This post is for all of you students coming to Liege, Belgium for your Erasmus. All of the information you find in this guide are based on tips from former Erasmus students or from my experiences from my Erasmus semester in Liege last autumn 2014/15.
In the following semester/year you will improve your French, travel to various countries, get to know the Belgian beer and fries (they are not French 🙂 ), find new friends and maybe much more.
Most important issue at the beginning of your stay will be the accommodation. Every year, students who postponed their research on studios (kot) or apartments had difficulties finding a good one when the semester already started. It makes a difference on the duration you are staying, most of the owners rent studios for minimum 5 months or one year. Make sure you have some French knowledge when contacting the owner, many of them don’t speak any English.
There are few places where you can look for accommodation in Liège. The easiest are online. Kotaliege.be is the site where I found myself an accommodation. Also a good tip are the three Facebook groups: À louer Liège (Petites Annonces kot – appartement – commu – etc..), Recherche kot/appartement/colocation à Liege and LIEGE A LOUER – bouche à Oreille or the Erasmusu site. Here you will find new listings every other day. What you can also do is to visit the Place du Vingt-Août ULg central building, in the left corridor you will also find some listings for available kots or apartments in Liège. If this all does not workout ask your Erasmus buddy, maybe he/she knows anything and can help you out. There is also the possibility to live in Sart Tilman student rooms, but this is a 30min bus ride from the center and at night there are no more buses, besides most of the Erasmus students live in the center. These student rooms are mostly cheaper than in the downtown Liège.
The most comfortable but also most expensive way to live in Liège is in the Student Hotel. From here you can reach Le Carré, HEC building and the center within 5- 10 min walking but the price/performance ratio is in my opinion not adequate.
The price for accommodation in Liège varies between 250 EUR (small shared kot) and 800 EUR (student hotel) for one person. Most of the students that share an apartment pay around 300 EUR to 350 EUR (all included). I advise you to look for accommodation in advance and let your Erasmus buddy to check the contract for you (if your French is not on that great Level). Also don’t sign anything before visiting the place by yourself, there are many owners who require this and upon arrival you might notice that the kot is in the middle of reconstruction or simply not available (this was my case). A good location for your accommodation is somewhere in the area of Saint- Lambert square, Rue Saint Gilles, Jardin Botanique (next to HEC) or Gare Guillemins. From all of these places you have a good connection to the grocery stores or buses that brings you to Sart Tilman.
In case you need to buy some equipment for your kot, there is IKEA close to Liege, take the bus N75 from Place Saint Lambert to get there.
In my opinion Liège has a good transportation infrastructure. But what you might often experience are the strikes. Sometimes the bus drivers announce it only a couple hours in advance, mostly you will get the info from some students on Facebook, be ready that that day no buses will drive you to Sart Tilman and you need to find yourself another way to get there. A 8 ride ticket (60min) costs 8,80 EUR, you can buy it at any newspaper stand. If you travel at least two times a week to Sart Tilman and you are under 24 years, get yourself the abonnement for 15,50 EUR, if you are over 24 years you pay 37 EUR per month. You can get this in one of the two TEC- customer services. One is located at Saint Lambert square and the second at Gare Guillemins. The sales of the abonnements are very bad organized and be ready to spend up to 3 hours in the line to get your monthly ticket (especially the first couple days in the month). I advise you to get it at Gare Guillemins, the line here is a little shorter and if you know that you will be traveling in Liège a lot, get it for the whole period. Make sure you bring your passport and foto (can be also taken at the point of purchase). You can look up your bus connection here. You will get to Sart Tilman with the Bus N48 leaving from the Opera. Take into account that if you get in at Gare Guillemins, you will not get a seat. Most of the buses are overcrowded.
You can download the transportation map for Liège here Plan Reseau Centre Liège
Grocery Stores and Food
Another big amount of your spendings is going to be the food. Let me sum up the shopping possibilities you have for groceries in Liège. There are four main grocery store chains. Aldi, Colruyt (cheapest ones), Delhaize and Carrefour (average, premium). I suggest you make the big shopping at Aldi or Colruyt. Delhaize has a great offer on fresh quality products. If you want to get the most for your money, go to the La Batte, it’s the biggest and oldest market in Belgium. It’s located right behind the ULg building at Place du Vingt-Août and it is open each Sunday from 8:00 to 14:30. You will get here fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and fish for less money than anywhere in Liège. There is also one stand that sells a bag of fruits or vegetables for 1 EUR (close to the fish stands). In the end of this post you will find a map with all the main locations for shopping in Liège.
