By Matt Gulizia, ISA Brussels Sr. Site Specialist
Brussels is an eclectic and cosmopolitan European capital city which offers something for every area of interest imaginable. With the recent program price reductions for all 2017 ISA Brussels programs, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the city’s best features. The ISA Discovery Model allows students to get to know their host city on a much deeper level than if they were simply visiting as a tourist, and the following are some “bucket list” experiences not to be missed based on the five primary areas of discovery:
- Sip on a coffee at Café Belga in Place Flagey. The area is a melting pot of cultures and is a prime destination for locals to meet for breakfast, lunch, coffee or an aperitif before dinner.
- Perouse Le Sablon, Brussels’ antique shopping area. Live like a local by viewing the wares, stopping by some of the surrounding eateries and sampling authentic Belgian chocolates throughout the neighborhood.
- Spend some time perusing the Belgian Comic Strip Museum to uncover Brussels’ long-time love affair with comics.
- Discover the hidden city below Brussels! Brussels was built on top of an underground city centuries ago, and you can view some of the excavated ruins right around the Bourse (the city’s old stock exchange building).
- The EU is headquartered in Brussels, so a tour of the European Parliament is a great way to learn of its significance. Attendees can even attend a parliamentary sitting if the session dates align.
- Take a tour of the Palais de Justice, an enormous building erected by King Leopold II from 1866-1883 to underscore the importance of law and justice in the independent state.
- Volunteer as part of Serve the City, an organization in Brussels that helps individuals find volunteering opportunities. ISA facilitates volunteering activities for students, which can include helping the homeless, asylum seekers, the elderly, the disabled, children in need, victims of abuse, etc.
- Assert yourself in some of the fantastic networking events/outlets offered by the city. Sites such as Internations.org (general meet-ups for expats on various interests), betagroup.be (technology) and meetup.com (general by location and theme) offer extensive ways to network with professionals in the community.
- Spend some leisure time in the Royal Park in the city center. It’s the perfect place for people watching, taking in festivals and simply enjoying the great outdoors.
- Explore the Royal Greenhouses, with a wide diversity of exotic plants encased in a gorgeous glass and steel structure.