Tag Archives: Belgium

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 at the end, and it’s been really great time!

I’ve worked in three “stages de kiné” (internships of physiotherapy). The first stage was in orthopedics, the next in an intensive care unit and the last one in a trauma rehabilitation centre. All have been interesting places and I have got a lot of experience from many different fields of physiotherapy.

As a city I just love Brussels! It’s a very lively and vibrant, international environment, with an air of a smaller town. What surprised me was the beauty: very pretty old buildings and nice parks all around. There’s always something interesting going on, such as festivals, dancing, concerts, museums etc. Also I’ve 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 exchange. 🙂

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 🙂
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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.

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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

Waffels with sandstorms

Greetings from Belgium

When I was in Belgium or in other countries during my Erasmus, people kept asking why I chose Belgium. I think that most of time I had different answer for everyone, but nro 1 answer were that I wanted to get to know what kind of country is the capital country of EU. Also Belgium was a sole country which I hadn’t clue about at all, what kind of people there lives, what they usually eat etc.

After a few weeks I noticed that Belgium doesn’t different too much from Finland. Inhabitants looks little bit like Finns and both are really shy with meeting new people. My university is called Hogeschool VIVES Oostende and there is only students which study sciences and technology like electricians like me. Teaching methods in Belgium were so similar to Finland that sometimes I felt like I am in Finland except teaching was conducted in English.

Traditional foods in Belgium are waffles, beers, mussels and French fries. You can really find fries joint at almost in every corner in the big cities. Fries, fries and fries everywhere, I don’t really know could I eat them anymore. Waffles were really cheap and tasty and must to have if you like sweets like that. My favorite was waffle with strawberries and chocolate.

After all Belgium was good country to live, because price level in markets wasn’t too high and travelling possibilities were way too good when comparing to Finland. Weather in Belgium is really something what you can’t prepare in advance, because it changes like every 15 min and at near coast line wind is really strong. Sandstorms at Oostende is almost everyday thing.

Groeten van Mechelen

Hello from Belgium! I’ve been living here for four months now and I only have a few days left. Mechelen is a quite small city 15 minutes away from Brussels and Antwerp, and I’ve really enjoyed living here, although the Dutch language is not really my favorite.

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Grote Markt Brussels

I’m studying in Thomas More Mechelen in business department and my courses have been about HR and management. Studying in Belgium is not that different from Finland and people in Flanders (the flemish speaking area) speak very good English.

These months have been full of experiences and I have grown and became even more independent, since living alone abroad is definitely not as easy and pleasant as you would think. Belgium is even more bureaucratic country than Finland, and even all the simple things are made difficult. Also the bomb threats and terrorist attacks close to where I live and soldiers guarding in everywhere have made my exchange somewhat interesting and not in a good way. Mostly all the experiences have been positive though. I’ve had a chance to travel a lot around the Europe, I’ve met so many amazing people from different countries and made friends for life.

Going to an exchange was the best decision of my life, and now I will enjoy my last days before heading back home.

Coucou, tout le monde!

 

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Bonjour, it’s Emma speaking. Physiotherapy student doing a three-month practical training in Brussels. So far, my stay here has been interesting. There have been different kind of moments, very good ones but sadly very bad ones as well. However, altogether I am more than happy to be here right now.

During the past two months, I’ve done two different internships and still have a third one to come. My first internship was in a local universital hospital in cardio-vascular service. I learned a lot of different kind of heart operations and had the opportunity to go follow a heart surgery. That was an experience that I won’t forget. Second internship was in a neurological rehabilitation centre for post-traumatic patients. It is probably the rehabilitation centre where the victims of the terrorist attack in Brussels will go to recover. Rehabilitation was very intense, most of the patients had physiotherapy sessions from two to four times a day. In both internships I’ve got a lot of responsability and worked independently. This was nice, but I would have wanted to get more feedback on my physiotherapy treatments.

Here in Brussels I work in French. I have studied French for a bit more than three years, and my language skills are far from perfect. I struggle a lot, but it’s getting easier all the time. Most of the locals are understanding and can speak a bit slower if needed, or even translate the most difficult words in English. Several locals have told me that compared to France, here it is much easier to learn French, as the locals are used to the multiculturalism and do not judge you for not speaking the language perfectly.

During my spare time I have got to know Brussels, spent time with my international friends, done sports and enjoyed the waffels and speculoos! I’ve also discovered seven other citys and villages in Belgium, the smaller towns are gorgeous. From here it is also very easy and quite affordable to visit almost the whole Europe. I know I will go to Amsterdam, but after this exchange I’ve got some quite big travelling plans outside Europe, so I need to careful not to overspend my money.

For me, Brussels seems safe and peaceful, even after the tragedy on 22th March. That day was devastating, as the attacks occured close to where I live. Few days after the atmosphere in the city was clearly different, sad but also defiant. Belgian flags hung from every other window and people carried on living their normal lives. The local university offered crisis support for those who needed it. The fact that I had already started to feel like home here before the attacks was probably one of the reasons I seemed to recover from the shock so quickly.

All in all, my stay here has been successful. Belgium has impressed me and I certainly will come back one day.

Emma

Life in Brygge, Belgium

Greetings from Brugge!

I have been studying in Brugge, Belgium now three months and I have only 7 weeks to go. In Finland I study hospitality management and here in Brugge I am joining the business class. I have learned something about different leadership styles, international strategic management, intercultural awareness and comparative constitutional law for example.

Not all the courses here are actually my piece of cake or cup of tea but at least I have had a chance to learn some new skills what I can not learn in Finland. Studying seems to be a bit harder here than in my home university college in Finland sometimes. The most important things I have learned are the differences between the cultures. Especially the differences in communication. People from Finland are mostly direct with what we say and that might be shocking for somebody from the southern Europe. That is something you can not learn in your  home university. My eyes has opened by many new things.

What are the things I like the most during my exchange in Belgium?  Obviously I have enjoyed the things Belgium is famous about, like all the nice beers, the chocolates and the waffels. Belgium is a small country and the distances are short, so it is easy to travel to other cities and to see new places.  Brugge is a romantic small city and the coast is only 20 km far from my city.  But for me the best thing in Belgium is the perfect location in the Europe. I love travelling and it has been so much easier and cheaper to take a flight from Brussels than from Helsinki to other cities in the Europe. I visited already Copenhagen, London, Luxemburg, Paris and Berlin. I still have a bit time left and a few euros in my wallet so maybe I still have a chance to see some places I have never seen.

-Niina

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