Information for Parents: Secondary School Registration and Allocation in Antwerp Region

A guest post by Timo Carlier.

 

Meldjeaan.antwerpen.be 

meldjeaan
image source: meldjeaan.antwerpen.be

 

If your child is currently enrolled in Grade 6 in a local primary school – het 6e leerjaar – then it’s time to choose a school for secondary education, or secundair onderwijs. If you have not yet registered your child, you may have received a letter in the mail reminding you that this process should be completed before 5 PM on April 3rd, 2020, which is this Friday.

In the wider Antwerp region, registration is done through a centralised process, via this website: https://meldjeaansecundair.antwerpen.be/

NB: Corona virus regulations have not affected the timeline of the registration process. 

Should you miss the 3 April 2020 deadline, you will still be able to register with individual schools from 11 May 2020 onwards, but keep in mind that places will be full in some schools by this point. This late registration process closes 3 June 2020.

Gent and Brussels have their own Meldjeaan sites here: https://www.meldjeaan.be/
The registration process

I found signing up on the website straightforward. You will need your child’s rijksregisternummer (national registration number) which can be found on their ISI+ health insurance card (or on the pink stickers used for doctors), or on the back of their ID card (see pic below).

kaart
image source: halloouders.be

If your child does not have an ID card yet, it is probably best to contact your local city council, or districtshuis.

Once signed up, you can select the schools you are interested in by typing the names into a search bar and selecting the schools you want. I’ve been recommended to list at least five schools by a representative of Meldjeaan. Then rank your schools by dragging a small arrow next to each selected school’s name up or down. This is an important step; the order counts. You are now ready to complete the process, though you can revisit the site any time and make changes, up until April 3rd.

Note about 1A and 1B streams

Most children who complete primary school will need to sign up for the 1A stream in secondary school. Children who are unable to successfully complete their primary education will most likely need to choose 1B. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to ask your child’s teacher for advice.

If you are unable to access the website or don’t understand a step in the process, you can call the Meldjeaan team or email them for help (see below.

Results and registration

Results will be sent to parents on 6 May 2020, after which you should register your child at the school you have been allocated. This should be done by appointment and by contacting the school directly.

If the allocated school is not your number 1 choice, you will automatically be put on a waiting list for the schools higher up your list.

Waiting list and follow-up process

This is where things may get a little complicated. It is possible to move up your waiting list, even into the start of the academic year. Please keep the following points in mind:

 

  • Always register your child with the highest ranked school on your list you’ve been allocated
  • By doing so, the schools lower down on your list automatically fall away; this frees new spaces for other applicants
  • You will automatically be put on a waiting list for schools higher up on your list
  • If a space higher up is freed up, you will be notified and can now register with that school; the previous registration is annulled
  • You cannot register with multiple schools
  • It is perfectly acceptable to annul registrations in favour of a school higher up your list, should they become free
  • If you want to see high up on the waiting list for a particular school you are after 6 May, log back into the meldjeaan.antwerpen.be website
  • Waiting list positions are valid until 7 October 2020 (note: this is after the start of the school year!). After that, it’s best to contact the school in question directly for information.

 

Overall, this seems like a fair system to me. It certainly beats parents having to camp out in front of schools, which I’ve heard so much about. 

I have not included details about special education, or early selection for children who have older siblings already enrolled in a school, or whose parents work in Flemish education. Please contact the organisation for more information on that.

Useful information

You can find a list of secondary schools in Antwerp here. You can find information about schools and subject choices here. You can find a current list of available places in schools here. From 10 AM 8 May on, the Meldjeaan website will publish a list of remaining free places for those who have missed online registration. You can also contact them by email or phone: 0800 62 185

helpdesk.meldjeaan@antwerpen.be

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Disclaimer: I am just a parent who has recently gone through and learned about the school registration process over a period of two years, by asking many people lots of questions (and taking lots of notes). I am not an authority on the subject, but I am sharing what I learned here. It is therefore always best to consult the helpdesk above for information.

 

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Antwerp Life During Corona Virus Restrictions

Hello, and thanks for reading Nessascityblog!

As you can imagine, a blog which is usually devoted to sharing information about events, is not going to be very busy right now, so I though I would just do a general post about life in Antwerp and Belgium under the new restrictions, and share some useful links. I will keep editing this, so if you think there is a link I have missed, do get in touch.

UPDATE 27th March: Extension -current measures to stay in place until 19th April.

Information and News from Belgium in English

Flanders Today and The Brussels Times are the news outlets which will bring you the latest Belgian headlines and information in English.

The government website with information about Covid 19 is here and available in French, Dutch, German and English. You can also follow the Federal Health Department on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 12.36.05
The Stad Antwerpen Instagram page.

