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Europe

The Belgium Experience | Christian Ying

The Grand Place

The Grand Place

Living in Brussels, Belgium has been an eye-opening experience thus far. I am studying at Vesalius College (VeCo). It is a very small undergraduate college with only 300 students. It is located on the Vrije Universiteit Brussel campus, a Dutch speaking university. Many of the students that attend VeCo are from Belgium, have at least one parent from America and English is their second language. It is a liberal arts college but I am part of the study abroad program: CIEE- Business, Communication and Culture program so I am taking, International Marketing, International Finance, French 1, a Belgium Experience course, and interning at Management Centre Europe. My internship is part of the CIEE curriculum and is optional. (I am not receiving credit for the internship.)

During my Belgium Experience class we learn about Belgian history, national identity, founding myths and reality, culture, food, politics, the economy, religion vs. state, Brussels as a capital city, colonies and migrants, international relations, and Belgium as a host country of international institutions.

Cinquantenaire Arch

Cinquantenaire Arch

This week we talked about national identity. Belgium has many divisions. These divisions are based on social problems, language barriers, history and politics. We mainly debated on Belgium nationalism. Do people who live in Belgium really consider themselves Belgium or do they just refer to their region, (Flanders, Wallonia, or Brussels), or if they just say they are French, Flemish, German etc? We learned that many of the Flanders and Wallonian elites would like to see Belgium separated into different countries,but as a whole, the general population thinks that Belgium should be one nationality. While here, I have noticed that when I ask a person from Belgium where they are from they refer to Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels.  Likewise, when they leave Belgium, they say they are from Belgium and immediately follow with which part.

Belgian Waffles

Belgian Waffles

Brussels has been a very interesting atmosphere to live in. The regular day to day pace of living is slower. No one is in a rush and even when I’m at work people take 3 hours for their lunch break. It has been very hard to adjust after living in DC for 3 years. However, getting around Belgium has been incredibly easy. The public transportation here is amazing and even though there are 3 main languages in Belgium: French, Dutch and German, almost everyone speaks English. This is because of the increase of immigrants over the past 10 years.  Fifteen percent of the population in Belgium are ex-pats who only work in Belgium during the week and leave Belgium on Friday.

Even though I have been traveling all over Europe while here, I have been able to see some amazing Belgium sights!

Christian Ying in Brussels

Christian Ying in Brussels

 

À bientôt,

Christian

Christian Ying is a GWSB Junior, double concentrating in Marketing & International Business.  To learn more about the Business, Communications, and Culture program in Brussels through CIEE, click here

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