Greenheart Travel alumna, Aleeza Zinn, recently returned from studying abroad in Belgium and shares some insights from her experience. Read on to get a glimpse of what her life was like as a student and how she has grown from her time overseas.
Q: As an exchange student in Belgium, how did you work to improve your French language skills?
I really focused on improving my listening skills when I first arrived in Belgium by paying close attention during classes. I had to make a conscious effort to remain extremely focused in order to understand what the teacher was presenting.
Q: What were the biggest challenges as an exchange student?
Initially, speaking French was the biggest challenge. In addition, the public transportation system was a bit intimidating at first, but as I became more comfortable I really began to enjoy it.
Q: How did you immerse yourself in the Belgian culture?
My host family was great and provided the opportunity to do things many exchange students wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to do.
Q: What are some things you felt more connected to Belgium culture to than U.S.?
In the United States, students often focus on their attention on their phones rather than engaging in the conversation with their friends. In Belgium, phone use felt more respectful.
Q: What will you incorporate back into your U.S. lifestyle?
I ran a race for the first time in my life in Belgium and have already signed up for two races back in the United States. I hope to continue running and to travel and be more active – to go places I haven’t explored in my home town.
Q: What’s next?
I see myself traveling in the future, and specifically to study abroad while in college.
Q: What do you wish you had known before studying in Belgium and do you have any advice for future students?
I could have packed more strategically and packed far too many short sleeved shirts. For me, half the fun of the study semester was the unknown. Not knowing things forces you out of your comfort zone and withholds any expectations.
Check out Aleeza’s photos below from her time in Belgium!