Here are some tips and tricks about our little country and the habits of the people who live there.
Outside of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is customary to shake hands (formal situations) or kiss each other (informal situations) when meeting someone. However, in light of the current situation, greeting someone with a simple ‘Hello’ is perfectly acceptable.
In Belgium, the price of your meal or taxi ride includes the service charge. As a result, you do not have to leave a tip. However, you may if you received good service. You can give cash to your waiter or taxi driver or ask them to round the amount up to a higher figure if you are paying by card.
Holidays and closures
This website lists the different holidays and closures for companies in Belgium.
In Belgium, public toilets (in train stations, service stations, shops and some restaurants) may cost money (typically between €0.50 and €0.70). To this end, remember to always carry some change with you.
Paying in cash
Since 1 December 2019, payments in cash are rounded to the nearest zero or five cents. While one and two cent coins are still a valid form of payment, they are being used less and less. However, if you are paying by card, the amount will not be rounded.
Example: your total in the supermarket comes to €18.27. If you are paying by card, you will pay the exact amount. If you are paying in cash, you will pay €18.25. More information.
Making friends before and during your visit
Travelling to an unknown country is a big adventure! Rest assured, you will make friends along the way. But before you even leave, you can join Facebook groups for your new city, your new school or even your new class! This is a good way to meet people and ask any questions you may have.
Some higher education institutions organise their own support system: a local student will help you with your first steps, show you around the city, show you your classes, etc. Check the website of your host institution to learn more. You can also subscribe to the Buddy System.
You can also join student groups. Whether they are organised by faculty, the city or an interest group, they will allow you to meet other students in a festive atmosphere.
In any case, do not worry: between roommates, neighbours, classes and outings, you will have lots of unforgettable encounters! Belgium is a particularly multicultural and international country: you will meet other people who, like you, have chosen to study, work or live in French-speaking Belgium.