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Matilda Talvio

on 14 August 2016

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Belgium Basics
Health and Safety
Resident Staff
ISA Excursions
What are the dangers?
Alcohol and Drugs
Public Transportation
Matilda "Ma" Talvio
From Helsinki, Finland
Has lived in Brussels for 12 years in the last 18, as well as USA
Living in Brussels (this time) since Christmas 2006
Background in translation and editing
Likes culture, cats, travel, food, bad puns...

Doesn't like meanness, bad bureaucracy, being cold, spiders.




Brussels-Capital Region
Please have your mail sent directly to the ISA office following the below template:
Coffee and Tea
Some desks and two computers with access to Internet are at your disposal at the office.
You can also bring your personal laptop and connect it to the WIFI.

This is to ensure you receive it correctly. Please ask the sender to mark the package as personal items of no value to avoid high import taxes
The office also has a relaxing lounge area for you to take a break in, with a DVD player and a small library of books and movies. You're welcome to use it any time during office hours to relax between classes or hang out!
And of course you'll have to get
acquainted with our lovely courtyard!
Your name - C/O ISA Brussels
Rue de la Cuve 20
1050 Brussels
There are coffee and tea making facilities at your disposal - do drop by any time
for a coffee and a chat!
Excursions Summer 2016
Trilingual country:
Dutch ~60%
French ~40%
(also German - 1%)
Historical buildings
Thousands of cafes and restaurants
Sauce Samuraï!
Where are we?
Brussels City
Flemish Brussels
French Brussels
In the of Europe
MOBIB is an electronic transport ticket.
It works on all the lines of the STIB network.
You can top up your card at all STIB sales points, and at the "GO" machines that are found at all metro stops and major bus and tram stops. The machines only take coins or chip-and-pin cards, not swipe cards. The sales points accept swipe cards too.
Remember to validate your ticket
you get on public transport,
even when changing lines
Otherwise you may get a hefty fine.
In case of
Contact one of us immediately on our cell phones:

Matilda: 0491 22 55 72
Inés: 0473 87 82 86
Tips to keep your belongings safe
Use a cross-body purse and keep it in front of you in public places.
Don't hang them on one shoulder, never leave on the floor or the back of a chair.
Keep it in front of you in public places, specially public transport.
Do not keep your address in the same place as your keys.
Do not carry your passport with you; a copy is sufficient.
Consider leaving your smartphone at home when you go out.
Don't keep it in your hand or otherwise visible in crowded places or public transport!
Don't keep all your cards and cash in your wallet.
Only go out with what your really need that day.
Keep emergency cash in a separate place.
Don’t walk home alone at night
Blend in by looking like local people
Carry yourself assertively and in a way that protects you and your belongings.
Even if you get lost, try not to show it. Better to go into a shop to look at your map, or ask the clerk.
Getting unwanted attention or being harassed is never your fault, but it's good to keep some guidelines in mind to protect yourself.
Unwanted attention
To avoid these kinds of situations
What if it happens anyway?
If you do experience unwanted attention or harassment in public places, do not engage the person in conversation - this can be difficult to get
out of. Just pretend you don't understand and try to walk away.
If you feel threatened, make it clear that someone (your father, boyfriend, friend) is expecting you close by. If you feel genuinely threatened or scared, call the police on:
Alcohol & Drugs
Keep in mind that ISA has strict policies about drugs & alcohol
A note on drugs
Cannabis is
in Belgium, and ISA has a zero tolerance policy on drugs. You may be judged more harshly than local students if caught using drugs in Belgium.
Drinking is not allowed on ISA excursions or ISA-sponsored events.
Turning up to a meeting point after drinking may be grounds for dismissal.
Drinking culture
Belgians appreciate good beer, but be CAREFUL. The beer in Belgium is generally
than the beer in the US!

Drinking excessively while abroad may put you in danger. It can also create a bad stereotype about Americans. Drink responsibly !
"Une bière brassée avec savoir, se déguste
avec sagesse!"
Be aware of where you are and what is going on around you at all times! Being drunk in public may make you vulnerable to theft or violence.

