Home to the European Union and NATO, Belgium has been influenced by the French, Dutch, Austrian, and Spanish, to make it a unique combination of cutting edge and traditional cultures. By living with a host family in the southern half of the country and attending a local high school, you can get an inside look at the customs, the language, and the people of Belgium. This is your chance to redefine the meaning of international education and spend a year or semester immersed in the Belgian way of life.
People & Community
Belgians tend to be tolerant, flexible, modest, and open-minded. They value privacy, enjoy a safe and comfortable life, work hard and are self-disciplined.
You will be staying in the southern part of Belgium where people speak French, most likely in a suburban or rural area. Public transportation is well organized and safe, which will enable you to explore the host community whenever you get the chance.
You’ll likely be enrolled in a general (academic) secondary school, but you might also attend a vocational high school. Most days classes run from 8 am to 4 or 5 pm, with Wednesday afternoons off. Studying hard and focusing on academic success is common in Belgium. Most common subjects in Belgian schools are Flemish, math, history, geography, sciences, religion or ethics, and physical education.
People in this part of Belgium commonly speak French. Many people also speak Flemish or German, and are quite proficient in English. You should be able to speak basic French before your exchange, and to help you master the language, AFS will give you access to an online Rosetta Stone language course to study French on your own before and during the intercultural exchange. AFS will help you find language classes during the first weeks of the program, and knowing English will be helpful to you in the beginning.
Belgian cuisine is much more than good chocolate and beer – this is where you can enjoy waffles (wafelen) and fries (pomme-frîtes), mussels and carbonade flamande (beef stew) along with potatoes and bread. Belgians take their time to eat, so even with all these options you’ll have the chance to savor each new flavor. Most families consider eating together very important, especially at dinner.
Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure
Year Exchange PROGRAM
Program Date: August/September, 2019 – June/July, 2020
Birth Date Range: December 23, 2000 – August 23, 2004
Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding, throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family through your learning journey abroad.
Program dates may vary and are meant to help with general scheduling only.
All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and programs are filled first-come, first-serve.