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 where you can “Join Group” and participate in online discussions or to ask questions.
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 a solution, opinion or a recommendation for their day-to-day life.
Generally, event postings on these Facebook Groups are popular. It creates awareness of the activities happening in their neighbourhood or some other cities. People can visit new recommended places and find enjoyable things to do. Attending events is a big plus to spice up the daily mundane life.
Differences between Facebook GROUP and Facebook PAGE
Let’s go back to the basics. What is the difference between Facebook Group and Facebook Page? If you already know the difference, you may skip this section.
People who join Facebook Groups are those that have a common interest in a subject, discussing and interacting 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 permission to join to look at 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 not to post set by the group moderators. There is usually moderation on the posts before the admin allows the questions or information to go live as prevention for 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”. Select “Highlights” if you find that the Facebook Group is too active and you have been receiving too many Facebook notifications.
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 on 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 from Facebook Page. It appears together with the posts of your friends as a feed whenever there is a posting. You may or may not see it. However, if you like a particular Facebook Page and would not want to miss any of it, you can change the setting on it. On the top menu, under “Following”, select “See First”. Those Facebook Pages that you have prioritised will be displayed on the “News Feed” section before other Pages.
12 Top 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 is a lot of active interaction among the expatriates. The latest members’ update is in November 2018.
Life in Belgium is by far the largest and fastest-growing 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 upon posting.
So, it will reduce your waiting time in getting a response from the members. The topic revolves around anything in Belgium although many members come mostly from Brussels. Hence, most discussions revolve around the capital which is not a surprise. No advertisement or any sort of event posting allowed though. It will likely be deleted later.
For people living in Brussels, Expats in Brussels is a useful Facebook Group to ask questions about life in Brussels. There are not too many events posted here. So, your question would get more attention from people who in turn can give you a faster solution. On the other hand, posts that are non-related to Brussels may not be approved by the moderator. No housing advertisement allowed here.
Expats in Belgium (XiB) seems to be a more generic title for immigrants living in Belgium although the highlights of many posts are in Brussels. The group encourages the expatriates to share their experiences, reviews and recommendation of any sorts and event activities in Belgium. One can also post apartment rentals, commercial products and services. Selling ads posting on used items are not allowed as they do not want to be seen like a flea market. Public profile with a connection to Belgium ought to be visible to get approval for joining.
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 Groups. The good thing is that members of this group did not misuse the advantage and start spamming it with dull ads. Advertisements of such sort are minimal.
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 daily, not confining just to Brussels. So, you will always get a good dose of the latest activities in Flanders and Wallonie as well.
If you post something to the group, he approves pretty fast too. I would say he responds the swiftest and has the highest reliability among all Facebook Group moderators who can take days for approval to the natural death of the post. Whats Happening Belgium?, one of my favourite Belgium Facebook Groups which I check out regularly for articles too.
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.
Expats in Antwerp was the first group I joined in 2014 while studying in France. 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 expatriates who just arrived in Belgium.
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 welcomes events happening all over 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.
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 owns a pub, Apéro Afterwork which he creates an event for the expat to meet there every Wednesday. The Facebook Group has a good mix of both events and discussions among members. Housing advertisement is permitted here.
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 fabulous website if you are learning French and exposing to a few French articles here. The Facebook Group does not allow real estate ads and classified.
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 has the same entry questions. As long as the moderator does not see your Facebook location reflecting ‘Ghent’, they would send an email to verify the reason for joining. They would also reiterate that no advertisement or spamming was 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 and less active due to the restriction.
For Turkish living in Brussels or other parts of Belgium, the Turkish Expats in Belgium is the largest group on Facebook with 600 over members offering advice and regular events to the Turkish in Belgium. Due to the language used, the Turkish Group is unique because they will strictly accept only Turkish immigrants living in Belgium and also to maintain their unique identity.
I tried to break the rule to join the Turkish Expats in Leuven but ended up having a short conversation with the friendly founder, Murat Pak to find out more about the Turkish Group. Most members are PhD, Postdoc and Research Engineer working at IMEC. Turkish is the language used.
90% of the information inside the Turkish Facebook Group are on events sharing. There would be some meetups 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. According to him, there are no hard and fast rules for this group.
Although the Facebook Groups in Belgium mentioned above are for expatriates, there is quite a handful of Belgians inside the groups who can assist in answering some questions or to post their events online. Hence, with all these Facebook Groups, you have no problem staying connected in any parts of Belgium. For things to do in Belgium monthly, check out the post.