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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Integration: Facebook Groups in Belgium – Where Belgians, Expats and Events Meet

Integration: Facebook Groups and Pages in Belgium – Where Belgians, Expats and Events Meet Online

Whether you are a newcomer in Belgium, a foreigner who has been living here for a quite some time, a Belgian or just someone who is not living here but interested in Belgian culture, here are some Facebook Groups and Pages where you can “Join Group” and take part.

There are many Facebook Groups in Belgium out there. Therefore, I am not going to list out all. The emphasis is for newcomers and expats living in Belgium regarding questions about integration, life in Belgium and seeking for a solution, opinion or a recommendation for their day-to-day life.

Normally, posting of events on these Facebook Group is very popular. It allows people to be aware of the activities happening in their neighbourhood or even some other cities so that they can visit the place or find interesting things to do. Attending events form a vital part to spice up the mundane life.

Differences between Facebook Group and Page

Let’s go back to the basic. What is the difference between Facebook Group and Facebook Page? If you already know the difference, you may skip this section.

Facebook Group

People who join Facebook Groups are those that have a common interest in that subject. It is also a place for discussion and interaction among members. The moderator can set the privacy level of the Facebook Group to ‘open’, ‘close’ or ‘secret’. If the setting is not open’, members have to request for permission to join so as to view the group posts or to start a discussion.

Facebook Groups usually have their set of rules on the type of things to post and what is not. There is usually moderation on the posts before the admin allows the questions or information to go live to prevent spams and unwanted advertisement.

Notification: Whenever someone starts a discussion, you will receive a notification immediately. You can change the notification setting to “Off”, Friends’ Posts” or “Highlights” if you find that the Facebook Group is too active and you have been receiving too many Facebook notification.

Facebook Page

A Facebook Page is a platform to receive information on your Facebook Page whenever you ‘like’ a Facebook Page. It is a company or any individual to advertise, promote or to create awareness of their products.

It is not a place for you to start a discussion usually. Well, you can still post a question in Facebook Page, but the display of your question is not on the main thread. Visitors’ posting is usually at a small corner in the sidebar which is not highly visible especially on mobile view.

Notification: You will not receive a notification typically whenever there is a posting on the Facebook Page. However, if you like a particular page and would not want to miss any of your favourite posts, you can change the setting in the Facebook Page. On the top menu, under “Following”, select “See First”. Those Facebook Pages that you want to see first will be displayed first on your “News Feed” before other Pages.

10 Facebook Groups in Belgium

Here are some of the top Facebook Groups in Belgium that I have scooped out from Facebook which has a significant number of members. That is also one of the reasons why there are a lot of active interaction among these expats.

Life in Belgium (14,300 members)

Life in Belgium is by far the largest discussion group found online based on the number of members it has. The most distinct feature about this Facebook Group is that it has no moderation unless someone spams or breaks their house rule. Your post will go live immediately.

So, it will reduce your waiting time in getting a response from the members. The topic revolves anything in Belgium although many members come mostly from Brussels. Hence, most discussions revolve around the capital which is not a surprise. No advertisement allowed though.

Pangaea – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (12,500 members)

Leuven is a student city in Belgium. The Pangaea – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Face Group is for former, present and future Pangaea members to share information and to ask questions. The setting of this Facebook Group focuses on KU University, internship and life of a student. But that is not all about it. You can also find housing advertisements, workshops, activities in Leuven and also some other cities.

Brussels Connected (10,100 members)

Brussels Connected aims to connect people in Brussels and over Belgium through their page. It encourages people to help one another by giving input to questions. The Facebook Group does not emphasise strictly on events happening in Brussels but also welcome events happening all around Belgium. Advertising such as selling of items, rental of houses and services are allowed but do not overdo it. Overall, you get a good mix of everything since the rules are reasonable and not that strict.