Use your common sense!
Be aware, stay safe!
Don't be this guy!!
Some faces you should know
+ 11 Million
(between Georgia and Ohio)
1 million inhabitants
19 municipalities known as Communes
Brussels in Numbers
2 official languages
40% of non-Belgian inhabitants
+100 languages spoken
1034-year-old city
33 inches of rainfall per year
One journey: 2.50 € (on bus)
10 journeys: 14 €
24 hours: 7.50 €
48 hours: 14 €
72 hours: 18 €
Month pass: 49 €

Airport line: 6€ (on bus)
4 Metro lines (1,2,5,6)
2 underground tram lines (3,4)
Brussels has an efficient transportation network made up of:
The 71 bus is famous: it has inspired books and songs with its quirky passengers and "creative" timekeeping. But the Bruxellois love it. It takes you from Ixelles to the city center.
Real family life

Practice languages

Home cooking

Help and tips

Must adapt to house rules! Don't be afraid to voice your concerns


Eat what you please

Discover by yourself

Your housing: be smart about it!
Turn off your lights and appliances when out of your room!
11,787 sq mi
ISA Activities
Neighborhood walks
EU Parlamentarium
Brussels Vintage Market
And many
VeCo bus tour
January 17th
meeting point at
at 9.45am!
Keep your room tidy!
Don't keep food items in your room!
Keys: very expensive to replace! Please take good care of them.
Don't keep your address in the same place as your keys!
Water and heating are VERY expensive - no marathon showers
Homestays: meals
: every day before 10.30am
Typically bread, pastries, jam, coffee and tea, cereal
: Not provided by homestay! Please ask first if you want to use the kitchen.
: 5 times per week between 7.30pm & 9pm.
Please conform to the family's habits and remember to inform them in advance if you can't make it to dinner. A great opportunity to practice your French and to get used to local customs!
Remember to clean up after yourself when you've used the kitchen!
In Belgium, the waste sorting is COMPULSORY:

YELLOW BAGS : cardboard, paper

BLUE BAGS : plastic bottles, cans, metal packaging, drinks cartons…

WHITE BAGS : general trash, household waste

GLASS containers : glass bottles, jars, flasks…
Waste management

Comply with your housing rules.

Local calls are not free.

According to the provider, some international calls MIGHT be free. Check first!

You may receive calls on the main land line. Always ask permission first!

Do not stay too long!

Make sure your US family understands time difference before calling from the States.

Be respectful of the hours the host family keeps.

Always ask permission first!
Living together

Do not make any noise if you come back late

Take off your heels on wooden floors

Tell your family if you are late, if you stay overnight with a friend or if you leave for travelling

Avoid watching TV or Skyping too loudly. Be aware that skyping after 10pm can be problematic for your roommate or family.

Do not take a shower or use the kitchen when coming home late if you are in a host family

Be respectful of others

Do not invite friends without asking the others first Guests must respect the house rules and hours.
It may be difficult to get used to living in a new setting.

Be as flexible, open minded and understanding as you can in adjusting to differences and new ways of life.

The key to avoiding conflicts is

and mutual respect

The experience of learning a new culture should be both educational and rewarding!

REMEMBER : Feel free to come to us any time during your stay, if you’d like advice or if you would like us to clarify things with your family! We’re here for you!

Belgian housing
Humidity - air out your apartment at least 15 minutes a day to avoid mold!
Old buildings have old plumbing and electrical installments - be careful not to clog the pipes or overload the circuits
Heating works on a timer: best to keep the radiators on medium, they will kick in regularly through the day
Internet is not as fast and reliable as in the US!! Downloading is not allowed!
Iria : Our superwoman!
She will come clean your apartment once every week.

She used to host foreign students from VeCo too!

Loves cooking, laughing, sharing experience and advice & meeting the new students!

Trilingual : Flemish native speaker, speaks French and English!