(translation of text in image above: Stay home; do not gather with others; keep a distance of 1.5m; outdoor exercise is OK, with max 2 people; look after yourself and each other)

The Stad Antwerpen page is mainly in Dutch, but if you go here and scroll down, you will find .PDFs in a variety of languages.

Last week I published this blog post with information in English about organisations and help lines, if being at home is not safe for you or your children (or if you are anxious that someone you know is not safe).

Kids

school table
home school

Lessons are suspended and children are learning from home. Only those who work in essential services (and who cannot find childcare) may take their children into school. Colleges and universities are delivering classes and assignments online.

For learners in English, I have this list of educational sites.

Support and interaction

Lots of people want to help at this time. Others needs help. Stad Antwerpen has this page (in Dutch) for those either requiring help, or wanting to volunteer their help. In both cases you need to fill in a form:

Here is the form if you need help

These are slips to download and deliver if you want to offer help to your neighbours who may be in a vulnerable group. NB: you need to do this while observing social distancing as much as is possible. Other forms of volunteer work can be found here 8pm

At 8pm many people are taking to their balconies and windows every evening to applaud the frontline workers who are keeping essential services -especially health services – open and functioning.

It’s important to make time to Skype/ Zoom/ WhatsApp/ Facetime with friends and family.  If your family is in an other country, you may have extra anxieties and feel home-sick. That’s very understandable – so if you are on Facebook you are very welcome in our group Expats in Antwerp. Not just for Covid 19 info- we have a daily chat thread each day, for general conversation, sharing news, recipes and -of course – pet pics!

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Expats in Antwerp on Facebook

Financial support and assistance for incomes and businesses affected by Covid 19

RVA Antwerp

PMV.eu

Finally….

blogging-1168076_640If  you would like to help keep Nessascityblog going by writing a blog post for me, then now is the time! I welcome posts about how you are managing your time; the challenges and achievements of our changed circumstances; creative writing; how you are working and how your Antwerp business has been affected. Feel free to get in touch if you have an idea!

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When Home Is Not Safe: support during confinement

coronavirus-4939290_640Violence & abuse in the home during confinement due to Corona pandemic: support in Belgium.

I want to post about a group who are vulnerable at this time, and may be in a difficult situation which is made more difficult if you don’t speak Dutch or French; that group is women & children in abusive family situations.

For people in this group, work and school are the safe places -not home. The added dangers to them during this period of confinement are obvious. Sadly, police and support workers are expecting an increase in domestic violence and abuse. Current circumstances mean that some women and children will find themselves spending the vast majority of their days and nights at home with their abuser(s).

If this is you, or a someone you know, please be aware that there is a number to call on this website:

https://www.ecouteviolencesconjugales.be/

There is also this site, which additionally includes numbers for children and young people.:

https://1712.be/

also for children and young people: http://nupraatikerover.be./

(you can also contact this site if you are worried about someone else)

There is also this article in Nieuwsblad, but it is in Dutch and behind a pay wall – you can make an account to read a few articles for free.

https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20200317_04892641…

Here is an explainer in English about contacting the police.

https://www.police.be/en

There is an app called Bright Sky, aimed at helping those affected by domestic abuse, and also those concerned about a friend, colleague or family member in this situation: https://www.hestia.org/brightsky

Screenshot 2020-03-19 at 19.57.49

PLEASE feel free to share this information in groups that you are in -or on your Facebook or Twitter status.

NB: If you supply this information to a woman or family you suspect may be at risk, please do so very carefully and discretely: abusers often monitor the communications of those who they abuse.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 6th, 7th & 8th March

It’s March already!

And if you have a young reader, then you should know that March is also “Jeugdboekenmaand” (Youth Book Month) which means that there’s plenty going on in Bib Permeke for children and young people throughout the month. The theme this year is ART.  See the Permeke library website for events, activities and exhibitions taking place there, or the search the complete agenda on the Jeugdboekenmaand page.

Friday

movie-918655_640Why not start your weekend at the pictures? De Cinema (at De Studio) is showing one of my favourites –The Big Lebowski (1998) – at 8pm. Tickets via the link. It’s conveniently located near a bar/ bistro I like too: Zeppos is just a few doors down and easily recognisable by its red exterior.

Saturday

At Den Beulebak there’s a free vintage comic fair from 10am -5pm. It will take place alongside their regular monthly second hand book market.

Screenshot 2020-03-04 at 15.04.43 Sunday

Today is International Women’s Day. Here are two events you can attend to mark the day here in Antwerp, and there are further events listed in the Events section of this Facebook page.

Proefkonijnen is a children’s theatre on Frankrijklei: maybe their show Drakenjacht (Dragon Hunt) at 2.30pm would be something for your 4+ year old(s) on a Sunday afternoon? If you want to check it out, find tickets here.

