Tag Archives: Belgium

Life in Kortrijk

It’s now half way of my exchange so I thought that it might be good time to write some thoughts here. In spring 2018 I decided to go study abroad and after long consideration the best city for me looked to be Kortrijk in Belgium. Kortrijk is quite small city with only 75 000 citizens, but the center isn’t feeling so small as you might think because most of the people are living there and that makes Kortrijk look bigger than what it is. Kortrijk is located in the west part of Belgium and main language here is Dutch, but many people can speak French too.

I’m studying automation technics and the school where I study here is called VIVES University of Applied Sciences. I have studied mostly by myself or with local students because here isn’t any other Erasmus student from a different country in my field of studies. In my opinion studying here is more practical than in TAMK. After short part of theory there are many project-based courses where you need to be ready to study independently. Of course, teachers will help you every time you ask some help from them. In the matter of fact, local students are also very helpful at the lessons.

Before I came here in Belgium I searched apartments where to live and found that there is chance to get a room from a student house by VIVES. There’s approximately 80 apartments at the house and they are all wanted so I was very lucky to got one. Rent is also quite reasonable, 350€ per month. The best part of the house is that it’s full of exchange students (well mostly Spanish of course because they are the most eager people to do exchange with their big groups…) so it’s easy get familiar with people from different culture. One thing that has surprised me is that Erasmus students here is quite bad in English (me included as you can see) but luckily locals are much better, and they are willing to speak English.

 

In weekdays after school I usually do some sports or then I hang out with other Erasmus students at the residence. In the weekends it’s very easy to do trips to other city in Belgium, France, Netherlands or Germany. Travelling with train here is very cheap, only 6-7 € per ticket and if that feels too expensive, you can take Flixbus which is even more cheaper. During my exchange I have visited in four different counties and ten difference cities.

 

I have still couple months left my exchange and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!

Greetings from Belgium!

I am spending my exchange period in Belgium, in a small town called Kortrijk. Kortrijk’s population is approximately 70 000 and it’s located right next to border between Belgium and France, only 30 km away from Lille. Daily life is very similar than in Finland except the culture of using bicycle for going to school or work. In first weeks I also rented a bike and joined this massive group of cyclists.  First two months have gone so fast that I haven’t even noticed it! Let’s open things a bit.

Studying in Belgium is quite similar that it is back in Finland. You have lectures for theory and then lots of laboratory work to support theory. Here in Kortrijk school have great facilities and resources for those laboratory courses. Every time in the laboratory there is all the time teacher from who you can ask help if you need. I have done some laboratory works in the lab while there are local students, beside working only with exchange students, and I have found out that they are very kind and helpful if you just ask something from them, local students english skills are also in a good level. Same thing is with teachers here, they help you with good patience and knowledge and make sure that you really understood. After all teaching methods doesn’t really difference from Finland style, it hasn’t been as big cultural shock as I thought before exchange began!

I am living in residence owned by the VIVES (school where I am studying). There’s over 100 people living in there, mostly exchange students but also some local students. In my spare time I go to gym and spend time with my friends at the residence. In the residence atmosphere is very nice so everyone gets along with everyone. Belgium is a small country, so couple of other countries are just couple hours away from our city for example Netherlands and France. So far I have visited with my friends cities like Brussel, Brugge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Lille and couple smaller towns in Belgium. In autumn break we did four days visit to Milan, Italy. Cities in Belgium looks similar a lot compared to each other; old churches, market square and same architecture all around cities.

Now I understand why Belgian beers are so famous, even though they are strong they doesn’t taste like that. So far Belgian beers have been best beers I have ever tasted. Beer is also very cheap here! Belgian waffles, fries and chocolate are also very good according to my experiences with them. I have also seen two Belgium’s top league football game and one Italy Serie A game during this time.

There is still few weeks left of this exchange and I’m going to take all advantage of this time left in here.

  • Tomi Seppälä

Atypical Antwerp

Oh Antwerp, you son of a gun. What can I say, I loved my time there.

Antwerp is a city in northern Belgium. A local proverb states “Antwerp is the city and the rest is parking”. Apparently the rest of Belgium isn’t too happy about that, but as a fresh citizen of Antwerp that sounded promising. It’s a city of diamonds, fashion and is home to one of the biggest ports in the world. You could definitely see this walking down the street or next to the river, but as the most usual destination was a terrace of some bar, me and some of my exchange buddies missed a few cultural aspects due to tunnel vision.

