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Studying abroad


My name is Joost and I'm 17 years old. I live in the centre of Belgium, near Brussels. I have one and a half year of high school to complete, and after that I will be going to college. This would probably be in Brussels, Leuven or Gent (3 nearby cities). However, I changed my mind recently.

I am in a students exchange project in my school. I went to Poland and Slovakia and recieved Polish, Slovakian and Turkish students over here in Belgium. I must say this has been a great experience, and in some aspects a life changing experience. It was very interesting, and a lot of fun!

Now I'm thinking about actually going to study abroad. I wonder if there are any people here who have experience with this. I probably want to do one year of college abroad. I'm looking for an English speaking city. I would prefer the USA. Brittain is too 'close' and would not be such a great experience, and I think the USA differs a lot more from Belgium than Brittain, a difference that I'm looking for. I prefer a bigger city like New York City (this would be my favourite, but there will probably be a lot of others that wanna go aswell, so we'll see), and after that any other major city will do, like DC, Atlanta or Boston, more to the eastcoast. I think my English is good enough for any day to day conversations. Other languages I can speak fluently are Dutch and French. (I don't know if that's a plus in exchange projects?).

So I'm wondering. Is there anyone here that has had the lifetime experience of going to study somewhere far away? Can you share your experience with me? What were the most pleasant things about it and the hardest? Did you miss your friends/family a lot or did you make new ones quickly?

If I can realise this, this will be my first college experience and my first experience of staying abroad for a long time. I'm really motivated and want to do this.
I went abroad for all 4 years of my university education (I'm Malaysia, studied in Australia) and it was an absolute blast. I loved it, I'd do it again, and in fact I might move there permanently. It's a great experience.

The hardest thing about it was ... actually, it wasn't hard at all. I went there with an open mind, remembering that it was a foreign country and even if they speak the same language the slang and habits would be different (e.g. these can be either thongs, flip-flops or sandals depending on your location, Australians say "see you later" when they mean "goodbye", etc), and didn't bother comparing it against where I was from.

I didn't really miss my family, friends or home country either, but I had reasons for being happy to leave, so your experience might be different. Some people get really homesick, some just don't. You never know until you go. A lot of my Malaysian friends there spent a lot of time in Chinatown looking for familiar food - I didn't bother. I went abroad to see new things, not to bring old things with me. The best part for me was the endless series of discoveries - exploring the city, making new friends, that sort of thing.

Speaking of friends, it likely won't be a problem. Make sure to attend orientation, be nice to people and live in a dorm. Voila.

Curiously, one of my best friends in uni was a Belgian who went to high school in the US. Smile

Good luck!
Study abroad is a journey this is a good experience that we can look back on as being life changing. I can’t wait to learn about a new culture, be involved in foreign government, and find out more about myself. We always knew that everyone wanted to study abroad, but since I couldn’t think of a country I didn’t have an interest in going to, I narrowed my options by realizing that the idea of an internship really appealed to me. I love studying comparative politics and understanding the way different governments function, so I was insanely excited when I heard about the opportunity to intern in Ireland’s Parliament. And being surrounded by awesome accents doesn’t hurt. will good luck to your long-way studies in abroad.
I would include Canada as an option. If you go to McGill University, which is super high-standard, you get to experience Canadian French and English at the same time. McGill is English, but Montreal, where it is situated is bilingual with emphasis on English. Montreal is not very far away from New York, and cost of living also much lower. You would then get the benefit of three countries for the price of one. A feeling of France (the people are more French than the French themselves), Canada and the United States. McGill University is also very international, so you will find it interesting from that point of view. People with credentials from McGill University are also well sought after in other countries. Montreal is a great city to live in. It has very interesting people and lots of fun things to do all the time. Alternative would be Toronto University, which is also just a hop away from New York.

If you prefer the United States, the University of North Carolina in Durham, North Carolina has quite a high standard and cost of living not that high.
deanhills wrote:
A feeling of France (the people are more French than the French themselves), Canada and the United States. McGill University is also very international, so you will find it interesting from that point of view.

Thanks for your advice. I will certainly look into it. French is my third language and it might be an occasion to train it aswell.

I looked into some students appartements in NYC. The rates are unaffordable for me, so I might change my mind to a different city. We'll see, still got plenty of time =) The replies I saw until now look very promising. Thanks guys!!!!
I see no more replies Sad Isn't there anyone else that has been studying abroad and want to share his experience? I would love to hear from them.
joostvane wrote:
I see no more replies :( Isn't there anyone else that has been studying abroad and want to share his experience? I would love to hear from them.

I have never studied abroad because I can't afford it and I do not want to take out student loans and go into debt to do it. But, one of my mathematics TAs told me that as an undergrad, he studied in Hungary and that their mathematics department (I don't know which university or which city - but I assume Budapest) was excellent. Although you mentioned that you're looking for an English speaking country... I sort of advise against that. If you're going to immerse yourself in another culture, you might as well go all out and fully immerse yourself. Spanish is an extremely easy language to learn - that leave Spain and most of Central/South America. Peru? Costa Rica?

If you're looking to come to the U.S., see if your school does programs with UCLA. That's located in Los Angeles, California which is sort of a heart of tourism.

Look first to see what countries interest you and then look to see what schools have programs that would benefit you.
One could probably add that there are also other English speaking countries that could be interesting to experience, i.e. Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand is my favourite of the two. Their academic standards are really high. An interesting community to experience would be Christchurch on the North Island of New Zealand, home of the All Blacks rugby team and the University of Canterbury. They cater for international students, and you may find some interesting info at the link below:

The Scholarships are for post-graduate studies, however there is whole host of information for international students, so may provide you with some food for thought.
Thanks for the help guys. I'm looking in the links now, and in the following days. I hope I'll be able to pull this off Smile
joostvane wrote:
Thanks for the help guys. I'm looking in the links now, and in the following days. I hope I'll be able to pull this off Smile
Do you have an idea of where you will be going? Is it going to be New York? Smile
I studied abroad. I lived in London for two months and then Florence for another two, with a host family. It was a big deal for me because I never traveled as a child, and I went to college in a city about four hours from my parents house. Living with a host family in Italy was a great experience, although there was a pretty significant language barrier (I spoke almost no Italian, they spoke almost no English).

Some aspects of it were hard. I didn't get home sick, but I don't always fit right in with people, and making new friends isn't something that comes naturally. I went to both cities with a group of about 15 people, and we were in pretty close quarters. We went to class together, lived together and studied together. The first few weeks were tough because I was constantly wondering if I would spend the entire semester in isolation (not making friends), but I shouldn't have worried because (as it always happens) I made friends, it just took longer than some others. I'm a little shy.

I would do all of it over again. I don't know what I would change.

Yes, some people get home sick (and they get it bad!).
when you went abroad for studying you always missed the person closes to you and your love ones

but it is really good that you will enjoy and you have find time to know some other things from other

country... Surprised
I really wish I had the time to go study aborad when I was in college, but I just couldn't fit it in with my schedule, especially with the crappy planning I did that made me take classes I didn't really need. It's a great opportunity to explore the world, and if you hvae finanicial aid or something like that, even better. Because you get the see the world and other cultures for free, or something close to that. It's a great new perspective, and especially for majors that deal with politics and other cultures, it's almost a necessary part of your education. I mean, what do you tink of an international studies major who has never gone abroad, or has stayed in their own country for their entire life? Not much credibility.
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