What is special or unique about your city?
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Are these impressions likely to change?
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Brussels, capital of the kingdom of Belgium is also the ‘capital’ of Europe. Like Europe in miniature, is one way to think of it. A very cosmopolitan city, Brussels welcomes people from all over the continent - some who stay, others who simply come here for meetings. But all who come find it a very welcoming city. Perhaps that’s because it retains its ‘village’ districts, despite its importance as an international center. The contrasting districts of the city provide for different experiences for the visitor and those who live here. There are definitely places where ex-pats gather, but with such variety in its neighborhoods it’s worth exploring the different architecture and the spirit of its places.
The city’s international role means you’ll hear a dozen different languages on any street corner. French and Flemish are the official languages, although the majority of inhabitants of the city speak French. English speakers are unlikely to find life difficult, as it is widely spoken as a second language, but it’s sure to help you get to know people if you learn some French.
Although it’s an international city, Brussels doesn’t feel quite as busy as some other European capitals, which can make for a more relaxed lifestyle. Its climate is similarly temperate. Warm but not hot summers, cool but not cold winters, are the usual pattern, making Brussels a city that is pleasant to be in, and to walk around in. And while you’re walking, you’ll constantly encounter the city’s great quality: dining. The food scene here is as eclectic as the population or the architecture. It makes living a real pleasure.
Due to its central location in Western Europe, it’s easy to reach and a perfect starting point for exploring Europe. People of over 150 nationalities call Brussels home, making it a vibrant, multicultural and cosmopolitan city. Brussels is also an ideal place to explore the rich cultural history of Belgium and Europe and try out the Belgian cuisine, of which fries, chocolate and beer are just a couple of examples.
Although Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the EU, it isn’t quite as busy as some of the larger European cities. Due to its many international inhabitants, Brussels has a multicultural vibe. Most people also find the atmosphere to be pleasant and hospitable.
Under normal circumstances, it is unlikely that a newcomer’s impression will change considerably.
Brussels has two official languages: Flemish and French. French is spoken by the majority of Brussels inhabitants. Fewer people speak Flemish. Due to immigration and Brussels’ international role, other languages have become more widely used.
English speakers shouldn’t have many problems, as English is widely spoken. Knowing one of the local languages will make arranging official paperwork easier.
For some people, the language in which you address them can be an issue. It is preferable to address someone in his or her native language, but English is spoken widely and shouldn’t pose a problem.
Belgium has a mild climate, with warm (but not hot) summers and cool (but not cold) winters.
The average temperature during winter is between 0 to 6 degrees Celsius (32 - 43 degrees Fahrenheit) and during summer the average temperature ranges between 13 to 21 degrees Celsius (55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). The impact of the local weather on daily life is therefore minimal.
The Brussels-Capital Region is made up of 19 municipalities or communes, including the city Brussels. These communes are either autonomous or semi-autonomous and have their own mayor, town hall and council. Each commune has its own police force and social services.
Website of the City of Brussels www.brussel.be
Website of the Brussels-Capital Region www.brussel.irisnet.be
Official website for tourist information www.visitbrussels.be
Website for expats, which includes a magazine for the international community in Brussels. www.xpats.com
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