I chose Antwerp since they offered a comprehensive marketing-central course load, and while I was optimistic about my studies, the courses in digital-, content-, and data-driven marketing exceeded my expectations. I felt that I achieved a comprehensive understanding of marketing in the modern digital space, although I had already completed all my marketing studies in TAMK. Big up for the marketing studies offered at the Artesis Plantijn University College of Antwerp.

Apart from the studies there’s a lot to do. The city is booming every weekend and there’s a lot of events during the week held by student organisations or other entities. There’s a lot of culture to see if you happen to be a fan of the arts; and if you’re not, there’s a lot of beer to drink, since Belgium has one of the most prominent beer cultures in the world. Belgium itself is a relatively small country so you can see most of what it has to offer by buying a train pass for around 55€, with which you get ten domestic train rides.

There wasn’t a significant difference as to how studying / working is in Belgium in relation to Finland. The Flemish people are pretty similar to Finnish people in a lot of ways.

If you go to Antwerp on exchange, here’s a list of tips:

The ESN Membership is probably not that worthwhile to get.

Do NOT take the European Project option (EPS). People who had it were pulling their hair out for 5 months.

If you want to travel in Belgium, do it rathersooner than later. I only really saw three cities during my time there. Oops.

Bolleke & Triple D’Anvers (made by De Koninck) are local beers specific to Antwerp. At least try them.

The beer is stronger in Belgium and you usually can’t tell that by taste. It will get you by surprise.

Stay clear of a bar called “De Prof”. Or don’t if you’re curious, but you’ll agree eventually.

Most exchange students I got to know during that five months really came to like Antwerp and its atmosphere. Go out, go to events and activities even though you might not feel like going, it’ll all be worth it at the end of the day. Five months is a short time, but I’m happy to have spent it in Antwerp.

 

My friend sporting a Triple D’Anvers on a chill street in Antwerp

 

-Petteri

Welkom in België

I am going to be studying here in Belgium for 10 months all together! 5 months behind, 5 are now ahead.

First town that I got to live in was called Kortrijk (literally nobody knows of this city, nobody) and it is a small town that has about 70 000 inhabitants. The area is quite big, but the city center itself is quite small. Some restaurants and shops can be found, but if you would want to do something, smarter to just go to visit for example Gent, Antwerpen or maybe Brugge. Best part about Belgium is the fact that it is such a small country, you can travel to any city with the train at it takes max. one and a half hours!

At home I am studying Hospitality Management, but in Kortrijk my studies mostly contained from business. Nice little change and it is connected in some ways to my own studies.

Course selection was not so big and many courses were cancelled for some reason in the beginning, which was a big disappointment for me, because all the courses I wanted to take and were connected the most to my field were the ones that got cancelled. But anyway I feel like I have learned some new things.

The study part is quite the same here as it is Finland! A lot of team works, quite many presentations and some exams. Big difference is that in Finland in one semester I might have maybe 3-4 courses but here I had about 10-11. Also something new for me was doing an oral exam, never have had those in Finland.

I think that quite sums up my semester! Now getting ready for my next semester which I will be doing in Brugge.

Prettige Kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Greetings from sunny Ghent!

I’ve been studying international business management here for the fall semester, in a university called Artevelde HS. The courses I opted in have varied all the way from E-marketing and European business to the introduction of digital design. The way of studying is quite similar to Finland, except there are even more group works in addition to the exams. The quality of teaching is pretty much on the same level too, but some of the topics are bit more modern than the ones taught in TAMK.

Campus Kantienberg, the main campus

 

During my spare time I’ve mostly been doing same sort of things as I would back home, like  hanging out with friends, working out at the gym and writing essays. The one thing I’ve gotten a chance to do more, is travelling more frequently. Belgium is not too far away from anywhere in Central Europe, and I’ve been blessed with trips to Berlin, Namur and Amsterdam for couple of times. My foreign friends have been travelling even more, but as an European I’ve been visited most of the places for various times before.

Lovely and captivating city center of Ghent

The best thing about the exchange has been the city of Ghent and i would recommend everyone to spend a day or two here. Only half an hour away from the hectic EU capital Brussels, is this treasure filled with stunning old building and sceneries around water. With approximately 300,000 habitants it’s not much bigger than Tampere, but it’s never-ending heaven of gorgeous architecture accessible by bike. Local selection of beers is excellent and students should be happy to know, that they’re not ruined with high prices either.

Anyhow, now it’s time to get through the last lectures before christmas break and to get some of that fine Belgian chocolate to bring home for the holidays.

Wishing everyone merry christmas and happy holidays,

Jami

The greatest beer and waffles in the world, greetings from Belgium!

I’ve spend the last 5 months in Aalst, Belgium and it’s now my last 2 weeks here. Aalst is a smaller city located between Brussels and Ghent. I studied construction engineering / site management at Odisee College University. I’m really not the type to share an apartment with other people so I had my own studio apartment close to the centre of Aalst which was great.

One of the reasons I wanted to come to Odisee is that I wanted to do my bachelor’s final project in English. The final project structure was completely different than in Finland. I had this building site I visited regularly and the final project was to make plans, drawings, schedule etc. for them. I think that doing final project like this is more practical and educational for a construction engineer than doing a thesis. Otherwise I think that studying in TAMK is more theoretical than in Odisee. For example we had this course in Odisee where we did plans for a roof and a balcony and then actually constructed them at the school. The studying atmosphere was pretty relaxed, the teachers knew their stuff and most of them spoke English almost fluently.

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There wasn’t lot of other exchange students in Aalst so all the exchange student activities were in Ghent which is one of the greatest cities I’ve ever been to. I also had my Dutch classes in Ghent so I spend a lot of time in there. The trains are very cheap and easy to use in Belgium so I spend a lot of time travelling to different places. My favourite cities in Belgium are Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp, the streets on those places look like a fairy tale. The location of Belgium is amazing for a traveller, in my time here I got to visit France twice, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Netherlands. Other than travelling I really liked biking here since the weather was amazing and there is like zero uphills in the whole northern Belgium.

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Before coming to Belgium I didn’t even know that I like beer but the first time I ordered Rochefort 10 it felt like falling in love. My Belgian friends showed me all the different beers and I can now understand why Belgian beer culture is on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. The people here are very helpful and somewhat like Finnish people. What I mean by this is that Belgians also aren’t the type to small talk and such but when you get to know them they become great friends.

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I really enjoyed my stay Belgium, this place is now like a second home to me. I made some Belgian friends and learned a lot about their culture. My spoken English is now top notch and I’ve learned some Flemish/Dutch too. I could see myself living here again in the future.

Groetjes,

Jesse

Salut de Brussels!

Greetings from the heart of European Union!

Now the three months in Brussels are over, and I had such a great time here!

I  worked at three “stages de kiné” (internships of physiotherapy). The first two stages were in the biggest hospital of Brussels, in the department of orthopedics to start with,  then in the intensive care unit. The last one I did on the other side of the city in a trauma rehabilitation centre. All were interesting experiences and I got lots of knowledge from many different fields of physiotherapy.

As a city I just love Brussels! It is a very lively and vibrant, international metropol with an air of a smaller town. What surprised me was the beauty: very pretty old buildings and nice parks all around. There is always something interesting going on, such as festivals, dancing, concerts, museums etc. In addition I have met many new people from all corners of the world.

At work everything is very social, usually the “kinés” all work in the same big room with their clients and a client might have more than one person responsible for them. The schedules are busy and the workdays long, so it has been fairly tiring with the French language. However, it’s been worth it, I have learnt so many new things. I can thoroughly recommend coming to Brussels for an Exchange period. 🙂

Greetings from Belgium

I’ve been here in Gent for more than two months now, so I guess it’s time to write a little about my exchange. I live in Gent, the biggest student city in Belgium, and study at Arteveldehogeschool.  Artevelde has 9 different campuses and over 13 000 students.

The studies here consist of group projects and individual assignments as well as lectures, so it’s pretty similar to the education system in Finland. However, most of my group assignments are short reports and power point presentations so in that sense I have had to put way less effort in my studies here than in TAMK, even though many of my class mates complain about having too many assignments to do.

Since Artevelde is relatively big school it’s no surprise that there is about 125 exchange students from all over the world, not just from Europe.

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One of Artevelde’s nine campuses

 

 

On my spare time I do basically the same stuff as I would do in Finland, which is going to the gym, running and hanging out with my friends. Gent has quite a few nice pubs where we often meet up with other exchange students, drink Belgian beer and play drinking games. Many clubs here stay open basically all night and, even though Thursday is the official student night, every night is a going out night here, so for the ones who enjoy a lot of partying there certainly is something happening every evening of the week.