Now that the storms have (hopefully) passed, you might like to (re)visit Rivierenhof:  every Sunday at 2pm at the “sprookjeshuis” there’s a  fairy story read aloud (in Dutch) for children aged 6+. It’s costs 5 euros and you can register your child(ren) here, in advance. The Sprookjeshuis is near the Rivierenhof Kasteel and the playground, and there’s a vegetable gardening workshop going on at the same time -click the link; and then on to the Eventbrite link in order to register for this.

The weather will continue to be cooler this weekend max temps 11 degrees), with Saturday likely to be the best day – dry and bright, and showers expected on Friday and on Sunday morning.

Miscellaneous

Runners: You can now sign up for the Antwerp 10 Miles on 26th April 2020. It costs less if you sign up before the 6th April.Screenshot 2020-03-04 at 15.07.56

If you are concerned about the corona virus, this page will keep you updated about the current situation in Belgium (or via the Federal Health Department on Twitter).

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This weekend in Antwerp: 31st January; 1st & 2nd February.

Friday

cycle-path-3444914_640Critical Mass Antwerpen returns for monthly rides throughout 2020. Assemble on Theaterplein from 17.45 pm for an hour’s cycling en masse through the city. The theme for this month’s ride is reflection and visibility, so make sure you are there with your bike lights and reflectors working.

 

Saturday

patisserie-1575070_640Today is the start of Antwerp’s annual Pateekes Week.  Lovers of cakes and pastries can sample them at a discounted rate at participating bakeries, cafésand chocolatiers. To enjoy pateekesweek, you need to get a sheet of 10 vouchers (Pateekespass) for 10 euros. You can get these from the Visit Antwerp outlets at Central Station and on Grote Markt. They are already on sale.

For a philosophical discussion (in English) head down to Den Hopsack bar on Grote Pieterpotstraat for 2pm for their Philosophy Café. You can even email questions for discussion in advance: philosophycafe@protonmail.com

At Kavka on Oudaan there’s a plus-sized clothing closet sale. fIt starts at 1pm and sizes 44- 54 will be on sale.

meir

Sunday

It’s the first Sunday of the month so the shops are open in the centre of Antwerp and on other shopping streets too, for Sunday shopping.

Temperatures may rise slightly this weekend and it should feel a little less chilly, but -as well as bright spells – there are showers likely over the whole weekend.

Miscellaneous

BEOstaffCheck out this recent guest blog post by Grade 10 students of Antwerp International School who visited the Beo Versmarkt (pic right) on Lange Leemstraat to find out about making sustainable choices when grocery shopping in Antwerp.

Chinese New Year celebrations may have concluded, but the Legends of Liondance expo is still on in Permeke library, and this weekend is your last chance to catch it (until Sunday)

 

LOL4_Facebook_cover
image from Legends of Liondance Facebook page

This week I discovered this useful site: Toerisme voor autisme. This site helps you plan autism-friendly activities, visits and holidays in Belgium, to ensure full participation and inclusion of autistic visitors. The site includes destinations and activities which take into account the need for predictability and structure which visitors with autism often have.

Header Toerisme voor Autisme 2

As the UK drifts out of the EU with a whimper rather than a bang, British passport holders who are interested in retaining the advantages of European citizenship by becoming Belgian may find this recent article from The Brussels Times of use.

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The Big Fat Summer Post 2019

Summer is underway!

frog-897420_640

Well, I am taking some time off now, for a month or so, so here’s a grab-bag of useful links and information for a great Antwerp summer. I will be back in August. Until then, additional events will be posted on other social media, listed at the end of this post. For Antwerp pictures, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Thank you for reading and following  Nessascityblog; do please keep sharing it with anyone who might find it handy to have this information in English, especially if they are arriving new in the city this summer -WELCOME!  -and have a fabulous summer 2019 in Antwerp.

Eat & Drink

… at Dokmarkt every Friday from 3pm until 8, and if you want to stay out later, you’re very close to summer bars like Jardim, Sommar and Bocadero -all of which are along the Schelde.

Check out Café Capital in the Stadspark if you haven’t already done so. It’s great if you IMG_20190718_174847_resized_20190718_054908004are taking kids to the play area; for an evening out try Bar Jeudi on Thursdays.

Fiesta Europa is a popular, diverse and accessible five day food festival on Groenplaats which is on until Sunday 21st July.

Flying Pig are on Steenplein on the 2nd August; drinks, music, food trucks and general revelry from 5pm.

