots of practice speaking with them (and listening). Your teacher will also have lots of advice on where and how to meet people in Brussels. Search one language institution in your area, and you will surely many international and expats signing up for a language course as well.
Join a local club or association. There are many clubs for newcomers such as the London-based Expat Club Belgium or the International Women's Club Belgium (IWC). These clubs organise activities for their members such as parties and dinners out at restaurants around town. If there isn't a club in your area yet, why not start one yourself?
Meetup groups. If you're looking for something specific — women only, techies, wine lovers — Brussels' Meetup groups have got you covered. Whether you're into knitting or whiskey tasting or yoga or anything else under the sun, chances are someone local has already started a group around those interests. You can check any expats group on the meetup website here.
Join a sports team or gym. There are numerous gyms and sports clubs in Brussels, including many that cater specifically to expats. If you're looking for something more casual, there are also plenty of places where you can sign up for pickup games with other locals.
Volunteer activities. Volunteering is another excellent way to meet people in Brussels because it gives you an opportunity to engage with others and meet new people. Some organisations even offer language exchanges where you can practice your French while helping others improve their English.
Get involved with social groups and events. There are plenty of social groups where people go out together on a regular basis. Some groups organise dinners or even pub crawls while others might have weekly board games nights or film screenings at their homes.
Join Expat Facebook groups. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to helping newcomers integrate into Belgian society so it's worth checking these out if you're feeling isolated. They can provide valuable advice on everything from finding work and housing through to learning French!
Making friends as an expat in Brussels is a great way to help you integrate into the city better. You will be able to learn more about the culture, traditions, food, and traditions of Belgium. This will help you feel at home in Brussels and not just like a tourist.
Here are some of the most popular activities for expats:
Theatre – There are more than 30 theatres in Brussels, including the Royal Palace, which has shows in French, Dutch and English; La Comédie de Saint-Gilles, which offers comedy shows; and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, which has opera performances year-round.
Cinema – There are more than 20 cinemas offering movies in both French and Dutch in Brussels, from mainstream cinemas like UGC Kinépolis to art house cinemas like Archipel (which screens foreign films with subtitles).
Dancing – For dancing lessons there is Le Studio Flamenco (Spanish flamenco), La Maison du Danse (modern dance), La Place Follia (contemporary dance) and many others. Most offer beginner courses as well as intermediate options on weekends or after work.
Making friends as an expat is a great way to learn about the local culture. When meeting with other expats, there will be opportunities for them to explain how they like living in Brussels, what things they enjoy doing when they get off work, and what they think of Belgian food, beer, and music. This will also give you a better idea of what life is like in Belgium and helps you understand your new life in Brussels better.