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Student kick-off in the beginning of the school year

 

 

And of course, I have traveled quite a bit during my stay here, since it’s relatively easy and cheap to visit neighboring countries. So far I’ve been so Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge, London and Manchester. Next trip will be to Hamburg and I hope to still have time to visit at least Paris.

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Hello from Brussels!

Brussels is my home for 2 more months, time has flown by incredibly fast since I got here in September. It’s actually my second Erasmus so a lot is familiar but there’s also a bunch of new things. In this blog post you will discover a bit of my life in the country of chocolate, beer, waffles and frites 🙂
brussels

Coming to do a part of my social work degree here in Belgium was something really exciting. Beforehand I knew that my host institution called ISFSC was quite small but never did I expect to be practically the only Erasmus student! In addition, finding courses corresponding to the ones at Tamk forced me to select studies from all the three years. On the other words I was circulating between groups of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students and seeing hundreds of new faces during my first weeks – overwhelming. Also the fact that everything is in French makes things much more challenging. It’s really a total immersion to the local student culture!

The way of studying is pretty similar as at Tamk with a lot of group works and some seminars. I was afraid of mass lectures where the teachers don’t interact with students but luckily it’s not that way and most of the courses are very interesting. The teacher prepares his course material, syllabus, on which the exams are mostly based and which you get printed so no need to worry about availability of course books. Having also oral exams is something new for me.

kaakao
On Tuesdays it’s time for board games at Salon de thé Liber, such a lovely and cozy place.

After living in France, it was fascinating to notice the differences between the culture and French spoken in these two countries. As a country Belgium feels somehow a bit more “Nordic”, for the language it seems to be mostly the matter of some few words and ways of pronunciation. In addition, its multilingualism, history and complex regime make Belgium a truly interesting place to get a closer look at. By the way, it’s not clear whether French fries are actually French or Belgian: one story speaks of American soldiers who came to Belgium during war time, saw the locals making fries and named the dish after the language. In any case, it must be said that I haven’t eaten as delicious fries anywhere else!  Some other Belgian things: Tintin, Smurffs and Lucky Luke – which you can discover at the Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

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Historical Brugge is beutiful even on a cloudy and grey day

Brussels is an extremely international city, not too big but with a lot of things to do. The longer I stay here the more I seem to like it 🙂 And Belgium is a small country to travel around – this is very convenient for somebody doing Erasmus as it means a possibility to see not only other Belgian cities but also some neighboring countries. I’m often busy planning new weekend trips and only hoping that the time wouldn’t run out!

Greetings from Belgium

I was just looking at my calender and I was little surprised. I have already been here for one month and two weeks.  I’m staying in small city called Bruges which is also the capital of Flemish region. You may know the film called ”In the Bruges” starring by Collin Farrel. It was filmed here. Time surely flies while eating BELGIAN fries and drinking local beers. Our school started in a rather pleasant way. We traveled around Flemish cities and our school covered all the costs. We saw Gent, Antwerpen, Kortrik and of course Brussels.p11108322

p1110858After the extraordinary warm holiday week it was time to start the work. Our school is catholic and you could say it has rather strict policies. In Finland I can call teachers by nickname but here it would cause bewilderment and not in the positive way. In the most cases you should say ”Sir” or ”Ma’am” but for exchange students they are not so rigorous about it. Being late isn’t tolerated either and major part of the classes are mandatory.

All the classes I have chosen are very nice! All the subjects are very different from each other and topics are interesting. We have courses only with Erasmus-students since there aren’t english programs for Belgian students. It’s nice to have a small group to work with. We are having lots of presentations and they are playing a big part in our assessment. In some classes we also have group projects. All most every class has an oral exam which is something completely new for me.p1120366

When I have some free time I have been travelling around. First we went to Netherlands. We visited Rotterdam, Delft and De Haag. On following weekend I went for a small bike trip to see small villages near Bruges. I went alone since everyone else was having a terrible hangover. Sometimes it’s good to stay away from Belgian beers since they are quite strong. Last weekend we did more extreme bike trip. We cycled from Bruges to France. To be more precise to Lille where we stayed a night in a tent. Next morning we woke up at dawn and cycled to see Yper. There is a very nice museum about the first world war which I recommend to visit. After that we headed to home. All together we made about 170 kilometer by our city bikes. We’re going to have a autumn holiday in few weeks and I’m still figuring out whether I should stay here or visit somewhere.p1120328p1120426

-Jussi