New to Eastern Belgium

Selected info from this website: For all those that want to live or work in the German-speaking community in Eastern Belgium, a region with own ministries and a prime ministre.

Villages behind green hecks and the mini-metropolia of Eupen are German-speaking – but feature a Belgian everyday life and savoir-vivre. This area attracts a lot of Cross-border commuters from nearby Aachen (in the north, Luxemburg in the south).
This particular area with large autonomies is home to Belgian´s largest mountain and a good spot for skiing fans in winter.

On this side, we collected infos in how to understand, what to do, and where to find support and social contacts in Eastern Belgium.

Video-welcome to Eastern Belgium (DE only)

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East Belgium was part of Dutch, German and “Neutral-Moresnetian” statehood. Part of Belgium since 1918, it gained large cultural autonomy when the strong federal subjects Flanders and Wallonia replaced a unitary state. German is one of three official languages in the country and the major language of education in this area. Still, East Belgium is part of the Frenchspeaking Wallonia and quite closely related to the city and province of Liège.

Savoir-vivre in German

Divided by the high moor of Hohes Venn, big city people from Eupen (19.000 inhabitants) do not feel to share the same lifestyle of those up in the woods. From the outside, however, East Belgium certainly shares an interesting mixture of both germanophone and francophone influences.

The Germanspeaking Community of Belgium and Aachen historically share the same language and dialects.

German-speaking Belgians tend to be multilingual – with education in German, French and Dutch. This area actually hosted the first ever Esperanto-speaking territory (Neutral-Moresnet, existing from 1816-1919, around Kelmis/La Calamine).

How many Belgiums?

Belgium has a very particular present – it is one of the states that gives large autonmy to its (language) communities, and the Walloon, Brussels and
Flemish region // the French, Flemish and even German-speaking communities are
very present in daily life.

Eastern Belgian governance explained (DE & FR):

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Commonalities

Despite all federalisation reforms, a common Belgian framework still exists
this framework exists. Especially for exploring your Euregio, note how much is
shared in Belgium:

  • The railway system to criss-cross the country with one tarif (cf. public transport)
  • A common visa- and immigration policy (cf. getting a visa)
  • One royal family (with family members famous for all language communities)
  • A common past in breaking free from Spanish and Dutch foreign rulers
  • A common past in foreign ruling on large territories in Africa with consequences up
    until today
  • Catholicism has shaped all parts of the country and remains the predominant
    denomination
  • A common system for taxes and social security – very important info for
    cross-border commuters (cf. social security & cross-border commuting)
  • The German-speaking community is the youngest part of Belgium and joined as late as 1918. Still, the inhabitants are sometimes called the most true Belgians.

Belgians share a lot of other aspects of life, the most visible of which are
the fine cuisine and beer, but also: Football (with the “red devils”) as
beloved and currently quite succesfull team.

Waterfall on the way to Hohes Venn, about five kilometres from Eupen. From: Myriam's fotos on pixabay.

Eastern Belgium's cities and places

Eupen is one of Europe’s smallest capital – featuring an ownparliament, prime minister – and the seat of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. Heart to the German-speaking community in Belgium, you will find a mixture of German and French influences
in a picturesque town with a direct ICE connection to Brussels and the Belgian
seaside for only €8,60 with a Go Pass. Find more in our public
transport
 section.

The high moor of Hohes Venn / Hautes Fagnes brings wilderness and wideness to the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. About 600m high and with strong snowfalls, Hohes Venn offers a large infrastructure for skiing.

Neutral-Moresnet was part of Prussia and the Netherlands
and Belgium – all at the same time. This tiny, self governing triangle close to
Drielandenpunt had quite some geopolitical importance and chose Esperanto as
its official language. Still featuring a unique dialect between German, French
and Flemish, Moresnet and Kelmis can be reached by bus from Aachen and the
ticket is charged at a normal city fare.

Find our dedicated section for more cities and places across the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, from a newcomer’s perspective.

