Puzzled by Belgium?
“It was so tempting to limit my connections to the other expats already there… it’s a welcoming community. But after a while, it feels strange: as if I lived in a parallel world from my neighbours.”
Sara Reyniers, Freelance Translator, Language Specialist and Journalist specialized in EU policy, about her own expat experience(s)
If you are an expat in Belgium, you might feel the same way. Maybe you never expected Belgium to be as complicated as it is. You feel puzzled by the country, your Belgian colleagues and friends, and you don’t really understand what all these problems about languages are about.
Maybe you work in an international organisation or in diplomacy, maybe you work in an international company and most of your colleagues are expats. Maybe it’s the opposite: you work in a Belgian company, and you don’t connect to the Belgians. Or you don’t work, but you came here with your partner. And while your partner can connect to people through work, it’s a lot harder for you.
So you stay in your expat bubble, only to discover that this can be isolating as well. You tried to make Belgian friends, you tried to get information, you tried to read up on Belgium, but there is not enough information in your language or there is too much information to take in on your own. Integration is difficult. Besides, where should you start?
Slowly you start feeling disconnected, or even downright frustrated and you definitely don’t feel at home.
Do you recognise any of those feelings?
One way to deal with these feelings is to register for an acculturation course. These courses explain a country’s traditions, the cultural or social do’s and don’ts or they give a short introduction to a country’s or region’s history to make sure you understand in what sort of society you live in and help you integrate.
At the Belgian Academy of Culture and History, we take this a step further.
The History of Belgium Integration course is the result of techniques and methodologies we created, based on our expertise and our international experience.
Instead of ploughing your way through endless stacks of books or visiting all the museums in Belgium in search of that illusive Belgian identity, you will find all you need in the History of Belgium course. You don’t have to take years to study our languages, our culture and our history, we have already done that for you.
“Before I joined the History of Belgium course I had a lot of questions about Belgium, how exactly it came to be as an independent country, how it developed into the country it is today, in particular regarding its federal structure and its colonial legacy.
I had been travelling to Brussels for my job since 2006 but I only moved to Belgium in late 2014 and I didn’t really know where I should go to find answers to these questions, particularly since I needed the information in English.
My questions and my desire to find answers and learn more about Belgium were heightened by all the commentary about Belgium being a failed state following the terrorist attacks in March 2016. I got the impression that there were many misconceptions about the country, particularly among expats and I felt that I shouldn’t engage in criticism of Belgium if I didn’t actually know anything about it.
I saw the History of Belgium course being advertised online and I decided that this would be a perfect place to start. Mirella and Michael are very passionate and knowledgeable about their subject and that combined with the small size of the group helped to make the classes interactive and more interesting and personal which I really liked. At the end of the course I came away with a much better understanding of why Belgium is the country it is today. I found their passionate but relaxed style of delivery and their engagement with participants to be one of the best aspects of the course.
I would recommend this course to people coming to live in Belgium if you want to learn something about the country you’re living in.”
Enda Ryan from Ireland, living in Ixelles, Policy Officer, European Commission
Through us, you access a world of information, years of studying and research – and all that in just a few weeks. No more fragmentary or incomplete information, which is difficult to understand in the best of times. No longer just a regional view, with Flemish and Walloon viewpoints in competition for the truth. The History of Belgium course departs from the viewpoint of the outsider and treats with all of Belgium, and not just parts of it.
Through the history lessons in the History of Belgium Integration course you get a clear and concise view on the problems that Belgian society faces today. Through a well-defined narrative, we will help you understand the difficult state organisation and the almost incomprehensible political debates.
You are not alone in your journey to feel more at home. During lessons, you will experience both the benefits of private tutoring as well as the advantages of group dynamics.
During and after this course:
· You will have a thorough understanding of the Belgian state organisation
· You will be able to provide context for the problems you encounter
· You will gain valuable insights into the Belgian culture and identity
· You will understand and be able to deal with your Belgian colleagues’ or neighbours’ regional views
· You will meet like-minded people and feel supported in your need to learn
· You will feel less frustrated about your surroundings
· You will receive a Certificate of Attendance that will prove your personal commitment in this course
· You will feel more at home!
“As a medium-term expat in Brussels, I found Mirella’s courses appealing as they offered a chance to learn more about the place I’ve called home for the past several years, beyond the usual, superficial idea that ‘Belgium is complicated’.
And as a British citizen considering applying for Belgian nationality post-Brexit, it’s important to me to have an understanding of the country’s history, politics and place in the world. The introductory course offered a huge amount of information, in a lot of detail, that gave me plenty to think about between classes.
The depth and breadth of Mirella’s knowledge, her enthusiasm and energy, and her desire to share that knowledge are what set her classes apart, and I’d recommend them without hesitation to anyone looking to gain an understanding of what makes Belgium Belgium.”
Sally Tipper, editor & writer, Brussels, sallybtipper.com
The History of Belgium Integration course takes place every season (Autumn, Winter and Spring). In the Summer you can enjoy it in a 1-week summer school format, including a complete and exclusive cultural program.
Registration fees starting at € 647 (this is the registration fee for the basic program, consisting of an extensive online course with more than 10 hours video content).