This week concluded my exams in Liege, Belgium. The amount of studying necessary to succeed was unlike anything I had ever done before. While TAMU has made me study and prepare in advance, it does not even compare to how much studying is necessary in Europe. I prepared weeks before exams to make sure I knew the material that was taught the entire semester. It was quite the challenge, but I felt prepared for each exam and believe I did well in all of them. I am happy to be starting my final semester online at TAMU this semester!
Over the months, Covid-19 restrictions have increased in many countries, including Belgium. There is now a curfew from 10pm to 6am with penalty of a fine. Many countries have been more drastic like France or the UK. I have traveled to some countries, but many would require a quarantine so I could not go to multiple countries. While this has been frustrating, I am still very thankful for the opportunity to study here. I have learned about marketing in a new country and how different life is in Europe. It has been an amazing experience to soak up all the culture and meet so many amazing people. Even with all the differences, I have connected with people from all around the world. I am thankful for this experience that has truly changed my life.
Coming to Europe without prior knowledge, the school system was quite shocking. HEC Management School was quite different from American schools when it came to the building itself. There is just one building right outside the city center. The most confusing thing was that the ground floor is technically the 1st floor in Europe. That was quite confusing at first! Classes were around 3 hours in person at first and then transitioned online. It was quite an adjustment to be in a classroom for such a long time at first. The teachers were all very intelligent and the lectures were very interesting. I enjoyed all the teachers, especially the ones related to marketing and learned a very different perspective. There were not really any assignments, just a few flipped classes that my team had to present at and a major research project. Every class I had there was a big project that was almost half the overall grade. I worked in teams of 4-6 depending on the class which really helped. All my teammates were very helpful and kind to me. They gave me advice and were always willing to help me if needed. I learned a lot in the classes and overall enjoyed them except one part. The finals at the end of the semester were stressful because they were so different from TAMU. I knew I would have to study for weeks to pass the exams and that worried me a lot. Also, in some exams I would be deducted additional points for guessing. My mindset when approaching exams had to be different than in America since I had to study a lot more material. Overall, the classes and teachers were amazing, and I enjoyed what I learned at HEC Liege.
Moving on to the city of Liege, it is a small city overall. It does have its charm to it though even with its size. There is a beautiful river that runs through the city. There are many museums, cathedrals, and parks to visit. There are a lot of restaurants and bars as well that were open for the first few months. The people are really kind here but overall, not many speak English. I had met a lot of friends through the school group called Erasmus. They had lots of events at the beginning of the semester to help people socialize. It helped me meet people from all over the world. I was able to explore the city with these new friends. There are some famous stairs here called Montagne de Bueren which I walked up way too many times when showing off the city! Also, the waffles here are famous for being so delicious! They have sugar on the outside that is crystallized and makes it a bit crunchy on the outside. They are my favorite sweet treat in Liege, besides the many chocolates. The city is safe, and the location I live in is very close to everything I want to go to. I really enjoy Liege when it is full of life and people out and about.
Before choosing Belgium to study in, I had no idea where the country even was located. Now upon being here and exploring a lot I have found Belgium enchanting. From Bruges to Dinant, there are many cute and stunning cities all with different attractions. I have explored many cathedrals, museums, and shops while in new places. Belgium is sectioned into Dutch, French, and German speaking areas so depending where I went people would speak different languages. I found in the Dutch speaking areas that people spoke English much more fluently than in the French parts. It was a bit difficult communicating in my first few weeks, but as time progressed, I learned the necessary phrases. Belgium is not very mountainous but there were some areas that had beautiful tree covered hills. My favorite places in the country are Bruges and Dinant. They are both very beautiful cities that have uniqueness about them. Belgium is also very to get around with in the trains. Also, Brussels is not far, and it is easy to take a plane out of there to travel more. Belgium also is close to France, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands which makes travel easy to these countries. Overall Belgium is a great place to study and to see new amazing things.
Dinant (photograph combination of places I have been to in Belgium)