Close Join our newsletter to receive updates. Making lasting friendships is one of the keys to living a successful expat life. While Andrew was at work, surrounded by a network of co-workers, I was at home alone.
I needed to push myself well beyond my personal boundaries, in order to get out and meet people. Making friends in a new country can be a daunting task, especially for trailing-spouses and stay at home parents.
While the following examples are mostly specific to Brussels, you can apply these tips to your expat assignment anywhere in the world. Get Classy One of the fastest ways to meet people is to sign up for a class. It can also be a great tool to help you integrate into your new home country.
Brush up on your French or Dutch so you can speak with your neighbours, or take a cooking class to learn more about Belgian cuisine. The biggest benefit of taking a class is you will automatically have an interest in common with those around you. Dance your way into new friendships at a class Here are a few ideas to get you started: Learn French with classes for all levels at Alliance Francaise. Aspria Brussels is an internationally minded fitness centre offering a variety of classes and events.
Check out our article on Activities for kids and parents in Brussels for ways to meet other Moms and Dads. In addition to general meet-and-greets, there are a variety of networking events based around different themes, from food to technology. New people are always joining, so you never have to feel like the odd person out. Here are a few to try: Social networking site for expats, Internations , has an active community in Brussels and Antwerp and offers several general meet-ups a month.
In addition to the big networking events, there are also sub-groups formed around interests from sports, to food and wine. Belgium has an active technology start-up scene and you can meet many of the main players at the BetaGroup. Network with entrepreneurs and techies once a month. Go out to Eat What better way to meet people than over a home-cooked dinner. You can do exactly that, by booking a meal on Bookalokal , a service we love.
Essentially, Bookalokal pairs people who love to cook with people who want to eat. Meet new people over great food with Bookalokal There are loads of options to pick from, especially in Brussels. We have a long list of hosts we still want to try home cooked Mexican and Indian food anyone? Here are a few of the hosts we whole-heartedly recommend: Evelyne — The founder of Bookalokal and a passionate expat and foodie, Evelyne hosts everything from Belgian beer tastings to elegant dinners and casual lunches.
Maxine — Food blogger Maxine in addition to being an all around great gal is known for her hilarious Murder Mystery Dinners and her delicious desserts. Rui — What to learn all about Portuguese food from a warm and experienced expat? Rui is your man in Brussels. Show your National Pride While one of the best things about being an expat is exposing yourself to new cultures, sometimes all you want is someone who understands your obscure cultural references Raise your hand if you loved the Beachcombers.
Luckily, because of the huge international community in Belgium, just about every nation is well represented here. Most countries have social groups, and, whether or not they are actually affiliated, your embassy should be able to point you in the right direction. Nobody understands Canadian winters like my fellow Canadians photo via istock Just remember, that while it can be comforting to surround yourself with people who immediately understand you, you still need to make an effort to meet people from other backgrounds.
Otherwise, why bother leaving home? Here are some of the larger organizations operating in Brussels: