I decided to study abroad at Vesalius College because of its academic and social offerings. Its classes worked well for my Political Science minor and a few of my professors actually worked for the European Union which brought an amazing realness to the class. Vesalius is a mixture of study abroad students and international students so it was great mix- comforting to be around fellow Americans but also very easy to make international friends! The Vesalius Student Government (VSG) does a great job of putting on socials and events for students during school hours and on weekends to relax and socialize. Vesalius College was also conveniently located, a mere ten-minute walk from my apartment!
This study abroad experience was so unique and special because of the people I met and the wonderful city of Brussels. When I chose Brussels many people didn’t even know where it was! It’s such a quirky, unique city and I easily fell in love with everything- the streets, waffles, the friendliness of the people, and even Manneken Pis! Studying abroad without anyone from my home university was also one of my best decisions; I came home with so many good, close friends from all over! You really make strong connections with people when you’re living and traveling with them and exploring new things everyday. Some of us (we called ourselves BRUfam, short for Brussels family) already had a reunion this past January in San Diego, California and we spent half our time just laughing and reminiscing about stories from abroad.
This experience has had a large impact on my future. Before I went abroad I wasn’t sure what my path would be after college or if I was brave or independent enough to venture out to a whole new part of the United States or Europe and live and work there. Now after living and learning in Brussels and traveling all over Europe I have the confidence and determination to go back to Europe to live and work! I loved each culture that I had the opportunity to encounter in every country and city I visited and am itching to go back to Brussels or some other city to truly live for a longer period of time than just a semester. The best place I visited outside of my study abroad city was Krakow, Poland. It was a spur of the moment trip with 6 of my friends and we fell in love with Krakow in 3 days! The city was beautiful, the people so helpful and nice, and the food was amazing (periogis, periogis, periogis!) We took a great free walking tour of the city to see the sights including the Main Market Square, Wawel Castle and Cathedral, and Oskar Schindler’s Factory. We also had a very powerful and somber experience at Auschwitz Concentration camp; a tour that affected each one of us in such an enriching way.
One piece of advice of I would give to a future student is to be as open as you can to new experiences and never stop meeting people! Always talk and socialize in your classes (when the professor isn’t teaching of course) and hang out at Vesalius to study or do work in the lounge because that is a very easy way to forge connections with fellow classmates. Always participate in the student government’s events and socials; one of my best nights in Brussels was at the Spring Formal at the end of the semester. It was held at a roof top bar downtown and we got all dressed up. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the city and my friends! Karly Murphy