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Study Abroad in Belgium

With its culture renowned for tolerance and diplomacy, Belgium is an ideal place to begin your international education. Spend a year of high school in Belgium wandering the cobblestone streets and you’ll understand why this country has produced some of the finest artists and thinkers of Europe. As you go about your daily life, you’re likely to hear a lot of Flemish (a regional variation of Dutch), but you may also come across natives speaking French, German, and English. This is your chance to experience first-hand the cultural melting pot of Belgium by living with a Flemish host family and attending a local high school.

Things to Know About Belgium

Belgium is considered to be one of the most satisfied countries in the world, which may be because so many people are involved in their communities and government. Even so, Belgians are often reserved around new people, and you might have to take the first step in getting to know someone. But once you do, you can expect to be surrounded by a warm and friendly community. In the culturally unique Flanders region, people usually prefer to use Flemish, but many are also able to speak French.

Eligibility

Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range
15yrs, 8 months
to
18yrs, 8 months at start of program
Language Skills Preferred, but not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Belgium

Visa Information

AFS will provide visa guidance and support documents (if applicable). Visa processes can be lengthy and complex; you may be required to travel long distances to apply for the visa if there is not an embassy, consulate, etc. close to your home. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond a return date from your host country. We urge you to apply for or renew your passport as soon as possible if applying to an AFS program. We recommend not taking any trips (domestically or internationally) within 2 months prior to your AFS program as it may interfere with the visa application process and result in a late program start date.

Travel & Orientation

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience.

Also during this time, AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you.You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Belgium will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff and volunteers…as well as your fellow AFSers from around the world! Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Flemish culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

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Your Accommodations

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Belgium. You’ll most likely be in a rural or suburban town, but there’s a chance you could end up in a city. Belgium is a small country (about the size of the state of Maryland) so no matter where you are you’ll always be just a train ride away from Brussels, the coast, or neighboring countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg).

Belgium Host Family

Meeting Your Belgian Host Family

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Belgium are different. But Belgians are known to be flexible, open-minded, and accepting of other cultures. You’ll most likely find your host family to be close-knit with one or two children.

BFL-HS-afs-students-2

Your High School in Belgium

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. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday classes generally run from around 8 am to 4 or 5 pm. Most schools have Wednesday afternoons off, with classes ending around noon. High schools in Belgium have high academic standards and you may find that your peers are more focused and dedicated to their studies than many in the US. But don’t worry – you’ll also have time to unwind after school with extracurricular activities offered through community or youth organizations.

Belgium Daily Life

Daily Life

Teenage Life in Belgium

While living in Belgium, you can get involved in the regular fairs and carnivals that parade through both small towns and big cities. You’ll find festivals celebrating anything from electronic music to historic witch trials! Belgium is also the home of popular characters like Tin-Tin and the Smurfs, and the people have a long-standing appreciation for comic strips (in French, bandes dessinées). Your Belgian friends will probably enjoy sports, especially soccer and cycling. Teenagers also participate in activities like tennis, bowling, swimming, ice-skating, and canoeing..

Belgium Food

Food You’ll Encounter

Belgium is famous for waffles (wafelen) and fries (pomme-frîtes) that you can buy from vendors on the street. Belgians claim to have invented French fries, and serve them in paper cones with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Their chocolate is legendary, with brands like Godiva and Leonidas offering delicious pralines. You’ll also find lots of 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.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • Secondary medical coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Belgium? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Complex
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
$$$
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one. When you return home from your study abroad in Belgium, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.

That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning. It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Belgium.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.