Belgium was not my first choice
Exchange study is a precious opportunity to explore a new country as you will spend several months living in that new place. In reality, at first, I got accepted to be an exchange student for a university in the UK. Many people asked me why I chose the UK. It’s very simple, I have never been there and I love hearing their accent, also want to practice my English in an English-speaking environment.
Long story short, I had some issues with documents so in the end, I had to choose another place to apply. It was pretty sad, but everything happened for a reason and I am glad that my second decision was even better. I paid more attention to the courses that those partners offered instead of the country itself. Since I was interested in the digital marketing field, HoGent provided many courses that support my major and without hesitation, Belgium was on my list.
HoGent is awesome
I had some friends studying in the Netherlands, sharing the border with Belgium and all of them were struggling with room searching. The accommodation was quite expensive there and not so many options for short-term tenants which made me really worried in the beginning. Fortunately, HoGent arranged a furnished single room in the dormitory for exchange students at a reasonable price so that I could enjoy my semester in Gent at its best. Every room was equipped with a single bed, a table, a chair, a drawer, a wardrobe and a sink. The kitchen and bathrooms were shared by all students on the same floor. Sounds great, right?
Talking about schoolwork, the courses were very diverse, I can get to know about creating a website, doing basic design tasks, learning about Belgian culture and practicing marketing projects. I could work with students from many countries, understand their mindsets and deal with conflicts caused by cultural differences. Honestly, the workload for exchange students was plausible, I was not under pressure all the time because HoGent wanted exchange students to enjoy Belgian beers as well 😉 Some parties were organized at school or in the dormitory to engage students from all over the world coming to Belgium to study. If you concern about anything, the student counselor will reply to your email promptly, therefore, do not hesitate to tell them your issues.
Exchange study also gave me a chance to meet and make friends with students from all over the world. Never would I expect to talk to a random Irish girl at a party when we were both so drunk and somehow we became such close friends till now. Áine was definitely my party partner back then, we had been to almost all the bars and tried so many types of beer that I cannot even count.
I would never, either, imagine that I could meet people from El Salvador, China, Poland, France, Mexico all in one country and make so many wonderful memories together. We gathered during Christmas, cooked traditional food, and shared our childhood story. We usually made jokes about how full our stomachs always were when we celebrated something together. My exchange study experience is such a precious present, with new lessons, laugh, tears and of course, new friends that I treasure for life.
For those who find my experience interesting and want to write your own story, check out this link for exchange application instruction: https://student.karelia.fi/en/internationality/Pages/studentexchange.aspx. In case of further questions, don’t hesitate to contact your student counselor or leave a comment, I would love to give you as much information as I can.