Expats in Brussels (10,000 members)

For people living in Brussels, Expats in Brussels is a useful Facebook Group to ask questions revolving life in Brussels. There are not too many events posted here. So, your question would get more attention from people who can give you a solution. On the other hand, posts that are non-related to Brussels may not be approved by the moderator. No housing advertisement allowed here.

Whats Happening Belgium? (9,500 members)

Whats Happening Belgium? The moderator, Mike Chamber is an open-minded man. He allows members to post anything they want. Subjects include advertisements and sales of goods which are usually not welcomed in other Facebook Group. The good thing is that members of this group did not misuse the function.

The only requirement is that all links and information have to be relevant to life in Belgium. Mike Chamber is very active in posting a lot of events happening in Belgium regularly. So, you will always get a good dose of the happening in Belgium. If you post something to the group, he approves pretty fast too.

Expats in Antwerp (7,000 members)

Expats in Antwerp was the first group I joined three years ago. I was not living in Belgium then. At that time, the Facebook Group had only 1,000+ members. What remains unchanged until today is the spontaneity of the members responding to questions. The Group does not allow spamming, recruiting, propaganda and politics.

The moderation policy is rather strict. They may not publish the post not related to Antwerp. It also has to depend on which moderator is looking at your post. The moderator, Maroun Kay and his team hold a monthly meet-up session at one of the bars in Antwerp. It is a wonderful way to meet other expats.

Brussels Expat (6,600 members)

The Facebook Group Brussels Expat is an extension for its members on the Facebook Page Brussels Expats. The founder of both sites is Jil Kesh. He also owns a pub, Apéro Afterwork which he creates an event for expats to meet there every Wednesday. The Facebook Group has a good mix of both events and discussions among members. Housing advertisement is permitted here.

Interactive Expats Brussels (6,500 members)

About 90% of the posts on Interactive Expats Brussels are Events in Brussels. You can always find something to do in Brussels and be on the move to somewhere else. You get the information mostly in the English language. Sometimes the postings are in French. A great site if you are starting to learn French. The Facebook Group does not allow real estate ads and classified.

Expats in Gent, Belgium (2,800 members)

There are two Expats Groups in Ghent which I have found. Expats in Gent, Belgium is the bigger group among the two. I think the same team of people operate both groups because the screening process for new members is strict and the question posed was the same. As long as the moderator did not see the address reflecting that of Ghent, they would send an email to verify the reason for joining. They would also reiterate that no advertisement or spamming is allowed.

I understand the intention is to filter out potential spammers. However, the strict rule also means that fewer events would be posted as it might be considered a form of advertisement as well and get deleted off in the screening process. Expect the activities and related conversation to confine within Ghent city.

Turkish Expats in Belgium (400 members)

This Turkish Group is unique because they will strictly accept only Turkish expats living in Leuven and also to maintain their identity. I tried to break the rule but ended up having a short conversation to find out more about the Turkish Group with the friendly founder, Murat Pak. Anyway, most of them are PhD, Postdoc and Research Engineer working at IMEC. The language used is Turkish.

90% of the information inside the Turkish Facebook Group are on events sharing. There would be some meet up every week ranging from 10 to 20 people. The event venue is usually in a bar drinking and chatting. Members are free to post an event, advertisement or ask a question. There are no hard and fast rules for this group.

Conclusion

Although the Facebook Groups in Belgium mentioned above are for expats, there is quite a handful of Belgians inside the groups who can assist in some questions or to post their events online. Hence, with all these Facebook Groups, you would have no problem staying connected in Belgium For things to do in Belgium monthly, check out the post.


About Live in Belgium

Hello, my name is MissSJ. I am a Singaporean. I am living with my Belgian partner since July 2016 in a cosmopolitan city, Antwerp. However, I had been travelling to and fro Belgium since 2011 as a tourist. The creation of this blog is to document my new journey in Belgium which I would like to call 'home'. Join me in discovering the fascinating Belgium from the eyes of an expat.

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