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.
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.
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.
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.