Brussels is a high paced business and cultural center representing a melting pot of cultres from Western Europe and beyond. Although the city is busy, loud and often overwhelming, don't forget that Europeans are very different than Americans in the way they live their lives.
The Belgian Royal Family's Palace.
Built for the Brussels 1958 World Fair. It represents an atom, more precisely it is built on the model of a metal crystalline molecule magnified by 165 billion times, it is 335 feet (102 meters) high and was designed by André Waterkeyn. They hold exhibitions there, and there is constantly something going on there. People can go to the various molecules of the atom and see spectacular views of Brussels.
Église Notre Dame du Sablon (Church of Our Lady of Sablon)
This is a very late Gothic church in Brussels. Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, Notre Dame du Sablon is noted for its four-fold gallery with brightly colored stained-glass windows (illuminated from the inside at night), which make a striking contrast with the gray-white Gothic arches and walls.
The Grand Place is the central market square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guild houses, the city's Town Hall and the Bread House (Maison du Roi). The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. The Grand Place was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998. One of the houses was owned by the brewers' guild, and is now the home of a brewers' museum. Jardin du Botanique: Brussels' Botanical Gardens – there are often concerts and exhibitions held in the Botanique – which is a building opposite the gardens.
Created in 1619, means little man pee in Dutch and is one of Brussel's landmarks. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. On special occasions, the statue is dressed in a costume – he has several hundred different costumes. Since 1987, the Manneken has had a female equivalent, Jeanneke Pis. The story is that of Duke Godfrey II of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen, in Ransbeke (now Neder-over-Heembeek). The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung him in a tree, to encourage them. From there, he urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.
Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudul
A chapel dedicated to St. Michael was probably built here as early as the 9th century. In the 11th century it was replaced by a Romanesque church which in 1047 became a "collegiale church". The relics of St. Gudula were transferred there and it thus became "the Collegiale church of St. Michale and St. Gudula". The building of the present church in Gothic style began with the choir in 1226. Work of art: stained glass window (16th century), confessionals (16th century), pulpit (17th century), carillon (1975). A thorough restoration of the cathedral was carried out between 1983 and November 1999. Remains of a Romanesque church were discovered, as well as a Romanesque crypt under the choir.
Brussels has endless activities for international visitors to enjoy. Listed below are some different cultural activities to do while in Brussels. You can do many of these activities on your own, with friends, or they may be sponsored by ISA. Upon arrival to Brussels, different sponsored cultural activities will be announced throughout your program abroad.
The first Tuesday and Thursday in July holds this festival where more than 2,000 participants parade through the Grand Place as Renaissance nobles, guildsmen, soldiers and entertainers.
Plantation de Meiboom
With honors for Saint Laurent, dressed in strange and colorful costumes and accompanied by seven traditional giant figures, the people of Brussels parade around central Brussels with a may tree. They then plant it at the corner of the Rue du Marais and Rue des Sables.
Fete de Saint-Nicolas
The feast of Saint Nicholas (Dec. 6th) is the holiday children look most forward to all year 'round. Saint Nicholas, (original Santa Claus) parades around the streets with his back-up assistant, Zwarte Piet, delivering presents and sweets to the children.
Mardi Gras, Binche
In Binche, the "Gille"is allowed to wear his Gille costume on Mardi Gras only. Tradition also forbids them to make a performance outside Binche. In the afternoon, during the parade, the "Gille" wears his impressive hat covered in ostrich feathers and offers the public hundreds of oranges.
Throughout December there are Christmas markets all over the center of the city of Brussels both in and just outside of the Grand Place. It's a festive time where you can find excellent food and drinks as well as beautiful hand made crafts.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Belgium and although they are a small country, they have excellent teams that compete in the European leagues. Anderlecht is the most commonly routed for team in the area and they play all year round. Feel free to check out the Anderlecht website.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Musical Instruments
Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
Comic Strip Museum
Auto world Museum
Belgians have beautiful gardens, partly due to the fact that it rains so often. You will rarely find a greener place. During the spring time, the royal family opens up their royal greenhouse and gardens to the public and you will find incredible botany to see and smell.
Every other year the Belgians design a "carpet of flowers" that's as large as the Grande Place and place it for all of the public to see. It's a truly unique site that can't be found anywhere else!
Students will be given the opportunity to be in class with local and international students. There may be opportunities to arrange meetings with local students to share their knowledge of French or Dutch and learn English in exchange. This activity, based on student interest, is a great way to get to know other students of Brussels, and share your culture and language with others while learning more about your surroundings and student counterparts!
Classmates Connecting Cultures (CCC)Stay connected while you're abroad and share your experience with an organization back home! This program is for ISA students that are interested in applying what they are learning in Brussels in an interactive and creative way. Students collaborate with a U.S.-based organization via blog entries in a structured program facilitated by ISA. Organization types can range from classrooms (elementary through undergraduate) to local businesses, non-profit organizations, your study abroad office, student interest groups and more! Check out what past students have written by visiting theClassmates Connecting Cultures blog. For more information email email@example.com.
Share your experience with your friends and prospective ISA students through the ISA blog! Your blogs will be featured on the ISA website for all to see. To learn more about the ISA Blogs, please visit the ISA Blog page.
Cultural Blogs:We also suggest you check out the plethora of other cultural blogs available on the web to learn more about others' experiences in Brussels, cultural happenings, and expat lives.
There are three official languages in Belgium; French, Dutch and German. Although Brussels is located in the north of the country and surrounded by Dutch communities, French can often be more prevalent.
Helpful Phrases in French
Bonjour Hello/Good morning
Bonsoir Good evening
Au revoir GoodbyeComment ça va? How's it going?
Comment allez-vous? How are you? (Formal)
Comment vous-appelez vous? What is your name? (Formal)
Comment tu t'appelles? What is your name? (Informal)
Où se trouve le/la...? Where is the...?
Je ne comprends pas. I don't understand.
Parlez-vous anglais? Do you speak English?
Je ne parle pas français. I don't speak French
Je voudrais... I would like...
Excusez-moi. Excuse me.
Helpful Phrases in Dutch
Goede dag Hello
Goedenavond Good evening
Afscheid Goodbye Hoe gaat het? How are you?Wat is uw naam? What is your name? Waar is de...? Where is the...? Ik begrijp het niet I don't understand.
Spreek je Engels? Do you speak English?
Ik spreek geen Nederlands I don't speak Dutch Ik zou graag... I would like...
Neem me niet kwalijk Excuse me.
On-line Dictionary Resource
We suggest you look up some helpful websites dedicated to verb conjugations in French or Dutch.
Beware of translation websites...much can be LOST in translation!