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 24, 2018 – June 29, 2019
Birth Date Range: December 24, 1999 – August 24, 2003
Belgium is known to be a well-educated country with a challenging school system. You’ll likely be enrolled in a general (academic) secondary school, but you might also attend a vocational high school. Before you get to Belgium, you’ll be given access to a Rosetta Stone language course. You’ll start learning French through this online program before you arrive, which will help you communicate with your host family right away!
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.