Bollekesfeest is an annual Nessascityblog not-to-be-missed favourite, celebrating our local beer: de Koninck, or Bollekes as it is known once served in its distinctive bow-like glass. Bollekesfeest is on the 16th, 17th and 18th August, and like other Stad Antwerpen events will be cashless this year. As well as the local brew there will be lots of other foods and drinks to enjoy. If you have kids to entertain (or are hungry) then the Steenplein is the best location for you -there you will find the Kids’ Village and all the food stands.

Screenshot 2019-07-18 at 11.43.04
Bollekesfeest on Steenplein, next to the river

Visit

Experience the excitement of going around Antwerp’s best museums throughout the night on Museum Night on the 3rd August, and don’t forget that Stad Antwerpen museums are free on the last Wednesday of the month.

Screenshot 2019-07-18 at 18.02.46
MUHKA is Antwerp’s museum of contemporary art

Enjoy Lambermonmartre the largest open-air local art market: on Leopold de Waalplaats (in front of KMSKA) on the 28th July and the 25th August. For the other regular markets in Antwerp, here’s a useful list.

Take a stroll along the renewed Scheldekaaien – the banks of the river from Sint Andries to the south of the city have been renovated with open spaces, places to sit, stroll or for kids to play (pic below).

TzuidFKids

If you are scratching your head looking for something cheap and cheerful to occupy the kids on their summer holidays, then have a look at Speel-O-Rama at the Zuiderpershuis, starting next week: it’s on from 15th July -9th August and costs only 2 euros per day, per child. It’s for kids aged 7-13, and offers workshops, activities, creative play, theatre and water games.

These Antwerp Sports Activities are for children aged 6-13. You need to register your child for a place on an activity. These usually mean a week sport sessions (Mon- Fri) in your chosen sport.

Bookish and creative kids might enjoy Bibfabriek at the Permeke library, on Wednesdays at 2pm during July.

belgium-flag-1332904_640Neighbourhood parties and festivals

The 21st of July is Belgium’s national day. Here are a few places which will be marking the formation of our relatively youthful nation.

BibpermekePride
Antwerp Library Cafe wearing Pride colours on De Coninckplein

You can find all you need to know about Antwerp Pride, which is celebrated in Antwerp from the 7th-11th August. Of course there will be loads of Pride-related events taking place around the city, but for many the most important is the Pride Parade which takes place on Saturday 10th August, starting with a pre-parade event at midday. See here for the details, including the route of the parade.

Also taking place during Pride week (and continuing until the 18th August) is the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. For a great general guide in English to LGBT+ life in Antwerp see this guest post from last year by Timothy Junes.

linkerwoofer
Linkerwoofer

Sfinks Festival (25th-28th July) and Linkerwoofer (2nd -3rd August) are two popular Antwerp music festivals. Sfinks is a free four day festival, Linkerwoofer is ticketed. Both events are child-friendly.


Browse, buy & sell

Antwerp regulars-  for those in search of a second hard bargain- include Goegekregen rommelmarkt (28th July) and Permeke Boekenplein (21st July)

You can go Sunday Shopping in the shopping areas of the city on the first Sunday of the month.

Handy summer links

The complete Antwerp summer programme (Zomer van Antwerpen) was released on 28th May at http://www.zva.be/. Helpfully, there are English and French versions of the programme in downloadable pdf form.

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 11.47.07

Summerbars.com is a really useful link with the details of all the summer bars in Antwerp for this season.

And there are a couple of open-air swimming pools in Antwerp, which can be found here.

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Wil je Nederlands leren in Antwerpen?

Would you like to learn Dutch in Antwerp?

jonkemp
Jon Kemp

Hi, my name is Jon Kemp and I moved from UK to Antwerp in 2014 to work as a marine engineer for International Marine Dredging Consultancy (www.imdc.be). I had only intended to stay for one or two years but I really like the city and now it feels like home.

Although not necessary for my job, I felt it was important to learn Dutch to better integrate into my new home and I have always believed that it is good to be able to speak the language spoken in the place where you live.  So after six months of enjoying the Belgium beer, making new friends and enjoying the World Cup (although, not so much for the England performance in 2014…) I decided to enrol in a Dutch Language course and since then have tried many different courses. I felt it would be good to share my experience.

Essentially there are two main options, as explained below. These are the Linguapolis courses run by the University of Antwerp and the CVO courses (CVO Antwerpen, CVO Encora, CVO LBC & CVO Sopro), which are government subsidised courses, and so are cheaper (but not necessarily of a lesser quality).

chat-23713_640All have different options in terms of timing (day/night), number of classes per week, and locations where you can study.

Before comparing the differences in the courses, one of the main differentiators when learning Dutch is the teacher and your fellow classmates, and these can often have the biggest impact on your learning experience.

Atlas

atlasophetplein_websitebeeld_RGB
Image from Atlas

https://www.atlas-antwerpen.be/en

Atlas can help with integration and can find suitable courses (although they are unlikely to recommend the Linguapolis course). It should be noted that waiting times can sometimes be long or the place is busy, and if you are already working full time it can be difficult to get an appointment

 

Linguapolis

https://www.uantwerpen.be/…/taalople…/taalaanbod/nederlands/

Linguapolis runs the courses at the University of Antwerp and they state that you are supposed to have a university degree, and have learnt a second language, to enter but they don’t seem to check.

studylangGenerally their course notes are well-presented in a bound book for each of the 5 levels. These courses have a solid focus on correct grammar and generally provide excellent teaching and explanation of the grammar and the rules. The courses move quickly, and you will get quite a lot of homework, which you will need to do if you want to pass the exams and keep up with the lessons.

Their Level 1 course gets you to a Level A2 in 10 -15 weeks, which would typically take you longer if you followed the CVO courses. Although there is speaking in the class, correct speaking is a key focus (e.g. ensuring inversion is used) over general conversation and simply ‘getting by’. The method of marking exams is stringent and is called negative marking. For example, if you have 15 questions and 10 points, you get a minus point for every wrong answer, meaning you could have 5 correct answers but still score 0. The price is high compared to the CVO courses though.

51720862_246439129625210_9078667218488655872_n
Chart showing language level equivalences. (source)

CVO Vitant

CVO stands for Centrum Voor Volwassenonderwijs, and is essentially the umbrella name for adult education. There are several CVO schools in Antwerp and all follow, more or less, the same language trajectory i.e. 1.1 to 4.2 (see image above).

Sopromaterial
course books

In Antwerp there are four institutions operating along this style: CVO Antwerpen, CVO Encora, CVO LBC & CVO Sopro and all have various schools located around Antwerp. CVO LBC and CVO Sopro have a nice bound book from which to work, while CVO Antwerpen and CVO Encora provide a folder and A4 handouts. Focus tends to be on using the language and learning by use with less in the way of detailed explanation of grammar and rules. The quality is mainly dictated by the teacher and the experience you have is also influenced by your fellow classmates.

Useful links

CVO Antwerpen: http://www.cvoantwerpen.be/v…/nederlands-voor-anderstaligen/ (can see directly the availability of the courses, is also in English)

CVO Encora: https://www.stedelijkonderwijs.be/…/nederlands-voor-anderst…

(also have something called open classes, which include some self-study, with some workshops)

CVO LBC http://antwerpen.lbconderwijs.be/content/nederlands

CVO Sopro http://www.sopro.be/

Summary

Each course has its own advantages and disadvantages. The Linguapolis exams are more difficult (e.g. I passed level 3.2 at a CVO school with 77%, but failed Linguapolis Level 4 afterwards – they are both supposed to be to a B2 level in the European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Anyway, I hope you find this brief overview of some of the available options for learning Dutch in Antwerp useful. In addition to these options, there are private teachers and a school called Berlitz. There are also Facebook and meet-up groups that organise social meet ups where you can practise your new Dutch skills. Happy learning!

 

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Need a helping hand getting used to Antwerp life? Meet Wwelcome!

Wwelcomelogo

1) Please tell us about Wwelcome: when, how and why it came to be established.

Wwelcome was established one year ago on April 1st 2018. While working for an insurance company, the two founders discovered a great need for personal assistance with the various sorts of documentation required of newcomers to Belgium.

Even though some organisations (including governmental) already provide administrative assistance, newcomers sometimes had challenging or negative experiences when trying to get their paperwork in order .

Our organisation supports immigrants to Belgium with whichever issues they bring to the table. It’s our mission to make them feel at home here: hence, Wwelcome.

2) What services do you offer and how are these funded?

Over the past year, we have noticed a great variety in the types of support that people need. Therefore we mostly operate in a Q&A style. Our members bring us letters, bills and contracts to translate and explain, or various application forms to enter. Sometimes, they ask for advice about immigration, naturalisation, buying a house or getting a divorce.

Next to explaining and offering advice, we mediate on behalf of our members with the government, insurance and energy companies, realtors, banks, employers, schools and landlords. Though we are not lawyers or accountants, we are the link between our members and these specialists.

All of this we provide for a monthly subscription of €10 (our “All-You-Can-Eat” formula!). If people prefer, we can also service for €10 per hour.

In addition we can accompany people to the hospital, police, OCMW, or any place else in order to interpret. We offer discounts at our partner organisations and various stores such as IKEA, Carrefour and Kinepolis. The more members we have, the bigger the discounts we can offer.

For business owners, we offer the above and a number of additional services. We support them with taking the first steps in establishing their business, creating financial plans, understanding social and health requirements, applying for loans and by advertising them through our media platforms. Business owners pay a different membership fee, depending on the type and size of their business.

