General tips about Belgium
Belgium is split into 2 parts: the Walloon part where they speak French, and the Dutch part where people speak Dutch. In Brussels, people use to speak French even though the capital is located in the Dutch part. Belgian people speak English very well so no worries for you!
For Belgian students and students from the EU, higher education is financed mostly by the public authorities. Students must pay an annual registration fee throughout their studies. The amount varies depending on the higher education institution, the type of program and students’ eligibility for financial aid.
International students from outside the EU may need to pay additional registration fees – again, the amount depends on the chosen institution and degree program. You can obtain specific information about the total fee amount by contacting your chosen institution(s). Tuition fees in Belgium can be as little as €80 (US$108) for a student receiving a scholarship, and can reach around €830 (US$1,120) per year for non-scholarship students.
In Belgium, the common form of student accommodation is called “kot”: it’s a room in a shared house with other students. Universities can propose you different kot options but there are also private landlords. On campuses, you can find “KAP” (Kot A Projet) it’s like a kot but with a theme and created by students. For example, you can find the Erasmus kot for international, the Musicos Kot for musician students, and many other kinds too. Each year, the current tenants are recruiting the new students to join and fill their kot.
Of course, if you’re not happy with the kot, you have access to other options like a studio or host families. Mind that the bedding and kitchen utensils are not included, you have to get your own. If you want to find housing in Belgium you have to act fast: start looking for accommodation around April or May if you’ll start studying in September.
Accommodation in Belgium is readily available for short-term for international students. However, if you wish to rent a private flat, it’s often necessary to sign a one-year contract. Expect to pay between €150 (US$200) and €400 (US$540) per month, depending on whether you prefer university housing or private accommodation, and depending on where in Belgium you study.
… And student life!
In Belgium, as a student you can join “circles” which are sort of clans or associations. They organize student events and parties, and they’re also responsible for integrating new students with a ceremony called a “baptème” where they order you to do stupid things, where you have drinking games.
The law doesn’t oblige you to have a housing insurance contract but we strongly recommend you get one – better safe than sorry!
When you see a contract stating that everything is included, it doesn’t include electricity, keep that in mind.
Your internet will cost you over 45€, but cheap phone contracts are easy to find.
For French people, in Belgium there are no “chèques” and you can’t pay with them.
Belgian bank accounts
The major banks in Belgium are ING Bank, KBC and Fortis. However there are a number of local and international banks to choose from when opening up an account. Typically banks in Belgium are open from 9 AM in the morning until 4 PM in the afternoon. Only a few banks are open on Saturdays. And some banks close for an hour, between 1 pm and 2 pm, for lunch.
When you have selected a bank and are ready to open up an account for yourself you will find it to be a pretty simple and quick process. You will need to have your passport or another form of ID to open up a current account. And that is all that you will need!
If you would like to have your account open when you arrive in the country you can pre-open an account before you get into the country. You will need to go to the bank once you arrive though to get your bank and credit cards in person.
We hope this guide will help you to enjoy your experience abroad in Belgium, we would be happy if you can leave a small comments, feel free to contact us for any question! Finally if you want more tips and advices about student life in Belgium check out the student blog VBAC Infos
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