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Meeting new people

Moving to a new country can be especially daunting if you don’t know anyone who lives there already. Whether you’re coming to Ghent with/for a partner or on your own, making new friends is key to settling in. Here is our list of recommended regular events or websites you can turn to to meet both fellow expats and locals.

  1. Bar Meetings Ghent – every Friday night a group of locals and expats meet for drinks in the Gouden Mandeken bar near the Graslei in the centre of town. It’s an informal affair – no name badges or networking, just drinks and a chat. Join the events on their Facebook page to let them know you’re coming. 
  2. Culture Shock – one Wednesday a month, the Herberg Macharius hosts this event where expats get together to swap stories about their experiences in Ghent and their own cultures. You’ll have the opportunity to take to the stage if you’d like to share an anecdote with the room, and this is mostly done in English.
  3. Dzjambo – this is a Ghent-based community which aims to bring together Belgians and expats via common interests. Their website lists their upcoming events, which can range from dinner to a day trip to a donkey park. The descriptions are written in Dutch and there is a fee for some events.
  4. de dappere pootjes – the brave paws – this Facebook group organises regular walks and hikes across Belgium, a great way to see more of the country. The group posts are mainly in English, and you’ll meet both expats and locals as you walk and talk. If you’re into your hiking then it’s also worth joining the group Hiking in Belgium.
  5. Dine With Us – the tagline here is ‘food joins people like nothing else does’ and we couldn’t agree more. The concept is simple – sign up and you’ll be matched with someone or a group of people to have dinner together with (on your own dime). On the sign-up form you can choose specifically to be matched with locals, which is a great way to both make new friends and learn more about Belgium from a local’s perspective.
  6. Expat.Club – a network for international people living in Brussels, Expat.Club also organises paid trips with a pick-up in Ghent. Some past trips include sailing in Ostend and a visit to the White Cliffs of Dover castle and gardens.
  7. Ghent Expat Ladies Friendship Group – as the name suggests, this is one for the ladies. They organise regular drinks and dinner meet-ups in Ghent.
  8. Gentse Spruiten – if you’re coming to Ghent with your children, then this community is a must. At least once a week you can meet up with other parents (a mix of Belgians and expats) for some advice or just a friendly chat. Join their Facebook group or send an email to gentsespruiten@gmail.com to find out when the next meet-up is.
  9. Internations Gent – if you’ve lived abroad before you may have already come across Internations. It’s a world-wide organisation dedicated to expat communities. The Ghent division organises monthly events with a good mix of expats and Belgians who used to live abroad or who are just interested in meeting people from other countries. You do need to become a member on the Internations website to be able to attend the events, and there is a fee for some events.
  10. Meetings, Activities, Events and Parties in Ghent / Gent – this isn’t a regular event, rather a Facebook group that’s open to anyone to post events in, or make suggestions for get-togethers. This is a good group to make sure you don’t miss out on what’s going on in Ghent.
  11. MeetUp.com – similar to Internations, MeetUp is an international community where members can browse and sign up for events taking place in their local area, or create and run their own events. If you have a niche hobby or interest, this might be the place to make some new, like-minded friends.
  12. Taalcafe Mundial – this regular event is all about languages, but it’s a great way to meet new people too. Twice a month (on a Tuesday or Wednesday night), up to around 100 people drop into De Centrale to exchange a wide range of languages in an informal setting. Join the Dutch table to get chatting to some Gent locals. And if you want to get a head start, signing up for a Dutch course can also be a great way to make new friends.
  13. Expats Meetup Group – join this Facebook group if you want to meet up with fellow expats for events. They run a monthly drink, and members of the group can post about events they’re organising or know about which expats might want to join.

Are there any essential events or websites/Facebook groups that we have missed? Let us know by emailing hello@thesquare.gent so we can share and help everyone make new friends in Ghent.

Last updated: July, 2018

Heather
Heather is a language and travel geek at heart, having gotten the bug for it while studying German and Italian in her home country, England. After managing hotel content for a start-up in Berlin, being an Erasmus student in Bologna and writing for Frommer's travel guides while in London, she moved to Gent in 2015 for a year. Still here, Gent must have been doing something right! She's now determined to help other newbie expats settle in and build a great life here in this beautiful city. If you'd like to get in touch, send an email to heather@thesquare.gent

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