Tag Archives: Belgium

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.

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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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Postcard from Oostende

Hello from windy Oostende!

When I first came to Oostende, I liked because its small and next to the coast. There are not so many students so its just you and local peoples. Studying is really independent in here which is actually refreshing. I have finnish roommate and we are only finnish students here. Next city is Brugge, where is couple finnish students. The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. Belgium location is very good for traveling. Sometimes traveling is cheap, sometimes not. We are in flanders area (Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium) so locals don’t usually speak good english.

Couple things what is must to see in Belgium; Tyne Cot commonwealth war graves cemetery, Atlantic wall museum, Brugge and Brussels europarlament.

Tyne cot 1atlantic wall

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Bruges – The Venice of the North

Greetings from Belgium! I have already spend two months in this beautiful city called Bruges. Bruges is located in West-Flanders in Belgium and it is approximately same size as Tampere. The city is known for its medieval architecture and canals, that pass through the city. Who wouldn’t enjoy spending time in this kind of scenery?SAM_4124IMG_20160227_131337IMG_20160130_174038Everything has gone well in school as well. In Bruges I study International business management in Howest University of applied sciences. I have taken four different modules that all consist two courses, but the courses that I have found most interesting have been innovation management and courses related to social media marketing. Like in TAMK, we also have a lot of group assignment in the lessons here. What I like about the lessons is that there is also local students attending the same lessons, so we are not all the time with only international students.

Another good thing about school here is that we have a lot of free time. We just had two weeks long Easter holiday, so I had time to do what I enjoy most; Travel. I have been traveling inside the Belgium. I have visited in Oostende, Ghent, Brussel and Antwerp. In addition, I have had time to travel some other countries in Europe. Cities I have visited so far are Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Paris, Madrid and Zürich. I still hope I have time to travel few other places before coming back to Finland.

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All in all, I have enjoyed my exchange period so far. I have got so many friends all over the world and learn so much about different cultures!

Greeting from the city of four towers

IMAG0515 IMAG0517Hello everyone! Here in Ghent everything is pretty much in order. Days go by quickly. For my first three weeks, I have been working in the university hospital with brain lesion patients. Physical therapy here is arranged a bit differently than in Finland. All patients and therapists (at least in my department) are in the same big room. Hospitals facilities and equipment are more than I can imagine.
My free time is mostly spent working with my thesis and other school work. I´ve still had some time to go out with other erasmus students here. I have to say, the beer is pretty good here. A week ago we made a weekend trip to Paris and I´ve made plans to travel to Netherlands in a couple of weeks. I don´t think I have much more to say. I hope everyone is doing ok. See you in June!

Best regards,

Taneli Rimpiläinen

Hoi! How to survive in the dutch part of Belgium!

I arrive in Brussels more or less a month ago ready to start my erasmus exchange in Genk. I visited Brussels two years ago for the first time and got enchanted by the beautiful architecture, the food and the friendly Belgians!

The Grote Markt in Brussels
The Grote Markt Grand Plaza in Brussels

My exchange program is based on Media and Communication subjects including as well studies in Game interfaces and Play mobile. Last week we had a game day in Brussels, we got to play what they called a social interactive urban game in the city center.

The game is based on the story of Freddy, who is a happy gnome that lives in Brussels. He will bring you to the most exciting places around the city where you have to complete quests and challenges in order to get points. So as a newcomer you get a cellphone with a gps and a map, you have to find the locations within the time limit and shoot your opponents!

Our team photo!
Our team photo!
Our gift to the Gnome. (tiny shoes)
Our gift to the Gnome. (tiny shoes)
Play Mobile group from Luca school of arts
Play Mobile group from Luca school of arts

 

Location in Belgium
Location in Belgium

Genk is the city where my school is located.  It is an hour away from Brussels but really close to the border with Netherlands, which makes it accesible for travelling between the countries.

 

 

 

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

Train ride view
Train ride view

Genk was known for it’s mines 40 years ago, but then they closed and the city had to changed their most known landmark. My campus is located in one of the mine areas, and to this day you can still see the enormous mine towers that use to be active during the mining work.

C-mine Campus
C-mine Campus
View from the inside of C-mine.
View from the inside of C-mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belgium is known also because of the good beers, waffles and fries! And there’s no lie in the rumours, that is all truth! Here is the proof!

Just another waffle
Just another waffle