Documentary on the east of Belgium (DE only)

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Finding buddies and a network in Eastern Belgium

When living around Eupen,  nearby Liège or Aachen offer additional possibilities, they are all listed in the sections on this website (section networking & budddying). For Eastern Belgium, here are some first hints:

  • You might find (volunteering) activities and relevant organisations via Ehrenamtsbörse Ostbelgien
  • Some church-supported initiatives are active with the integration of refugees or other, non-German speaking newcomers, such as Ephata (Eupen) with language café
  • Jugendbüro Eupen (youth office) is a good entrance point for asking for further options
  • For further research, note that there is a small University of Applied Sciences that consults for Erasmus-programmes
  • You might find (volunteering) activities and relevant organisations via Ehrenamtsbörse Ostbelgien
  • Some church-supported initiatives are active with the integration of refugees or other, non-German speaking newcomers, such as Ephata (Eupen) with language café

Sports in East Belgium

Surprise: With KAS Eupen, you have a team from Belgians first national league. To go beyond mere watching, find the comprehensive map “cartosport” , with all kinds of sports for both the French- and German-speaking parts of the Province of Liège.

Volunteering

Find necessary backround on formalities and insurances for volunteering in Eastern Belgium (information DE only).

At the database “Ehrenamtsbörse“, you can find multiple voluntary activities (information DE only).

Collections like “Branchenindex” might help you find possible services and organisations (information DE only).

Public transport to three countries and a coast

Staring in Eupen or Welkenraedt, you have a direct connection to the sea with the comfortable IC-train. When making use of the various rail passes (Standard multi or go-pass) the single journey will not cost you more than 8,60€.

Kelmis – Aachen

If you live in Kelmis/La Calamine, Line 24 to Aachen can be used with a regular AVV subscription for the city of Aachen (Preisstufe 1C)

Eupen – Kelmis – Vaals

This bus crosses the German-speaking community, Gemmenich village in Wallonia, and Vaals in the Netherlands, right next to Aachen.

Eupen – Aachen

You can choose to go by train (Eupen – Welkenraedt, Welkenraedt – Aachen) or, much faster, by bus. The die of about 40 minutes costs about 6,40€. It can be convenient to combine Tickets for Wallonia and Aachen if you travel regularly.

Criss-crossing Wallonia

TEC covers the French- and Germanspeaking part of Belgium, except for Brussels. In your Region, this is the wider Area around Eupen, Kelmis and Liège. Check for abonnements and options that can offer you cheap mobility in an area much
larger than you expected. The Buzzy/Omnipass is valid in all of Flanders, “Horizon” or “Horizon+” covers the whole of Wallonia for less than 40€. Also combi-tickets between train and busses are possible. Check for more info in the section on the (francophone) Province of Liège.

Find many more connections on the website on public tranpsort in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine

Learning German / Deutsch / Duits / Allemand

Beginners: Yes, German is among the harder languages. However when just
starting out, grammar is not crucial. German also shares a lot of vocabulary
with English – you can easily compare vocabulary by checking out the German
version of our website.

Advanced: Don´t worry about making mistakes, and don’t get too caught up on
articles. If you still have a hard time with native speakers, Dutch or Belgian
neighbours from just about the border can relate to your struggles. Many people
speak quite fluent German, althouhg less among the younger generation.

More fluent German in 2 minutes

As the name says, the German-speaking community is – well, German-speaking. You can count on a lot of multilingual understanding in French, Flemish, and English, but here is some tips to help you through the conversation in the region’s official language:

Authentic pronounciation

If learning words takes to long, you can improve your pronunciation.
Whenever a word ends on “-er”, do not pronounce it as “-er”. Just give it an
„-a:“, a kind of glottal stop. This will make your German sound much more
natural.

Internationalims, improvising German

If you do want to invest only little in learning German expressions, go
freestyle. Hopefully, your expression is in accordance with the many Germanic routes of English

  • Exchanging
    an „s“ for a „t“ helps improvise many German words (Wasser, besser)
  • Exchanging
    an „f“ for a „p“ (Apfel, hoffen (to hope))
  • Note the
    many similarities: Great – Groß; State – Staat; Room – Raum and endless
    more

Extra tip: Employ empty filling words

As a first aid-kit, buy yourself some time with empty filling words. These
terms will buy you time for building complicated grammatical structures.

  • Also
  • naja
  • mmh
  • achso

Learn from native speakers, these words will make you sound authentic. Most
importantly, they give your mind a little break without dropping out of
conversation. 

Bird's view on Eupen

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