3) What are the most common challenges or difficulties experienced by newcomers to Antwerp?

Wwelcome3
8 different languages are spoken by Wwelcome staff

The most common challenges that are brought to our attention are firstly,  communication and arranging matters with the government and aligned associations. Bureaucracies are not always open-minded or willing to communicate in English, and people often don’t know what they are expected to do next. Even for Dutch-speakers, it is often difficult to grasp what is meant by some of the letters newcomers receive. Secondly, problems with justifying bills: many people just pay the invoice as is, even though they could reduce a payment by giving the correct information and not have to pay the (entire) bill. This means they avoid paying for a service that they don’t receive or don’t want.

4) Many are concerned by the rise in populism across Europe at the moment, and the racism, anti-immigrant or xenophobic feelings which accompany this rise. Is this something that is a you notice here in your work, or in your personal experiences?

We don’t come across direct racism. However, many people experience discrimination at an institutional level (government or companies) due to the fact that they cannot advocate for themselves in Dutch.

Wwelcome2
Helping clients and partners alike

We notice that sometimes organisations (also landlords, employers and even business partners) try to outsmart our members. However, when we make the call or write the mail, they are quick to respond with “sorry, yes, I understand…”.

There also happens to be a rule that for administrative *Artikel 60 work, Muslim women are required to take off their scarf. If they don’t, they are fired and lose their allowance.

5) In your line of work, what does success look like?

Everyday success for us is bringing peace of mind to our members, resolving their worries and offering an optimistic view of their future.

Long-term success would be a flourishing organisation throughout Europe where we can touch the lives of millions of immigrants; welcoming them with open arms and providing an antidote to the negative populist voices. When people feel welcome, they are keen to contribute positively to the communities that they have made their home.

Wwelcome is located at Bredabaan 371 in Merksem. If you’re coming by tram, then trams 2 & 3 stop almost outside our office at the stop called Burgemeester Nolf.

*Artikel 60 is an employment opportunity arranged by the OCMW for people on a government allowance or those who have no income at all. 
For more info see: https://www.mi-is.be/nl/artikel-60-ss-7

Useful Wwelcome links

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Special post: Leandro Targon @ Hardrock Cafe Antwerp.

 

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Leandro Targon

 

Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?

I’m from Mendoza, in western Argentina. My city is the proud wine capital of South America and lays at the feet of the Andes.

I first came to Belgium in June 2016 for holidays and during that trip met my spouse, who is from the Netherlands. Ten months later we were married in Antwerp!

Tell us about your job.

I’m the Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. I simply love my job: I’m responsible for the 100% of the sales figures of our cafe (groups, leisure, corporate and individuals) and contracting with business partners. Being the spokesman and image of the brand in the Flemish region, I plan, budget and execute the yearly event calendar. I’m also responsible for the marketing communication of our cafe.

You are right at the heart of an area very popular with tourists. What’s that like and how is the tourism business faring in Antwerp at the moment?

We are indeed at the core of everything that happens in Antwerp. Tourism figures are growing considerably every year in the city, but at the moment there is a big focus on the business traveler, weekdays and weekend visitors from neighbouring areas who come mainly for shopping, people interested in the cultural aspects of the city, and plenty of foodies. Like many in the hospitality industry, we’re aiming for major growth in the long-stay leisure traveler segment, mainly the international one. That is certainly one big area of opportunity compared to other destinations in the Benelux, and hopefully with the increasing number of cruise ships calling at the port of Antwerp, there will be much better results.

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Leandro with Santa at the kids’ Christmas Breakfast

Can a place like Hard Rock be something that is both for locals and tourists, or do you think of them as being very separate demographics?

Combining the two of them is the exact key for what an authentically genuine Hard Rock Cafe must be. We are a worldwide well-known reference for tourists, and as such our cafes are an attraction. But the strength of our business resides in the local community; both Flemish and expats. Therefore our events and initiatives welcome everybody, without putting our guests into boxes. Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp is our house, and that’s how we like to be seen.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

2019 is a year full of ambitions for us as a cafe. In March we will have been open for two years and that is something we’re immensely happy about. My personal and professional goal is to enhance our fans’ experience, and create genuine experiences that rock. Undoubtedly it will be an amazing year!

What do you like best about living in Antwerp, and what do you miss about your home country?

I totally love that Antwerp is such an international city; a hub for business, its also offers plenty of heritage and culture, as well as amazing shops and museums to visit, and I love the fact that is so beautiful. I’ve lived in many countries before coming here, and been out of Argentina for more than seven years… I wouldn’t say I really  “miss” something about my country because I receive visits from friends and family at least once a month, and I go to Argentina twice a year. The nature over there is breathtaking, so I try to reconnect with that every time I’m back.

