The Belgium Diaries!

Jamie Sterling - pic1 new

Author: Jamie Sterling
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Ghent, Belgium

With the Fall semester ending at Seneca, most students are settling into holiday mode and resting themselves before the winter semester ahead. This is especially true in my intensive postgraduate program – Public Relations – Corporate Communications.

However this is not true for me. Instead of settling down, I’m getting ready to move to Ghent, Belgium where I will study the Module in Communication Management at Aretevelde Hogeschool for the spring semester.

Several years ago, I finished my undergraduate degree in English at Carleton University. At the time, I had wanted to study abroad but was afraid to leave for a full year. I worried it would hinder my education and I shied away despite wanting to travel for as long as I can remember. Now, after bravely throwing myself into situations where I have lived, worked and traveled in places all over the world, I know that being in a different country only enhances a person’s learning experience.

I was attracted to Seneca College in large part for the international opportunities it offered. It’s important to me to get a practical education that recognizes the value of international experience – especially in our increasingly globalized world.

For my program, Seneca has partnerships with schools in France and the Netherlands, in addition to Belgium. This is great for future public relations practitioners. I’ll become familiar with my field from a different perspective while developing valuable life skills, like being adaptable and resourceful. And of course, it will be fun!

So, while my Seneca classmates and friends prepare for the onslaught of papers and group projects, I will not be relaxing until my classes start on February 8. I will be immersed in a different kind of preparation.

Aside from finding the cheapest flight and travel insurance, I will be looking for housing in something called a kot, the local term for a student room. I will be learning key words and phrases in Flemish, a version of Dutch spoken in Belgium’s Flanders region. I will be researching the culture and the ancient city of Ghent, the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province that was once among the richest cities of northern Europe.

Even though I’ve lived abroad in England and South Korea, I’m still nervous. I have so many unanswered questions. While some are typical, others come from a distinctly student point of view. Is the university culture similar to Canada? How does Europe’s work-life balance really work? How common are English-speakers? These are just a few.

It will be an interesting semester to say the least. I will be publishing blog posts regularly to tell about my experience, what I am learning, and if my questions have been answered. Stay tuned by visiting senecaabroad.ca to read more.

Nothing Beats New York!

Alfredo Roman
Author: Alfredo Roman
Program: Aviation Safety Operation
Study Abroad Location: New York – Mile Course

I have always enjoyed traveling to new cities and experiencing different types of cultures and environments. I was immediately on board when I heard about the Mile Program and its benefit of studying while traveling, to receive a credit towards my education.

My favorite aspect of the New York Mile trip was the learning environment. Our tour guide and teachers, gave us the maximum learning experience by planning some outstanding days filled with educational activities. Each day we would do as much as possible and learn all that we absolutely could. The daily schedule was planned to offer maximum learning in one day, while also giving the students time to explore for themselves. In the span of a day, we would learn about the city culture and history. The activities were all carefully chosen; creating plenty of interest and excitement with each place we visited. My favorite activity was when we visited the National Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed the museum since I have a strong admiration for history. It ended up being one of the highlights of my trip.

During my trip, like all travelers, I did experience a few challenges. The heavy traffic in New York made it difficult to maneuver the city, however the taxis could make their way through when nobody else could.  I also found the subway line completely different than the one in Toronto, make it challenging to become familiar with the routes. With the help of icebreaker activities, I was able to develop new friendships within the group that traveled together to New York.  I held a little social in my room nightly and immediately everyone started opening up to one another.

The New York Mile trip was definitely a learning experience and taught me life long lessons such as:  how to socialize in new environments and how to create new lasting friendships. This trip has also given me a new understanding on different religions, cultures as well as languages.

I highly recommend the Mile program to anyone who is interested. I have and will continue to build a rapport with the people I have met on this experience. I will hold onto the lasting memories that could not have been obtained from any textbook or in a classroom environment. Above all, I am thankful for having this opportunity to grow within the Mile program, while being granted a credit towards my studies.