Study in Belgium: Language & Culture

Belgian diverse and multifaceted culture is mirrored in its multilingual and cosmopolitan environment. Living in Belgium will make you feel like you live in a country influenced by a lot of other European countries, while exploring the stunning architecture, great cuisine and numerous cultural and music festivals that take place every year. Interesting fact: Did you know that the saxophone was invented in Belgium?

Maintaining a strategic position right in the heart of Europe, Belgium has always been in the center of many artistic and cultural European movements. Except for the delicious gastronomy, a great characteristic of the Belgian culture is the comic strip tradition. Belgium is the home country of Tintin, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Spirou & Fantasio and Marsupilami! 

In the arts industry, the Belgian culture includes elements like the Art Nouveau, the Mosan Art, surrealism, the Flemish renaissance and Baroque painting. It’s no surprise that Belgium has one of the highest densities of art collectors in the world.

One of the country’s national symbols is Manneken Pis, a sculpture of a little boy located in the heart of the city of Brussels and close to the stunning Grand Place. The sculpture embodies the sense of humor and independence of the people of Brussels.

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Belgian Food 

What is Belgium most known for? Waffles, chocolate, fries with mayonnaise and beer of course! Thanks to the country’s location, Belgian food is very much influenced by its neighboring countries France, Germany and the Netherlands. Belgian food culture includes dishes like moules-frites (mussels and fries), carbonade flamande (beef and pork onion stew) or waterzooi (fish or chicken soup). 

If you have a sweet tooth then you will enjoy exploring the Belgian pastry. In Belgium you can taste delicious pastries such as the famous waffles or gaufres, speculoos the cinnamon biscuits or croustillons, the deep-fried sweet dough. What about chocolate? Belgium is well-known for being the home country to luxury chocolate brands like Neuhaus, Godiva and Leonidas. 

Last but not least, the Belgian beer. The brewing tradition in Belgium began in the early Middle Ages. Belgium is a small country but produces a very large amount of different beers. In Belgium you can find the most distinct types of beer than any country in the world with more than 1,000 different varieties. Some of them include Tripel Karmeliet, Chimay and Duvel.

Languages of Belgium

You will be surprised to know that the Kingdom of Belgium has not one, but three official languages! The official languages are Dutch, French and German. Needless to say that if you are a multilingual person, Belgium is a paradise for you to practice your linguistic skills. 

Belgium has four linguistic areas: The French-speaking area, the Dutch-speaking area, the bilingual area of Brussels Capital and the German-speaking area. However, until the later 20th century and before any linguistic legislations took place, French was the official language used by public authorities. 

First of all, there is the Dutch-speaking Flemish community where Dutch is spoken by 60% of the Belgian population. This language is almost identical to the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands, although it is called ‘’Flemish’’ by the majority of people and is considered a mix of Dutch and Flemish. 

If you know how to speak Dutch, you will not have any issue understanding Flemish, except some idioms and some differences in vocabulary and pronunciation. The capital city of Brussels is a bilingual city, as both French and Flemish are used equally in transportation or commercial advertising. 

The second most spoken language in Belgium is French, spoken by 40% of the Belgian population. The French-speaking community is mostly located in the capital city of Brussels and the southern Wallonia region. Likewise, if you already speak French, you will not have any problem understanding Belgian French at all. It is all about understanding and getting used to different accents! 

Finally, the German-speaking area of Belgium. This linguistic group is rather a minority, as German is spoken only by 1% of the population mostly in the eastern region of the Liege province close to the borders with Germany. The so-called ‘’Belgian-German’’ are very close to the standard German spoken today in Germany. 

Belgium is a linguistic heaven, as there are much more unofficial smaller languages spoken such as Walloon, Picard, Champenois, Lorrain, Low Dietsch, Limburgish, Marols and Luxembourgish! 

Study in Belgium - Overview

Over 40,000 international students choose Belgium as their study abroad destination every year. Click here to learn why.

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Education System

Want to learn about how higher education works in Belgium? A popular destination for international students given its high-quality education and fascinating cultural diversity, take a minute to dive into Belgium’s higher education system!

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Student Visas

Do you need a visa to enter Belgium to study? Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizen status. You will also be required to bring certain documents with you to passport control at the airport, which we cover as well.

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Housing & Living Costs

No matter where you study abroad, it’s important to create a budget in advance so that you’re prepared. Therefore, we’ve detailed average living and housing costs so that you can get a better idea of what you would be paying as a student in Belgium.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in Belgium may vary. Both international and domestic students are expected to pay tuition fees in Belgium. To cover the rest of the costs, there’s plenty of scholarship opportunities available.

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Application Process

All countries have specific admissions requirements for students to gain acceptance into a university. Learn more about the ins and outs of admission to programs in Belgium, and what you need to apply, depending on your citizenship.

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Ready to look at education in Belgium? Use our search engine to find and compare top programs in Belgium today!

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Last update: 30 Jun 2021


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