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 to read more.

12 thoughts on “The Belgium Diaries!

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