Hard Rock Cafe is on Groenplaats, Antwerp.

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Antwerp memories: buskers and street musicians in Antwerp – a guest post by Dave Llewellyn

Dave Llewellyn was part of the scenery on the streets of Antwerp between 1988 and 2012. Before the Metro played recorded music if you walked through Diamant, Plantin or Groenplaats the chances are you threw a couple of Belgian Francs (or latterly Euros) into his guitar case. Dave not only knows so many of the stories and the people who inhabit the Diamond City but is interwoven into many of them, as Antwerp became home for him and the families he started on the banks of the Schelde. Here he writes about his experiences and memories of his time in Antwerp:


My love affair with Belgium started with a portion of stoofvlees in Ieper that made it impossible to get the boat back to the UK from France, as we all got really bad food poisoning. Recovering before my family did, I realised that I really liked Belgian people so instead of heading for Oostende, I turned east towards the Diamond City arriving on a Thursday in 1988 just in time to rent a tiny flat on the Kattenberg in Borgerhout, from the priest on the Laar. I remember it was a Thursday because when I went out to get my car the next morning it had been replaced by hundreds of market stalls. Welcome to Belgium!

I had been a busker in France and looked forward to trying out some of my music for Belgian people. The first and most obvious difference I noticed was in the approach to bureaucracy and paperwork: France have a very “laissez faire” attitude to life. However, Belgian authorities need a paper for EVERYTHING, and in every “gemeente”. So having been stopped about five times by police on my first morning I found myself in the Diamant Metro where there were no police; just a couple of friendly security guards. We could finally make a living in the cultural car crash the locals call Antwaarp and become part of the blood that travels daily up the main arteries of the The Carnotstraat and the Leien, which when I arrived, still had the “kinderkopkes” on road surfaces into the centre, and the old town. 

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When I first arrived “straatmuzikanten” were  honoured as an art form and the quality was the best I have ever known; better than any other city I have ever played in. Each summer, the “terrasjes” would fill up with tourists and locals looking to be entertained whilst they relaxed in the sun with a “pintje” under the watchful gaze of Rubens who surveyed the square from his plinth in the centre of the Groenplaats.  Every busker would have their local and I settled in what at the time was called The Centra in the corner under the shadow of the Cathedral. It was run by a Dutchman who served trays of drinks on skeelers and I never witnessed him drop a thing in all the years I was there. Summers came and went, and in the winter we would go to a little buskers’ pub on the Kaai called the Muziekdoos run by Etienne who seemed to have been plucked straight out of 1967. The bar was cosy; the tables were barrels and they all had candles on them for ambience.  I remember one night when Stef Kamil Carlens in his pre Deus days had everyone dancing on the tables as he and another guy belted out a particularly bawdy Violent Femmes song. Those were the golden days.

Things changed drastically for street musicians in Antwerp and for the audiences on the terraces when new countries joined the EU. Unfortunately this caused some tension, and personally I do not think that audiences enjoyed the newly arrived musicians that much. The street music scene changed. Many of the real musicians left to go ply their craft in other cities. Others successfully formed bands: Deus, Zita Swoon, and Kiss My Jazz among others.

Me? I did something else…     

*     *     *

This picture shows a seat on The Groenplaats, informally known as “Buskers’ Bench”. Like me , you’ve probably walked past it many times without giving it a second thought. For Dave, it is strongly linked with his memories of musician and songwriter John Swift (“that was his bench”) who co-wrote the 1960s hit I Can’t Let Maggie Go. Behind the bench is a cafe/ bar called “De Kleine Post” -this was formerly Centra, mentioned above.

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10 things you shouldn’t forget when becoming an Expat in Antwerp: a special post by Laura Soave, aka Nonnative blog

10 top tips you might find handy if you are new (or newish!) to the City of Antwerp.

