This semester, I have embarked on a new adventure. From now until June, I am studying at the University of Leuven in Belgium. When I came onto campus as a freshman, I knew right from the start that I wanted to spend part of my junior year studying in a different country. After looking at all the various options that Hanover provides in terms of off-campus programs, Belgium seemed to fit the best in terms of what I was looking for in a study abroad experience. Located smack-dab in the center of Europe, you have the opportunity to travel, the university provides a wide variety of classes to choose from, and you get to experience a beautiful mix of various European cultures.
So. I have officially been here for 8 days and I am already discovering plenty of things I appreciate about both Leuven and Hanover. These schools could not be more polar opposite. Hanover pops out of the middle of nowhere in Southern Indiana, while the University of Leuven absorbs the city located just outside of Brussels. Our class sizes normally have no more than 15 students, where as Leuven’s will have at least 100.
In talking to some Belgians, they have explained that it is very unusual to develop any type of relationship with your professor. You go to class once a week for a couple of hours, listen to lecture, and then return home. That’s it. Engaging discussions and conversation are not the norm like they are at Hanover. Today my professor used a microphone to talk to us during lecture so everyone could hear (a crazy concept for me to wrap my mind around). It has taken some time to get used to, but it will be great to say I have adapted to learn in both a small and large classroom environment.
As an International Studies and French double major, Leuven has come to be the perfect place for me to get the most out of my studies. Because Belgium is located in the center of Europe, their lifestyle is this great blend of various European cultures and languages that make a unique experience for anyone visiting and staying. Everywhere you walk, you hear people speaking Dutch, English, French, Flemish (the list goes on and on). You can discover all different types of cuisines, fashion, and people – there’s something new to find around every corner and I love it.
While I’m still working on the transition in living here, I believe there is truly some amazing things to get out of this city. I look forward to all the travels and the knowledge that I gain by attending school in Leuven and can’t wait to see how it helps me grow as an individual.