Please tidy your apartment before each cleaning day: she will NOT do your dishes or pick up your clothes!

Cleaning service
Housing contract
By signing your housing contract with ISA, you have committed to the following rules:
Calendar of excursions
Bruges: Sunday 22nd May
Holland: Sat 11th to Sun 12th June
Ghent: Saturday 25th June
Wallonia: Sunday 26th June
Respect your neighbors: keep it down (especially after 10pm)
No drinking in the apartments
No parties - please be careful who you invite to your apartment: things can easily get out of hand!
NO smoking inside the apartments
No overnight guests of the opposite gender allowed.

Same gender overnight guests are allowed in ISA apartments one person at a time. Guests are not permitted for more than two consecutive days without ISA’s written consent, and are also subject to the approval of your fellow roommates.

Please respect your roommate(s) privacy and comfort!

Laundromats are very common in Brussels. Please check the personalized map in your welcome pack to see the location of the closest one to your apartment!

Top Tip: There is a “quality wash” laundromat right on the street of the ISA office - you can pop in for a coffee and a chat while your laundry is turning!

Bring coins and your own detergent.

Average round of laundry will cost you around 4€

10 min dryer is about 2€
Volunteering in Brussels
Volunteering has been shown to bring significant added value to the study abroad experiences
ISA Global Community Service Day
Volunteering events depending on your engagement

Who we serve
Homeless people, asylum seekers, elderly, disabled, children in need, victims of abuse... We are also happy to take suggestions!

How we serve
The projects generally fall into the following categories: sports, arts, meals, beauty, social and practical.

ISA Language Tutoring
If you would like to have tutoring in French or in Dutch, please email us at brussels-isa@studiesabroad.com !
Make an effort
to have European friends. I
found that it was easy to cling onto other ISA students because as Americans we had so much in common. However I think it is important to remember that we’re in Europe to learn about European culture and there’s no better way to do that than surround yourself with Europeans.
Try and
bring an umbrella with you everywhere (the weather can be quite unpredictable)
There are great movie
theaters (with student rates!)
that have films in English.
A good one downtown is
UGC De Brouckere!
Eating out in Belgium can be
very expensive (at least in my opinion)
but if you want to get something
on the go, the sandwiches are cheap
(usually less than 5 euros)
and delicious!
Try to find unique
opportunities in the areas
where you are most interested.
Don't just see a city in a day and do
the stereotypical. Go to a club,
church service, conference, history tour.
Discover what you find fascinating
and go for it.
Just do it.
I encourage you to
go on the ISA trips and activities,
they are really well-organized and you get to
see other aspects of Belgian culture.
Resident staff all over the world
Inés Debén Bravo
From La Coruña, Spain
Has also lived in the UK, Paris and Cyprus
Grew up in Brussels
Studied development and international relations
Likes illustration, music, travel and all things creative
Doesn't like slow walkers who block the sidewalk and poke with their umbrellas
We are all part of a

Language Corner
Some useful phrases
Bonjour / Hallo = Hello
Bonsoir / Goedenavond = Good evening
Aurevoir / Tot Ziens = Good bye
Salut / Dag = Bye!
S'il vous plaît / Alstublieft = Please
Merci / Dank u wel = Thank you
ISA Office
Lounge area
Belgian Food Tasting
Alumni tips
The Bridging Cultures Program (BCP)

* Ease cultural transition
* Learning & discovering
* Encourage engagement & participation
* Prepare for time abroad
* Establish connections & build network
Diversity, Discrimination & Stereotypes
* Challenges abroad

* Stereotypes about foreigners & people from the US / Anti-americanism

* Reflect on your identity & culture

* Coping strategies & understanding - come talk to us!
5 areas of discovery
* Festivals & events
* Cultural activities
* Museums & other cultural activities
* Field trips (abbeys, citadelles, etc.)
* Local & EU news
* VeCo guest speakers
* Internships
* Volunteering
* Field trips

* Culture Shock

* Intercultural Development
All these numbers & more are on your
Keep it on you at all times!
Full transcript