Welcome to Belgium, a small, multicultural country nestled in the heart of Western Europe.
Belgium is made up of three distinct regions, each with its own language and culture. Its capital city, Brussels, is the host for both NATO and the European Union, giving this country of only eleven million people (and covering about the same area as Maryland) a special spot in the international spotlight.
Belgium is recognized for its historical artistry and innovation, today manifesting in its world-famous chocolate and lace making. Flemish, Dutch, French and German are all spoken in Belgium, and it is common for people to learn and speak English.
Belgium is a constitutional monarchy with both a monarch and prime minister. Its official currency is the Euro, adopted in 2002.
Belgian families tend to have one or two children, and it is common for both parents to work outside the home. Teenagers are used to being relatively independent, using public transport to get themselves around.
75% of Belgium is Roman Catholic, though weekly church attendance is low. However, religious traditions and celebrations are still an important part of Belgian culture and life.
Belgian cuisine includes hundreds of delicious dishes, most often including meat or seafood. They claim to have invented frites, meaning we should really say “Belgian Fries” instead of French. Desserts, pastries, and – of course – waffles abound.
Education is considered of the utmost importance in Belgium. Students are required to attend school until the age of 18.
Belgian high schools maintain a high degree of discipline, and teachers are well respected. They do not offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, as found in American high school.
About half of Belgian teens go on to university.
Belgian teenagers enjoy many of the same activities as American teens.The most popular sport is soccer, but basketball, volleyball, swimming, track, and bicycling are all popular.
Like most American teens, Belgian high schoolers dress casually, wearing jeans with sweaters, sweatshirts, or T-shirts.
Teens generally begin to date when they are 14 or 15. Dating customs in Belgium are similar to the U.S.