By Karel Dejonghe
Hi! As my biography states, my name is Karel and I’m an international student from Belgium! Northeastern has asked me and Ann-Sophie to start writing a blog about our stay in the United States of America, so here I am!
This blog will consist off my general experiences during this semester, like what my school week looks like, what my thoughts are on several aspects of American society and how I have perceived them thus far. But to start us off, I should tell you a little more about myself!
I was raised in a small town on the border with France and the French-speaking part of Belgium. (For the people who are unaware of the majestic situation in Belgium, the country consists of three different language-areas: French, Dutch and German). I was raised speaking Dutch, but as the other two languages are state languages, I had to learn French and German. I spent my teenage years playing basketball, going to school and engaging with youth movements.
Through the years, I have developed a keen interest in history and politics, especially International and American politics. This was one of the main motivators to join the program here at Northeastern. I’m in the Master of Public Policy Program at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. My main goals of for my stay here is to give an international character to my existence, learn more about the internal systems of the U.S., and quite frankly, enjoy myself a little!
By Ann-Sophie Vermeersch
As you can read in my bio, I am an exchange student from Belgium. The purpose of my blog is thus to point out how the Bostonian student life is perceived by an outsider. I will talk about habits I have learned, things I find remarkable and things I miss, impressions that stay with me, and experiences that surprise me.
As I will be sharing my thoughts with you on the many different issues I’ll encounter during my stay at Northeastern the next two months, I think it might be useful for you to know what I am up to during the week. That’s why this introductory post is about a week in my Bostonian life.
On Monday I usually do my groceries. Since I live in an Airbnb near JFK/UMass, I go to Star Market for my supplies. I can’t cook, so most of my groceries are prefab meals and Nutella—a girl’s gotta have her chocolate. Monday, just as Thursday, is my yoga day. I have subscribed to yoga classes at Northeastern for two reasons: 1) I wanted to get to know some students outside my classes, and 2) my rather unhealthy lifestyle (see the part about how my diet consists of prefab meals and Nutella). I also think it is a fun way to stay in shape. I will certainly spend some time explaining to you how the Belgian students eat and do sports (spoiler: it is quite different than what you guys are used to).
Tuesday, I have class in the evening with professor Fitzgerald about climate change, cities and sustainability. Wednesday, I have another evening class with professor Deninger, a course on educational policy. My third class, “Security and Resilience Policy” with professor Flynn is a hybrid class, so most of it is online.
My days during the week are mainly filled with reading articles, preparing courses and writing papers. I will definitely write a blog on how the American education system differs from the Belgian system and how I am experiencing this.
Saturday is my “day off.” I try to be a tourist and explore different parts of the city. I have seen a few interesting places both in and out of Boston, and I look forward to telling you about them. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but that is not the case in my agenda. I skype with my boyfriend, my family and my friends, so that means I am busy repeating the same stories and week reports for most of the day. In between skyping, I finish my schoolwork and plan for the following week.
Now, you know what I am up to most of the time and what will be the main part of my inspiration for this blog!
Karel Dejonghe is a Belgian graduate student at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Policy as part of a semester abroad experience, which is an addition to his graduate studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Karel has a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science and a Graduate Diploma in International Politics. He has traveled all over the world, and this time it’s the U.S. You can mostly find Karel watching a sports game at the Marino Center or at a bar. Karel can be reached via email at email@example.com, Facebook, or Twitter.
Ann-Sophie Vermeersch is a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy. However, you won’t see her around during the spring semester. She is here as an exchange student, and she'll return to Belgium after the final exams. In Belgium, she obtained a Master’s Degree in History, and she is in the process of obtaining a Master’s in Public Policy, which she is deepening at Northeastern. She's interested in how policy deals with climate change and crises. Within those areas, she is particularly keen on finding out how citizens can be involved in the policy process. In her free time, she likes to go for a run, read some books, or have a drink and meet new people. Ann-Sophie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Facebook.