An Incomparable Experience Through Multiple Seasons

Ratings
Overall
9
Academics: 6
Support: 10
Fun: 9
Housing: 10
Safety: 8
Review

I don't know how I can even begin to explain how fabulous my CIEE experience in Belgium was. I'll start with the academics; at Vesalius College, I wasn't ever in a class that was larger than 15 people, which was a huge change from what I was used to at my home university. The classes have a moderate academic rigor, but at the same time I had no issue getting credits to transfer back to my home school. The professors seem to cycle out fairly often, but I have no complaints whatsoever about the quality or the organization of the semester I spent there.

Next up, the support that CIEE provided was out of this world. Aside from having staff there that are more than willing to help you adjust to your new environment, they want to be your friend. They act as such amazing advocates not only academically and culturally but personally as well. I think being in a CIEE program really fostered the group dynamic that developed so quickly during my time in Belgium; through sponsored excursions and classes reserved only for the CIEE group, I was consistently connected to the on-site staff, and developed meaningful relationships with them.

Housing can be different from situation to situation, but I know that just about everyone in my group was totally satisfied with their placement. My homestay was so unexpectedly perfect; I felt spoiled to have such a caring and fun host that cooked amazing food and was always energetic and interested in my European endeavors. All in all, I know that CIEE puts a lot of effort into making strong matches for housing, and it really shows.

Finally, I can speak to the city of Brussels/country of Belgium itself, apart from CIEE. Let me tell you; it is one crazy, unique, enigmatic, wonderful city/country. If you do a quick internet search on Belgium, you'll find that the country is divided in many ways; linguistically, politically, geographically, etc, and the city of Brussels is just as mixed. However, the diversity and differentiation of Brussels is what makes it so compelling. You're consistently surrounded by people speaking many different languages, from many different parts of Europe, all in Brussels for different reasons. The city is versatile, and you'll feel like you're in the ultimate melting pot when you first arrive, which can be scary and totally awesome at the same time. Meanwhile, if it does get to overwhelming, you're in the "center" of Europe and it is beyond easy to travel almost anywhere in Europe you please.

One thing I really loved about Brussels was the greenspace; it has a good number of parks, and a lot of other cool destinations throughout Belgium host great outdoor spaces as well. However, I'm not going to lie to you: don't be disappointed when you can't visit these greenspaces for many months out of the year. The one thing that really got me about Belgium is its weather. I arrived in January, and I kid you not, it was rainy and cloudy almost every day until March. Granted, the city is full of culture and there were plenty of indoor activities to keep me occupied, but beware of the possible seasonal depression you may experience if you arrive during the more wintery times of the year (P.S. it only rains, and hardly ever snows, despite the air feeling like 15 degrees F. You decide if that's a good or a bad thing. Bring your umbrella.)

Then again, the seasonality of Brussels is what I think made me fall in love with it all together. I got to experience a total transformation of a city that already had my heart. Once March hit, it was sunny all the time and I was so excited to soak it up and see my home in a whole new light (literally).

I could go on and on and on about how delightful my experience in Brussels was. The staff, combined with reasonable academics, combined with such a uniquely fantastic location created the mix for a perfect semester.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed
2017
Media
Photos
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