The ULg offers some 70 different sports. You can check them out here or visit the salon de sports at Sart Tillman where you will get more info about the price and timetable for your sports classes (29.9). Most of them take place in Sart Tillman and you have to pay for them. If you want to stay in the city and go to gym, there are few options, depending on your budget. My tip for you is to try the Jims GYM which is right next to the St. Paul cathedral. Last year (2014) they offered a three day free trial where you could find out if you like it or not. This year, according to their website its only one day . In the end of September they use to have the possibility to sign up for contract of any duration (minimum 3 months) for 20 EUR/month. There was also one day where you did not have to pay for subscription (50 EUR). This was the cheapest way to workout in Liège. I suggest you check it out and ask about their current offers here.
In the beginning of your stay you will get a Belgian SIM card from your ESN team, this has a credit of 20 EUR you can use for messaging, calling or internet. You can always upload more credit in any of the newsstand. Depending on the amount you will be also able to use internet. For more info click here.
Finally the part I love the most about Belgium. Traveling from Liège is very easy and cheap. Thanks to the GO Pass offered from the Belgium Railways to anyone under 26 years, you can get 10 single trips in the 2nd class to any railway station in Belgium for 50EUR. That way you can explore beautiful cities as Bruges, Gent, Antwerp or Brussels for relatively cheap price (5EUR one way trip). I suggest you also make a trip to the North Sea in Ostende. You can buy this GO Pass on any railway station. It’s not fixed on any name so you can also share it with your friends. For cities you visit on the boarder to Belgium (Maastricht and Aachen) you need another ticket. For more info ask at the Gare Guillemins.
Besides traveling to Belgium cities, Liège is also a good place to visit another countries. It’s only a couple hours ride from Amsterdam and Paris. ESN team organizes one or two trips to France, Netherlands or Germany each semester. If you get the chance to sign in (limited spots), do so. If not, doesn`t matter, take some friends and explore these cities on your own. To Paris you can get from Brussels at very low fares from a bus company called Megabus. To Amsterdam you can take the train or also look for bus rides. Thanks to Ryanair, a low cost airline which flies to Brussels, you can also visit countries like Portugal or Spain at low cost. Belgium is like the heaven for travelers 🙂
Administration at ULg
Upon your arrival you will have to go to Place du Vingt-Août ULg Building to tell them that you have arrived. You will get an Arrival letter which you probably have to send to your home university as proof that you really are studying abroad. It’s also required if you are taking an Erasmus grant. At Place du Vingt-Août at the Incomings office they will also take a photo of you and give you a student card. This has your student ID number on it, which will be required for your exams, so don’t lose it. Together with the documents you will also get the data for you to sing up to the university’s online platform MyUlg.
Here you will be able to view your emails, check out your study program or view your course grades. If you study at HEC you can view your timetables here. You will also get the access to Lola their own online platform where the professors will give you information about your courses.
In the beginning it might all sound a little depressive, particularly if you have courses from Bachelor’s and Master’s study program. You will need some time to figure out which courses you are able to take since some of them take place at the same time. At HEC there is a great coordinator that will help you if needed. Also if you get desperate don’t hesitate to contact your ESN buddy.
Activities and Nightlife
In Liège there is always something to do. There are markets, concerts and festivals all the time. Make sure to check them out. The ESN team will inform you about the upcoming events, you can also check it out here. Don’t miss the Foire de Liège at Pont d’Avroy or La Nocturne des Coteaux de la Citadelle in October. If you are a fan of ice-skating, check out the Patinoire at the shopping center Mediacité. On some Fridays there use to be also theme ice-skating with features like foam and music.
Due the fact that Liège is the home for thousands of students, there are always some parties to go. Le Carré is a small district in the downtown, full of bars and music clubs of any kinds. On weekdays you really can have some fun here, but on weekends it easily gets overcrowded. Some of the parties are visited by so many people that you simply can’t move in there. A highlight you should get tickets for is the FLUO night party by ESN team. A nice bar to go apart from Le Carré is Pot Au Lait, here you can enjoy the taste of many Belgian beers. In case you are on a budget, grab some beers and party with your friends in your kot 🙂
Depending on your study program, you can either have easy classes or really hard ones. Be sure to follow them from the beginning, especially the French ones. The time flies by so fast and soon you will have to face the exams which might not be that easy. Make sure you organize everything so you don’t fail, it really can be a challenge. If you want to improve your French, sign up for the French course at Place du Vingt-Août. If you have French in your study program it’s for free, if not you pay 100 EUR for one semester. You can also sign up for the two weeks intensive course which I highly recommend.
I wish you all Erasmus students a great time in Liege and Belgium. If you have any questions post it in the comments bellow, contact your coordinator or ESN buddy.
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P.S. Don’t get shocked when you go out on Tuesday night, you will find the city under trash because of the lack of trash containers.