- Study Abroad
- Volunteer Abroad
- Teach Abroad
- Intern Abroad
- High School
- Gap Year
ISA in Brussels, Belgium
Daniel Weinshenker studied abroad with ISA in Brussels in fall 2012. He is from New Jersey and is a senior at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ). He's majoring in International Business and minoring in Spanish and Economics.
What did ISA do for you and what did you need to do on your own?
Daniel: ISA did a lot for me; in a way they thought of things before I even realized that I had to. Even before I left, I was walked through the visa process and given literature about adjusting to my new environment. When I arrived, my apartment was already furnished for me and I had a metro card waiting. Another great resource that I was immediately given was maps of the city and its cultural locations. I was transplanted and given all of the resources to explore. The few things I needed to do on my own was find a grocery store and get my residency card. And even these small tasks were extremely manageable.
Describe your program socially and academically.
Daniel: My host university, Vesalius College, was very small and each semester there is a large percentage of students who are just visiting. Because of this the permanent students are extremely welcoming and eager to make friends with those who are just studying abroad. The first week there were pub-crawls and tours throughout the city that were arranged by the student government. This made it extremely easy to make friends and get to know the city with peers who live there. During my semester, there were 34 ISA students. ISA had excursions and dinners throughout the semester, and this fostered a community feel within our already close-knit school. Academically our program was challenging, however very manageable, even with extensive traveling. I was able to take both Dutch and French and explore two unique languages in a city where they are both natively spoken.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Daniel: Brussels has a few really great culinary staples. The big three are beer, fries (frites), and waffles. Belgium is home to some of the world's best breweries; beer is less expensive than water and better. One of my favorite memories was during Brussels' beer fest. The entire city shutdown from a Thursday to a Sunday and there were tents set up, similarly to Oktoberfest. This was such a great way to experience the city.
Belgium not only invented French fries but also still has the best fries to this day. There are fries stands all over the city where you can buy giant cones of fries for under 2 euros and you get to pick from hundreds of great sauces to add extra flavor. Lastly, Belgian Waffles are called that for a reason, which is because the Belgians have really perfected it. Just imagine soft doughy waffles covered in powder sugar with chocolate and nutella. It is one of the most delicious things to ever eat.
Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?
Daniel: While abroad I did not buy that many souvenirs, however I did start a postcard and map collection as a way to remember all of the places that I visited. My favorite postcard that I bought was one in downtown Doha, Qatar. While abroad, I was given an amazing opportunity to attend a UN conference with other Belgian students in Qatar. This was a part of the world that I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to and I applied to attend on a whim and was accepted. I loved this chance to explore a completely different region of the world with a brand new group of peers and now I have a unique postcard to add to my collection to always remind me of this trip.
Where was your best photo taken?
Daniel: The best photo from studying abroad was taken at the end of my trip. After my semester of school ended, five of my best friends from the United States visited me abroad and we spent the holidays with my aunt and uncle in the Netherlands. All 10 of us took a great 'family' photo in front of their fireplace on Christmas day. Because this photo was done at the end of my trip I feel like it really embodies my entire experience abroad and just how much fun I truly had.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium?
Grant: I decided to study abroad with ISA in Brussels because of the program's potential for my academic and professional development. I was an international relations major and I really wanted to study and work in a city that was cosmopolitan and international. Brussels was virtually the perfect city for this, and the ISA program looked like it had the combination of classes, recreation, and professional opportunity that I was looking for.
For example, the program offered some fascinating politics classes, like Immigration in the EU and the Dynamics of Democracy, which had a lot of appeal for me. Furthermore, there was the possibility that I could have an internship at a governmental or non-governmental organization while I was there, so I jumped at the opportunity.
GO: What made studying in Belgium a unique and special experience?
Grant: My time in Belgium was really memorable, and the are a few main reasons for the great experience. Firstly, the staff at ISA was tremendously helpful; the director and her assistant were courteous, sincere, and personable to me, especially when I had any problems with my classes or my internship.
For example, I was going on an end-of-the-program trip to Paris but I needed to submit my final internship report to a faculty member I'd never met in person. I remember frantically walking to the campus with a train to catch in an hour, without a clue of where the faculty member's office was. But the director offered to find the office and turn in the report before the deadline. If I hadn't received her help, I would have been a goner!
The recreational aspect of ISA was also great. ISA took us on excursions all over Belgium--we went to Ghent, Antwerp, The Hague, Liege, Bruges, and all around Brussels too. Each city was a cultural gem in its own right. The trips were distinctly relaxed and the ISA staff made for good company.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Grant: The program opened up the world of non-governmental organizations to me and really got me interested in doing development work. I had an internship with a small NGO working with EU development projects and my crowning achievement was writing the longest report of my life! Additionally, I learned a great deal about the EU that I hadn't been exposed to at university. I certainly gained academic and professional respect for EU's political institutions.
ISA distinguishes itself as a study abroad provider by its commitment to each individual student. ISA services are available to students, parents, faculty and advisers throughout the study abroad process. In addition to the ISA team in the U.S., ISA offers study abroad students constant support through resident directors available in study abroad locations globally.
Everyone at ISA is proud to be a part of offering a high quality study abroad experience to American and Canadian college students at an affordable price. We recognize that we play an important role in the worldwide effort of international educators to increase awareness of cultures and societies outside of each student's national boundaries. Our programs are designed to maximize our participants' learning abroad, and we understand that most college students need support and expert guidance before, during and after their time abroad.