Life in Belgium-French

You will love Belgium! After getting past the language barrier, you will make friends so easily. Belgians are such sweet people, trust me, and there is always something to do there! Lizbeth from CA, Year Program
School is taken very seriously - no clubs or sports. Also, families are very, very close, which was difficult for me to adjust to. Anastasia from KS, Year Program
Visit the Dutch side if you are in the French speaking region. It is a completely different experience! Lizbeth from CA, Year Program
Belgians can come across as a bit cold before you get to know them but don't let that scare you away. They really are wonderful, fun people, you just take the first steps when meeting new people. Don't be afraid to start up conversations. Once you get close to them, Belgians are really great and trustworthy friends. Judith from PA, Year Program
French Belgians are very polite, always saying "thank you" and "please." You must say this as well. The style of clothing is also very different; cowboy boots were in style when I was there.Megan from OH, Year Program
Bring a raincoat or umbrella, it rains all the time in Belgium. Those dorky rain boots sitting in the back of your closet may become your best friends.Lauren from MN, Year Program
School was different in many ways. For one, unlike my high school, Belgian students stayed with the same class throughout most of the day and teachers came to the classroom rather than students finding the teachers. This was really helpful in order to make friends. The paper is a different size, you have to use fountain-type pens, take notes with a ruler, stay very organized using an obligatory school journal, and other such things that you just get used to. Lauren from MN, Year Program
In Belgium, you greet everyone with a kiss in the morning. Some mornings I would forget to give everyone a kiss or I would just wave. A lot of people thought that I was angry with them!Nicole from ME, Year Program
In Belgium many people are hostile towards the United States. I did not find them ever to be hostile towards me personally, but it meant a lot to them to know an American with whom they felt they shared many views and who could be a friend. It takes patience and a lot of frustration to work through all of these negative views but in the end it is very rewarding. Michele from MA, Year Program
School was hard with the language barrier. But talk to teachers and show them that you are trying and may need their help. The distance between teachers and students is enormous, I missed being able to have discussions with my teachers after a class, really getting to know them as people. They are willing to help, but they usually just want to keep the distance.Emily from MA, Year Program

The Essentials

Language Requirements

Applicants to the Year High School Program in Belgium-French speaking  are expected to have at least two years of French language experience OR arrive with  A-1 level knowledge which is defined as: being able recognise and use familiar words and simple phrases for concrete purposes. Ability to introduce yourself or someone else. You ask and answer basic questions about home, family, surroundings, etc. You can communicate in a basic way when the other person speaks slowly and clearly, and is ready to repeat or reformulate to help communication.

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Pauline and Paulette (2001)
  • The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
  • The Secret of Kells (2009)
  • A Town Called Panic (2009)
  • Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest (2006)
  • A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures (2010)
  • Illegal (2010)
  • Belgium Divided (2008)
  • Brussels Express (2012)
  • Belgium: Long United, Long Divided
  • Belgium - Culture Smart!: a quick guide to customs & etiquette
  • A Tall Man in a Low Land: Some Time Among the Belgians
  • The Sorrow of Belgium
  • Falling
  • The Golden Basket

Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.