Semester i Belgien
Belgium is a low-lying country on the North Sea coast in the Benelux. With the majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of the Belgian capital of Brussels, and as a member of the long-standing international Benelux community, Belgium sits at the crossroads of Western Europe. Its immediate neighbors are France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the southeast, Germany to the east and the Netherlands to the north.
Being such a small country (300 km as its maximum distance), you can get anywhere in a couple of hours. Public transport is fast and comfortable, and not too expensive. Between larger cities, there are frequent train connections, with buses covering smaller distances.
Belgium consists of three regions:
The northern, Dutch-speaking region of the country. It is mostly flat and includes well known cities like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.
The bilingual capital region of the country and headquarters of the EU.
The southern, French-speaking region, incorporating a small German speaking region in the east near the German border.
Brussels - Belgium's capital and the unofficial capital of the EU. Nice historic centre and several museums of interest.
Antwerp - Belgium's second largest city, with a giant cathedral, medieval streets and artistic heritage.
Ghent - Once one of Europe's largest cities, now a perfect mixture of Antwerp and Bruges: a cosy city with canals, yet with rich history and lively student population.
Bruges - One of Europe's wealthiest cities in the 14th century, it's large and beautiful historic centre remains.
Liège - largest city of Wallonia, along a wide river, industrial cityscape with hiking and resorts in the nearby hills.
Dinant - Small city in a stunning natural setting, a popular spot for adventure sports such as canoeing and rock-climbing, best visited in winter.
Leuven - a small city dominated by one of Europe's oldest universities. Beautiful historic centre and a lively nightlife.
Mechelen - a small medieval city with a nice historic district around the cathedral.
Ypres - once one of the largest cities in the Low Countries, now best known for its destruction during the First World War, marked by memorials and cemeteries.
Ardennes — the most sparsely populated in Benelux, this is a hilly countryside region covered with forests.
Binche — for three days in February, the town is transported back to the 16th century for one of the most fantastic carnival festivals.
Flanders Fields Country.
Fondry des Chiens.
Pajottenland — an area of green fields and small villages, some of which have been portrayed by artists such as Pieter Bruegel.
Waterloo Battlefield — the Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon lost the final battle that changed Europe's face forever.
To do some local sightseeing, especially in Flanders, a lot of infrastructure is available for cycling. Bikes can be rented virtually everywhere. In the country side of Wallonia, mountainbikes are available, and rafting is popular along the border with Luxembourg.
For party-minded people, Belgium can be heaven, when you connect Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven you can see that they all are in very short distance from each other. In this little region, you will find the most clubs, cafés, restaurants per square mile in the world. A good starting point is Leuven or Ghent because of the strong student/youth culture. You can expect a wide variety in music appreciation, going from jazz to the better electronic music. Just ask around for the better clubs and there you will most likely meet some music fanatics who can show you the better underground parties in this tiny country.
Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. However, English is widely spoken by the younger generations. You will find that some older people do speak English but it is less likely.