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Bruxelles, ma belle: Erasmus experience

Published by flag-pt Cat Arina — 10 months ago

1 Tags: flag-be Erasmus experiences Brussels, Brussels, Belgium

What is the student lifestyle like in Brussels?

It is not a student city by any means (in Belgium those are Gent and Leuven...), but there are still many students and many things for them to do.

How much does it cost to live in Brussels?

It depends on your choices, but I would say at least around 700-800€ per month, including rent and food, no extras. If you are at ULB, particularly campus Solbosch, since March 2022 you have two lunch options in the cantine for 2€, one of them vegetarian and sometimes vegan, and other two for 4.6€.

What good cultural sites are there to visit?

Unlike what I think the general opinion is, I believe there are really a lot of beautiful places to visit in Brussels.

Besides the vary numerous parks the city has, that are perfect for a picnic, for socializing, or just spending some time alone in nature (when it is not raining...), namely:

  • Bois de Cambre 
  • Parc du Cinquantenaire
  • Parc de Bruxelles
  • Parc de Forest
  • Parc Léopold
  • Étangs d'Ixelles (not really a parc, but still very nice)
  • and so, so many more...  really an amazing city for people who like proper green spaces.

There are also many cultural sites, like:

  • Grand Place 
  • Atomium
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
  • Parlamentarium: an interactive museum about the history preceding the EU, and also the EU itself and the differences between the integrating countries. I highly recommend, also the entrance is completely free!
  • Palais de Bruxelles
  • Palais de Justice (unfortunately, in maintenance construction for a couple of years...
  • Mannekin-Pis, as well as Jeanneke Pis, and Zenneke Pis (not my thing, but for sure a landmark of the city and even the entirety of Belgium)

If you are portuguese or speak portuguese, I also recommend seing the Fernando Pessoa statue in Place Flagey.

Besides these places, there are many museums in the city, I just didn't visit them. From what I understood, with an ESN card the museum fans can get some significant discounts.

What is the food like? What are your favourite dishes?

The belgian gastronomy might not be the most famous in the world, but you can for sure enjoy some local delights, like waffles, chocolate (amazing chocolate in whatever piece of food that contains chocolate), and frites. There are some more local foods, although I didn't try them all mostly because I thought they might be expensive (might be wrong though). I'd suggest you try carbonnade flamande and, of course, meatballs with mashed potato. Due to the proximity of France, boulangeries are also everywhere and, in general, every croissant or bread you eat is going to be very good, even the cheapest supermarket ones.

Since the city is so multicultural, you can also try foods from many places of the world, made by natives of these countries. You could try, for example, the sunday market on Place Jourdan.

Where is good to go on a night out in Brussels?

Most people go to either the city centre (De Brouckère...), the area between ULB and VUB (Cimetière d'Ixelles), the european quartier (for drinking and talking) or a house party. Most of the times, people socialize by meeting around 19h in a bar and drinking beer and talking through the night, but there are also some bars for dancing that you don't pay to enter, and also discos with some entrance fee. The two main issues I found with nightlife in Brussels were the lack of public transport at night (metro ends at 01h, sometimes even earlier, and there are some few night buses but it really depends on where you live); and also some predatory people (here I highlight sadly Cimetière d'Ixelles - but just be careful and be around people you trust at all times).

Every Thurday night (without heavy rain...) people especially from the european bubble meet in Place Luxembourg and have basically a party. This is known as PLux, and you can meet many interesting people there. Just be careful with your phone because sometimes thiefs do phone-stealing sprees in PLux, targeting mostly drunk people.

What advice would you give future students heading to Brussels?

You don't need to be fluent in French, of course, but it will only benefit you to learn at least a bit: sometimes shop owners, etc, don't speak english. This is particularly relevant if you go to ULB; you can get free french courses there, for a whole semester or sometimes an intensive course for a week, just be careful to see when the level test is taking place in advance, or you can't get in. It is also a great way to meet more foreign students.

I wasn't there for most of the winter, but still it rains a lot: learn to embrace it, grab a raincoat and enjoy your life! Belgians don't let the rain stop them from drinking a beer and having fun!

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Comments (1 comments)

  • flag-es Lidia Apellido 6 months ago

    hello! I wanted to ask reccomandations on how to find a flat, thanks!

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