ISEP student Amy P., a history and international relations major at Agnes Scott College, spent a year at Vesalius College in Belgium to deepen her understanding of international politics and explore a new culture. During her time abroad, she made a list of the top five reasons why Belgium should be on your study abroad destination list.
1. The food
In Belgium, you can get the amazing Dutch chocolate sprinkles I love, stroopwafels, super fresh fruit, amazing bread and the list goes on and on. The street food is even more delicious. I was able to get a waffle with chocolate and whipped cream and a side of frites (French fries) for only 3 euros – and they were both amazingly delicious!
2. The locals (and your host family)
My host parents were amazing. Laurence was a fantastic cook who always made us interesting and delicious meals for dinner. One night we had ground beef baked in a little boat she made out of zucchini, and it was to die for! Thibault was always making sure I had everything I needed. He always made sure to answer any of my questions. He really was like a father to me. They also have such an adorable baby – little Simon always had a smile ready for me when I saw him.
3. The educational opportunities
I know I am the biggest nerd in the world, but there are so many opportunities to get knowledge here. History and stories are everywhere you look, from the places to the people. My classes were fantastic and my professors were amazing! I earned an undergraduate certificate in European Peace and Security Studies, so all of my classes are exactly what I’m interested in and exactly what my professors specialize in.
There are also opportunities outside of the classroom. I went to a think tank to hear a debate on privacy and security in response to the current issues of Edward Snowden and the NSA. I also went to a lecture given by NATO’s leading representative on issues in Syria. It is really wonderful to be able to do all of these things outside of the classroom, and Belgium afforded me that opportunity.
4. The international community
You can definitely tell that Brussels is an international community. I never knew what language the person next to me on the bus was going to speak. I had people in my classes from Germany, Italy, Turkey, Iran and many other places. Almost everything is written in French, Dutch, English or German. Even the little boy I lived with was being introduced to multiculturalism early. Even though their family speaks French, the nursery he goes to is in Dutch, and his parents did that intentionally so that he would be exposed to it from an early age.
5. The friends you will make
I made some amazing friends in Belgium. We went to movies, visited street markets and had a great time exploring the city together. We also traveled outside of Belgium to places like Amsterdam and more.
Want to know more about the rest of Amy’s adventures? Check out her blog, or if you want to discover your five favorite things in Brussels — learn more about studying abroad at Vesalius College on the ISEP website.
An earlier version of this post was originally shared January 29, 2014.