Maria Koenen at Lessius Hogeschool Antwerpen, Belgium

How to get abroad

How did I get to be an Erasmus student in Antwerp? First of all, the organisation for my Erasmus semester was very easy. An application, a few emails to write, good support from everybody and then I was nearly there.

Moving to Antwerp

Looking for a room in Antwerp was a little bit difficult at the beginning (do not start too late because the Hogeschool does not have student accommodation). Very helpful is the websites but if you check it too late all the flats and rooms are already fully booked. There is a fixed date from where on you can have a login and from where, for example, the rooms from Antwerp students who also do Erasmus are available. Taking these rooms is a very good choice in my opinion.

At the end I found my room through the help of Vanessa Geers, the coordinator of the program in Antwerp, who gave the contact details of my landlord to me. I lived in a shared house right in the centre of Antwerp with eight other students. We were five Erasmus students and four Flemish and Dutch students. (To get the details of my Landlord please get in touch with me.) My flat was a three minutes walk away from the Hogeschool, which was very great.

Life in Belgium

Antwerp is a very nice city, which is around 40 minutes away from Brussels by train. Antwerp lies in the Flemish part of Belgium, so people there speak Flemish/Dutch. Antwerp is famous for its harbour, which is one of the biggest in the world and the second biggest of Europe. It is also famous for its chocolate, its fries and its various different kinds of beers. Antwerp has a very beautiful old part of the town, right in the city centre and a lot of museums. Antwerp has one of the biggest exchanges for diamantes. Antwerp has also a very good position in Europe. We made a lot of daytrips for example to Brussels or to Amsterdam which is only two hours away. We also made trips to other towns near by (Ostend or Gent) or cities a little bit more far away like Paris or London.

Intensive Language Course

I started my time in Antwerp at the beginning of September with a three weeks intensive language class of Dutch (in Belgium it is of course Flemish). The course was held everyday for four hours and we also did two excursions. The course was a very good opportunity to learn the language of the country even with all my other classes during the semester being in English and to meet the other Erasmus students. Not all of the others from the course studied the same as me so it was good to meet some people who did something else. The course continued during the semester with three hours per week.

Studying at the Hogeschool

My courses of European Business Studies started at the end of September. I had chosen five courses out of twelve from the course catalogue. I chose the three compulsory courses and two optional courses in order to receive a certificate at the end. All important information about the courses, the stay and so on are on the website of the Hogeschool. The courses are held in English and the teachers all spoke very clear and understandable English so the language was not really a problem.

The European Business Studies are (with one exception) only for Erasmus students and around 35 students from all over Europe took part. Like this, the course was very lively and in subjects like European Politics or European Law we had always interesting discussions and we had always experts from different countries to answer questions. We also visited the European Parliament and the European Commission in Brussels. For me the courses were very interesting. I also chose a course, International Corporate Strategy, which focused on International Business. All in all I had courses in Antwerp which I would not have in Germany and therefore it was really about doing something different.

Student life in Antwerp

Antwerp has an Erasmus Student Network. It is organised by Belgium students and they offer a lot of things, like an Ice-Breaking-Week with a guided city tour, parties, a pub coral, an international food cooking and a lot more. Also during the semester they organised two trips, one to the Ardennes and one to Paris. They have a pub where they organise a lot of parties during the semester. They write a newsletter and like this it is easy to know if something is going on in Antwerp.

My personal conclusion

All in all I had a very good time in Antwerp. I met so many new interesting people from all over Europe, so travelling will be very easy from now on because there are so many people I have to visit!

My studies at Lessius Hogeschool were doable but not too easy. The focuses there were on the European Union and on International Business which made a good change and gave me a new perspective to my studies in Remagen. I would recommend to everybody to study abroad! Greetings Maria Koenen

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