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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in Europe - Belgium


Where to Go - Europe (exc UK)

Click on the links below to view information on a specific country.

Austria | Belgium | Bulgaria | Croatia | Czech Republic | Denmark
Estonia | Finland | France | Georgia | Germany | Holland | Hungary
Italy | Lithuania | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Slovakia | Slovenia
Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey


Belgium

Population : 10,241,506

Literacy rate : 98%

Life expectancy at birth : male 74.47 yrs, female 81.3 yrs

Infant mortality rate : 4.76 deaths /1,000 live births

Population growth rate : 0.18%

GDP growth rate : 1.8%

GDP per capita : £16,200

Unemployment : 9%

Inflation : 1%

TI index : 6.1

Climate : temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Time : GMT +1 except from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October when GMT +2.

Electricity : 220v AC, 50Hz. Plugs are 2 pin round.

Websites :

Belgian government official site: www.belgium.be/

There is a website for most other countries for tourism, but not for the UK. Try the US directed site at: http://www.visitbelgium.com which has links to Belgian tourism sites for other countries.

Very good beer still brewed by traditional methods. Go easy with the Trappist ales - they are very strong. Good chocolates. Chips with various types of mayonnaise may be bought on the street. They are an excellent accompaniment to the wide variety of Belgian beers. This is perhaps not the best place to try dieting.

Be aware of the social distinctions between the French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish. They are inclined to make politically incorrect jokes about each other and resent the fact that the north (Flemish-speaking) is richer than the south (French-speaking). The differences are being addressed by encouraging investment in the agricultural south. German is also spoken along the eastern border region.

You could hardly do better for a good European location. There is an excellent road and rail network linking you to the rest of Europe. Finding jobs in other countries will be made much easier by this, as will weekend trips to Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

While Belgium may appear to be boring, there is a great deal of culture to be appreciated if you look for it, and the food and drink are excellent. Recent problems in the agricultural sector relating to animal feed have caused a lot of trouble and resentment amongst farmers and shopkeepers. Try to stay clear of arguments or discussions relating to these problems. The whole affair has affected economic growth, but recovery is under way.

Entry requirements

For those from outside the EU, apply to your local embassy with a letter confirming employment. EU nationals need no visa and may enter with a valid ID card, but will have to get a work permit/identity card after three months. Passport must be valid for three months after departure.

Vaccinations

Unless someone has invented one for over-indulgence in Trappist beers or chocolate; none

Tax and Insurance

There had to be a catch somewhere. This is it. Most people register as self-employed. You will have to deal with your own tax and social security payments. Expect to contribute about 30% to the Belgian economy. Do it all when you start work and save yourself a lot of trouble. Some people do try to work illegally and declare nothing. Belgian tax inspectors have no sense of humour, so be warned. Health insurance is a very good idea.

Getting Around

Click here for further information on great value bus travel with Busabout

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Belgium

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