U bent hier
Studying abroad is quite an adventure. For our international students the start of the academic year is usually a period of mixed feelings. On the one hand it is very exciting to move away from home and meet new people, on the other a lot of things have to be arranged. Entering a new culture can be great fun, but sometimes also frustrating.
Finally, the adventure has begun! Studying in a new country is all about discovering new places, meeting new people and learning new things. Brussels is an exciting place to do this, as it is the cosmopolitan heart of Europe. The variety of cultures, people, squares, parks, bars, monuments, museums, cinemas, theatres and all kinds of cozy corners hold the potential of being a home to anyone. Even for Belgians it takes time to really get to know this intriguing city, though. And soon Belgium and Europe will call for more discoveries.
The other side of the coin is that starting a new life can be frustrating at times. There is a lot of paperwork that needs to get done, which in itself can be a challenge in Belgium. The highlight of this adventure is the registration in the District Town Hall (commonly known as the ‘commune’ from the French word for town hall). Next to that, there is also the search for a perfect student flat and figuring out the practicalities of living a new country. This process usually doesn’t take too long and should be considered as a part of the experience.
From desoriented to settled
Students who have been abroad, especially to a totally different culture, will recognise this pattern to a certain extent. The first days can be overwhelming, especially in a different time zone, climate and culture. It is perfectly normal to feel desoriented, and there is no reason to be worried about this. The first week of your stay will be devoted to a lot of practical stuff to get your life going. Next up are a couple of weeks of getting used to the new environment, getting acquainted with things around you. At this point, you may feel a bit frustrated about getting access to people or the culture, or getting connected to society. This too will pass, and suddenly you will wake up and feel settled. Little frustrations of the first encounter will gradually be replaced by feeling at home in this crazy, little country. And those who miss home can look for the Skype for Business icon, which is now also available for students in the Office 365 mail.
A HELPING HAND
VUB tries to help students with both aspects of this journey: the exciting discovery and the practical quest. The student portal STUDENT.VUB offers some gateways to discover the city, as well as a checklist of what needs to be done on the administrative and operational level. Next to that, the Student Information Hub and the International Relations Office are ready to answer all practical questions and to help in case of a difficult adaptation process. Should you experience a culture shock, please talk about this with somebody at the university.