Culture Shock: A Whole New World in Belgium

Christian Quigley and Ashley Zito enjoy studying abroad in Belgium. Courtesy of Christian Quigley

By Christian Quigley 

It has only been about two and a half weeks now but I can honestly say that life in Europe has been spectacular. The people, food, lifestyle, and architecture are fantastic. Many people think that Europeans just hate Americans because we’re loud, rude, and above all annoying. But, in fact if you really get to know some of these people many of them don’t think that at all. At the Leuven Institute where I am currently studying in Belgium, there are Irish college students working at the school. At first they saw us as the stereotypical American kids but once we get to know them and them us, we saw each other as friends rather than Americans and Europeans.

I will say getting use to how Europeans work has been pretty difficult. Most of the stores close at around six or seven in the evening, and trying to find anything open on Sundays is an ordeal itself. As well, the only issue I would have is the constant chain smoking that Europeans do everywhere that Americans do not often do. They’re allowed to smoke almost everywhere and it has been really weird seeing that as the new normal for the moment. Europeans seem to have a completely different take on how work, and your life should function and it has been eye opening.

I finished my second week of interning at the European Union and it is by far one of the best experiences of my life. Everyone in my office is friendly yet diligent workers, which I very much appreciate. Although, they take their merry sweet time during lunch and do not have a set schedule of when to come leave or come back. The European Union though has been an experience all on its own, from trying to find your way around, to dealing with your office most likely smelling like cigarette smoke, it has been amazing thus far. I truly enjoy seeing how a different form of government works is mind boggling.

Above all else though, the best thing about this trip so far has been food and the easy-to-get through travel. The food here in Europe is a hundred times better than that of America, and you can tell it is made more naturally instead of being constantly battered in a deep fryer. They take their time and want people to enjoy their meal, rather than rush themselves for the next people in line, which is nice when you’re actually sitting their but at the same time slightly irritating when you are waiting for a table. The travel, though, is simple because you can pass through EU Nations without a stop, as long as you have a ticket or passport. They really want you to enjoy your time here.

I would hundred percent recommend studying abroad wherever and experience a whole new way of life no matter what your major is.

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