Tag Archives: Belgium

Hello from Buges, Belgium

I got to spend my exchange in Bruges Belgium. And I was in luck to have that time before the pandemic. I actually didn’t have any other beside Belgium, because the teachers visited in our school and told about Vives university and I liked it. I applied and it was actually pretty easy to get in there. I was the only Finnish person in there.

I was in study exchange so most of my weekdays went at school, studying. I study hospitality and management but there it was mainly business and we also had some basic knownledge about Belgium itself.

Spare time went by with exploring Bruges, tasting beers and eating. A lot of fries with good sauces, clams, different waffles and of course beer. My favorites!

And longer weekends and holidays by visiting other cities. Bruges was so beautiful city!

 

 

Greetings from Bruges

When I first walked in the Bruges city center I was enchanted. The architecture of the city is medieval and the whole city is like it’s from a fairy tale. Cute buildings, canals,  small shops and the atmosphere of the city is magical.

 

I really enjoyed my time in Bruges. I like the Belgian lifestyle and culture. My school, Vives, was nice, and all the teachers spoke very good English. I had an unprecedented motivation to study and I had some nice people around me. Unfortunately, the corona virus situation messed everything up, and I decided to go back home after spending just 2 months in Belgium. My Erasmus experience continued online, so I got all the credits of this spring.

 

 

Even though Belgians are very punctual, hard working and formal, they know how to enjoy their lives. They are very nice and chill. Even when I was in somebody’s way in the supermarket, or if I had blocked the way with my bike, they just smiled at me and minded their own business. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and I really like that attitude.

I really liked studying in Bruges. The teachers spoke very good English and I attended very interesting courses. I learned a lot about Belgium, Belgium’s history and culture, the EU and European- and International laws.

Belgians are very punctual; they don’t accept delays in School, and you have compulsory attendance in class. If you were  more than 15 minutes late, you were not able to take part in class. If you were absent you needed a doctor’s certificate of it. That’s probably even why I was early at School.

I usually spent my free  time with the other exchange students. I lived in b/kot, which is residence own by Vives, so all the other exchange students lived there too. I lived on the same floor with 7 Spanish girls, so there was noise and action all day and all night, and they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to club every night. Regardless, I still loved their company.

 

 

 

 

I went to the gym and jogging weekly. I also did Hot Yoga, when my schedule matched with the yoga studio. We also spent time in the pubs, played pool and tasted Belgian beers. Sometimes I went to the club with my Spanish friends. There is also some good cafées in Bruges, and there is a place that serves the best turmeric latte in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In normal circumstances Belgium is a good country to see western Europe, because everything is so close. Me and my friends went to Amsterdam, before corona hit.

 

Vibrant, beautiful Ghent

My exchange destination is not so known place called Ghent. This city of Belgium is the second largest in Flanders community and ranking third in the whole Belgium after Brussels and Antwerp. I studied international business management during the autumn semester in this beautiful city full of history, stories, colorful streets, and delicacies.

Bikes are a huge thing in Ghent. They are everywhere. I have around three kilometers to the campus, so I rented one as well. Locals said that when you have a bike, you are “the king of the streets”. And that was surely it. There are specifically marked bike streets meaning that cars are not allowed to pass. Having a bike makes moving easy – you can pass the traffic jams, you do not have to wait buses or trams and you save money. It is also environmentally better option than a car. The central area is a low emission zone and restricted to cars – mainly taxes are driving there. Therefore, most of the students and inhabitants have their own or rented bikes. I really like the biking culture and got keen on my bike. Now that I had to return it, I felt kind of that something important is missing.

Ghent is truly a student city in Belgium. There are student activities almost every week and a bar street located near the campus. I spent my spare time as a typical exchange student – travelling, hanging out with other students, roaming around and of course by exploring the food and drink culture. The location is great. You can book a trip to Amsterdam, Paris or some other city just the night before at affordable prices.

When it comes to the studying itself and group works which we have a lot, Belgian students are not that motivated or hard working. The lack of motivation might be explained partly by the fact that they do not have to take entrance examination so everyone can attend school. Power distance and school environment are quite different than in Finland; disputes are not that welcomed, and breaks are shorter. Also, the eating habits are different as students are having chocolate bars, candies or waffles for lunch. The canteen is serving lunch only for couple hours with poor selection and the other campus only have a machine that offers sweets and some sandwiches. So, for me it was quite a surprise and made me to appreciate more the canteen in TAMK. I went home to eat during the gaps which was not a bad thing at all as I got fresh air and exercise.

