The Belgium Diaries: In-Class

Jamie Sterling - pic1 new

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

It’s now the fourth week into my semester at Artevelde. I can hardly believe I’ve been here that long! Of course, the time is passing quickly because it’s still new and fun but my irregular schedule makes it difficult to notice the time going. I never have a routine.

The timetable is one thing that’s really different from home. For the first six weeks I only have three classes. Then, after we break for Easter, two of my classes end, one has a shorter time block and three more classes begin.

It’s confusing.

On top of that, all the classes are for different lengths of time—some are for four weeks, some are for six and some are for the whole semester. They also range from one and a half to four hours long!

It doesn’t end there, the timetable can change weekly and it’s never final. A class that’s normally on Monday can have an additional session scheduled any other day of the week. Classrooms sometimes differ from week to week and guest lecturers can be added at any time.

For me, it’s strange. Yet, when I mentioned our fixed timetables at Seneca to a Finnish friend she thought it was really weird and she wouldn’t like it.

The cultural differences are endlessly fascinating.

That’s something that makes this program so special. I’m studying a module that has been specifically designed for foreign exchange students. We were able to choose from a select number of courses offered as part of the module and we only have them with each other. It makes meeting and learning about new people really easy. Whether from Turkey, Finland, Estonia, Romania, Germany or Canada, we’re all in the same boat.

It also makes for some really great class discussions.

On one of my first days we were defining the lines between public relations, marketing and corporate communications. I knew there exists a lot of overlap among the terms but what I took away from the discussion was just how much, or how little, overlap could be interpreted based on our different geographical and educational backgrounds. We were tackling the concept from a global perspective to come to a collective understanding not only of the terms in question but also of their place in our respective parts of the world.

Many classes tend towards these multi-cultural discussions and for me the information exchange is priceless. It’s like a two-for-one education and a big reason I chose to do a semester abroad. I’m nothing short of loving it.

Away from school I’m also using my time constructively. I’ve started teaching myself Dutch, the root language of Flemish. I’m exploring different parts of the city and the country. I’m visiting museums and trying as many new things as I can find.

In short, I’m learning a lot outside of class, too. I’ll save that for the next post!

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