By Karel Dejonghe
It’s December 8th, and I can’t believe that the semester is already drawing its last breath. In less than a month I’ll be back at home while the other students are starting the next semester of classes. It has been a wonderful experience to study abroad, especially in the United States. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even though I had a lot of work to do during the semester. As I – and Ann-Sophie – have told you guys, the way of teaching and interacting with the students in Belgium is a whole different ball game than the one at Northeastern. It was hard to get used to working every day to get papers read and assignments finished, but looking backward I feel that it is the way to do it properly.
First of all, it’s more fun and educational to participate in class discussions when you know what everyone is talking about, while providing input that makes sense. I am now more convinced that this way of teaching provides incentives for people to really delve into the subjects at hand and understand the topics in a more comprehensive way. I learned a great deal about the functioning of cities and how they deal with climate change and the issue of sustainability. Although most of it was centered on U.S. cities, I feel like I grasped the tools to say something meaningful about cities globally.
Professor Matthias Ruth’s class on environmental economics gave me a fresh look that is lacking in the current thinking about economy. As I mentioned, my Master’s program is in International Politics. At the beginning, I was a bit frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t take courses on American politics while studying in Boston. But, in hindsight, I must admit that public policy probably had the most added value for my curriculum. The opportunity to study at Northeastern University has thus been highly beneficial to me, and if I had the chance, I would do it again! The city of Boston has grown on me and I’m feeling kind of sad that I have to leave it behind.
I’m particularly grateful for the chance to add an international experience to my resume. As my hopes are to work for the United Nations or as a diplomat, I feel like studying here was a requirement to prove that I am able to live abroad. On top of that, my proficiency in the English language has improved tremendously, which is a cool bonus. So, as this is my last post, I would like to thank everybody that helped Ann-Sophie and I to acquire this wonderful experience abroad and made it a period in our lifetimes that we will not forget soon. Also, thank you to the people who have been reading our blog over these several weeks!
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.