     

Student life in Belgium

I have been studying in Belgium, Ghent about 4 months now, so I feel pretty familiar with all the different practicalities. I’m studying international business management in Artevelde University College and I’m living in a Upkot dormitory organized by my school. The distance between my dorm and school is about 3km so I go to school by bike. Ghent is a big bike city so it made sense to rent one.

The school system in Artevelde differs quite a lot compared to TAMK. The education is much more theoretical and focusing less on practicalities. During the lessons students are expected to make notes and raise their hand if they have something to say. Teachers don’t really like to be questioned or “challenged”. Studying from the book or from the lesson slides is the best way to succeed in exams. Also, most local students are aged between 19-20 since they start higher education immediately without gap years. This was quite a surprise to me. Even though the education is more theoretical we have had team works as well. Also here in Artevelde, we have had a lot of small tests before the final course exam.

I have traveled a lot during my spare time. Belgium is a relatively small country, so it is really easy and (usually) cheap to travel to other countries. Trains and buses are the most common modes of transportation. If i don’t have time to travel, I usually hang out with other exchange students. Ghent is a big student city, so there are a lot of students. Also, local Erasmus student organization has organized many different activities. My daily routines include going to the gym, studying and meeting friends. There are also days that I just have to focus on school works.

It only takes around 3 hours and 12-14e by bus to travel from Ghent to Paris!

Greetings from Antwerp!

Hello!

My Antwerp journey started in the last weeks of January 2019, and my exchange is about 5 month long. My expectations from Antwerp were little, since I knew nothing about this city nor Belgium as a country. I was very pleasantly surprised on how nice people are on the streets, and how in a way everything is kinda similar compared to Finland. My school here is AP university, which actually is a bit tougher than I anticipated. We have a lot of work. A lot. Gladly they are done in teams, which takes the load off my back a bit. Even though the studies are tough, I’ve enjoyed the vast selection of very very very good beers.

On my spare time we hangout with other exchange students, usually in bars, go out, do sports and just stroll around the city. I would say one can’t experience Antwerp only during a holiday. The real thing is to live here to actually and truly experience it.

Our exchange student organisation is gladly hosting different kinds of events, ranging from museum visits to pub crawls. I can’t tell much of the museum meets, but the pub crawls were fun! They also hosted a beer pong tournament which me and my team almost won. 😉

If you ever want to visit a very nice city with lovely street architecture and good vibes, you need to come to Antwerp.

city centre

Groeten uit België!

Greetings from Antwerp, Belgium!

My exchange in Belgium began at the end of January and is now coming to an end.

I studied business management at Artesis Plantijn at the Meistraat campus right next to the famous shopping street of Meir and also very closeby to the central railway station of Antwerp. I had courses in marketing, finance and environmental management. Studying in Belgium is definitely more demanding than in Finland, but it was all worth it as the subjects were mostly very interesting and useful for me. For example the course of content marketing is something I can implement right away in my current job.

As courses were more demanding, I did spend a good chunk of my spare time studying, too. However, I did have time for fun things as well! Sometimes we would go shopping and to have coffee with my friends, other times I would be going to different kinds of events. For example, I went to a chocolate fair in Brussels (the dress in the picture is made of chocolate!) and to Ru Paul’s drag show. I participated in a few workshops related to coding that I had found through Facebook. It was fun, as coding is something totally new to me but it interests me a lot. I also visited the Tutankhamon exposition in Paris, which was absolutely spectacular. I would totally recommend going to see it if you get the chance – it’s extended until September of this year!

I feel like students are quite relaxed in Belgium – which really is curious as teachers can be a lot more strict and courses a lot more extensive. It was not uncommon that students came to class somewhat unprepared, even if there was a presentation for example. Of course it was not the case for all students but this laid-back attitude was a lot more common there than in Finland. A lot of times, my fellow Erasmus students and I were more stressed over assignments and such than the local students appeared to be. The “hierarchy” between students and teachers was also more noticeable in Belgium than in Finland, which is not necessarily a bad thing but just something that I noticed.

Overall, my time in Belgium has been nice. I believe Antwerp has a lot to offer for students. It’s a  nice city with a nice mix of different cultures and generally very friendly people.

Tot ziens!

P.S. Sorry that my card is arriving a bit late! The Finnish postal system is not always the fastest… 😉 

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.