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1. Don’t forget to ask for help.   
In Antwerp you’ll find so many communities for each nationality that you can easily reach on different social networks. Use these tools when you need help. Ask politely for info: you’ll find better allies here, than anywhere else.
See: Expats in Antwerp group on Facebook or go to Language café events like at
2. Keep in contact with friends and family.  
This might sound cheesy, but life doesn’t stop for them just because we’re away. They get old, have babies, they move on. You might want to ensure that you hear from them regularly. It’s just a little more effort that you have to make, than if you still lived close to them.
Try: apps like  Skype
3. Learn the local language. 
This might sound silly when living in a English-friendly country, but learning some Flemish might give you advantages you didn’t consider before…. and don’t forget that leaving a shop or the post office with a smile, is also a positive way of connecting with your new neighbours.
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4. Keep your mind open.  
Not everything you’re used to is better than the Belgian culture that is hosting you. Keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of doing everyday things.
Find out about family support on Kind en Gezin
Get out and about with a Velo citybike
5. Make local friends too.  
Explore the international community in the city you’re living, but don’t forget to make friends with Antwerpenaars too. They don’t have to become your best friends yet, you need them to help you better understand the society, to feel less misplaced. when someone explains a local joke to you, it can help you feel more included.
Visit a local library
Join a local sports activity.
6. Learn about history. cathedral 
History is what makes a city big or small. It’s number one evaluation element to figure out whether a city is interesting or not. Never ignore this important aspect while being part of Antwerp community. It could be finding a local guide, going to a museum and reading the little guide book or reading some history books at the library, etc. History is what makes everything start.
See: Visit Antwerp website and check out the page about Antwerp Museums
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7.  Sharing is caring.  
Some people might seem less interested in you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the traditions of your own culture. If you listen and respect Belgian culture, locals will appreciate every once in a while being introduced to an aspect of your culture too. It doesn’t have to be big; it could be something small like baking something typical for your office.
8. Avoid negative comparisons.   
If you are about to start a new journey in Antwerp, try to be positive about your new environment, and avoid negative comparisons. People around you should accept you for who you are, where you come from and what you stand for. In return, give the host culture a real chance to introduce itself.
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9. Never miss an opportunity to have new encounters. 
You are never really alone if you surround yourself with new friends. If people you don’t know well invite you for an activity or an event in the city where you live, try to attend. Even if you’re not going to have the time of your life every time, it’s important to participate in as many events as possible and meet as many people as possible.
See Uit in Vlaanderen website  for “what’s on” info, or join Internations, or a community group in Hoplr.
10. Never settle down.
Keep exploring Antwerp; never give up the chance of finding something new you weren’t aware of. Be amazed, like a child that sees everything everyday as if it’s the first time.

 

About the blogger

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Laura Soave (nonnative blog)

Laura Soave is an Antwerp blogger and designer from Italy. Check out her blog: nonnative and find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter  

Would you like to write a guest post about your experiences (or knowledge) of Antwerp? contact me on nessascityblog@gmail.com. I’d like to hear your Antwerp story.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 18th, 19th & 20th May

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HERE’S THE GOOGLE MAP FOR THIS WEEKEND AND BEYOND …

FEATS (Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies) is on over this weekend on (18th -21st). It is hosted by BATS VZW (Antwerp’s own British American Theatre Society) and takes place at the Fakkel Theatre on Hoogstraat.  Tickets are popular, so waste no time in getting yours if you would like to go. Tickets via this link will get you an evening comprising of three performances. Here is the list of participating groups, and the FEATS program.

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On Steenplein, some and enjoy another Aper’eau event next to the river from 5pm.

A little way along the river, summer bar Bocadero opens for the summer season at Waagnatie from midday.

Amorika host an evening of Greek music at ‘T Werkhuys (8pm)  for just 5 euros (pic right, courtest of Amorika).

Saturday

Cross the river for an Evening Market on Frederik Van Eedenplein from 3pm to 9pm.

Sinksenfoor (funfair) opens today in Park Spoor Oost at 2pm. Sinksenfoor is on an ongoing summer attraction, open until 24th June.

Sunday (Pentecost)

The regular second hand book market on de Coninckplein has a musical dimension this month, as it will be accompanied by a piano marathon.

For more general bargain hunters, this Rommelmarkt, free from 10am -6pm at Skate Planet.

Japan Con takes place in the Loods building (Park Spoor Noord) and brings Asian pop culture to Antwerp (animé, Manga & cosplay) from 10am -6pm. Tickets are E8.99 (free for kids under 10)

There are Pentecost services at OLV Cathedral.

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Bocadero Summer Bar

Friday will be cool/ mild (16 degrees) The weekend should be mostly dry, with temperatures warming up on Saturday (20-21 degrees, cloudy with sunny patches) when there could be a light shower. Sunnier on Sunday.

Miscellaneous

I am proud to share this post I wrote about Antwerp for Discovering Belgium blog.

Monday is Pentecost Monday (aka Whit Monday). It’s a public holiday so most shops will be closed. Warm sunshine expected! How about this bike market on Dageraadplaats instead? Goegekregen are also holding one of their secondhand markets on Theaterplein from 9am.

Also on Monday a guest post here on Nessascityblog, from the lovely Nonnative Blog

Keep an eye on the ZVA website for the release of the Antwerp summer programme on the 22nd May (Tuesday). Tickets for events will be available from 2nd June.

I’m pleased to share this blog post: Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published recently on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

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Open- air swimming pool De Molen is now open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from  midday until 6pm.

Summer bars now open: Bar JardimBar Paniek and Bocadero (from 18th May).

 

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