Tips for international parents in Leuven

Moving to a new country can be an exciting yet challenging experience, especially when you have children. Leuven offers a fantastic environment for families with its rich cultural heritage, excellent educational institutions, and welcoming community. To help international parents settle smoothly into their new life in Leuven, we have compiled a list of tips that will assist you in navigating the city. 

Gather knowledge on the education system

Leuven boasts a strong education system, both in terms of local and international schools. Take the time to research and understand the different educational options available in the city. Visit schools, attend open houses, and gather information about admission procedures, curriculum, and language requirements. This research will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right school for your children. 

Learn the local language

While many people in Leuven speak English, making an effort to learn Dutch will greatly enhance your integration into the community. Enroll yourself and your children in language courses and join our free Babbel language conversation groups to practice your skills. Learning the local language will not only facilitate communication but also allow you to better understand the culture and connect with locals. 

Discover child-friendly activities and parks 

Leuven offers numerous child-friendly activities and parks, providing opportunities for your little ones to engage in play, socialize, and develop new skills. The M - Museum and the Leuven Public Library often organize children's programs and workshops. Parks like the Kruidtuin and Provincie Domein are perfect for family outings and picnics. Stay updated with our and other local event calendars to ensure you never miss out on the exciting happenings in and around Leuven. 

Explore expat communities 

Connecting with fellow expat parents can be a valuable source of support and guidance. Leuven has a diverse international community, which often gathers at activities International House Leuven organizes. Joining our community will help you meet like-minded individuals and share experiences. Of course we are always there if you seek advice on everything from parenting to navigating bureaucratic processes. 

Familiarize yourself with healthcare services 

Understanding the healthcare system in Belgium is essential for your family's well-being. Research local hospitals, clinics, and doctors who specialize in pediatric care. Register with a general practitioner (GP) and obtain health insurance coverage for your family. Familiarize yourself with emergency services and keep important contact numbers readily available. Find more information on social security and healthcare services in Leuven on this page.  

Embrace the local culture and traditions 

Belgium has a rich cultural heritage, and Leuven is no exception. Encourage your family to embrace the local customs and traditions. Participate in festivals like Carnaval, the Leuven Christmas Market, or the Zomer van Sint-Pieter music festival. Exploring local museums, historical sites, and culinary delights will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of your new home. 

Take advantage of public transportation 

Leuven has a well-connected and efficient public transportation system, making it easy to explore the city and its surroundings. Get acquainted with bus and train routes and purchase a MOBIB card for discounted fares. Leuven is a great city for cycling, so definitely also consider cycling as a means of transportation!  

Engage in international school activities 

If your children attend an international school in Leuven, encourage their active participation in school activities and events. These events often provide opportunities to interact with students from diverse backgrounds, fostering cultural exchange and a sense of belonging. 

Moving to Leuven as an international parent can be a rewarding experience for both you and your children. By following these essential tips, you'll be better equipped to navigate the city and integrate. Are you missing certain information and are you left with questions or concerns? Get in touch with International House Leuven and we will do our utmost best to help you out.   

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