GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

How To: EU Study Abroad

Since the program is nearly over, I decided to compile an overly sentimental and much too thorough list of tips for future EU study abroad-ers. Enjoy!

  • Things to bring
    • An umbrella and a raincoat, everywhere you go: Among the many positive qualities that Brussels possesses, consistently sunny weather is notably missing. You will get rained on, guaranteed.
    • A gift for your host family: It’s hard to shop for people you’ve never met, but bringing them a gift is a really thoughtful way to say thank you and it will help you start the summer off right.
    • Good walking shoes: Your feet will hurt anyway.
    • Sweaters: Brussels is at about the same latitude as the middle of Canada, so it will be colder than you think, especially at the beginning of the summer. Also, the sun will rise really early and set really late so be prepared for that weirdness.
    • Not much else: Believe it or not, there are stores that sell clothing and toiletries in Europe. If you’re not sure you should bring something, leave it at home. Your beanie baby collection will be waiting for you in August.
  • Things to do
    • Be independent: You’re an adult and you can choose how to spend your free time. Don’t do something just because your friends want to. Within the bounds of safety, don’t be afraid to explore on your own.
    • Make a plan: Aimless wandering sounds fun, but when you’re tired, hungry, and lost you’re going to wish you’d spent 15 minutes on Yelp before venturing out of the hotel, I promise.
    • Get to know Google Maps: The little blue dot that tells you where you are even without wifi is a shining beacon of light in a dark world. Google Maps is your new best friend.
    • Participate, pay attention, ask questions: Firstly, participation is a huge portion of your grade. More importantly, though, this is likely the only opportunity you’ll get to speak to so many amazingly qualified people from around the world, so even when it’s hard to stay engaged during a three hour lecture, drink a cup of coffee, suck it up, and make the most of it.
  • Things to not do
    • Expect free water and bathrooms: Europeans apparently do not consume water and therefore do not need to use restrooms. They take advantage of Americans’ dependence on such silly luxuries by charging for both.
    • Lose patience with your classmates: The program is full of smart, amazing, globally aware people with big personalities. 10 weeks with the same 25 people can be a lot, but study abroad friends are the best friends.
    • Expect study abroad to be a vacation: Studying abroad can be hard. There is work to be done, though it’s definitely more fun than normal Tech work. Living away from everything familiar for an extended amount of time is not sunshine and rainbows all the time. There will be growing pains, but there’s nothing better in the long run.
    • Take anything for granted: It doesn’t get any better than this.



Foreign Ministry and TTIP




  1. Jasper Narvil

    This post would have been a godsend to me ten weeks ago (especially the part about under packing being an ok thing to do). The post is hilarious and painfully true. The only other thing I would add under the “Things not to do” tab is buy *any* drink in Brussels without asking if it’s carbonated first (yes, carbonated apple juice is definitely a thing here). Good luck, summer 2016!

  2. Rachel Jinks

    The honesty hurts – all of this is so true and every single one of us has experienced these things. Google maps has definitely saved me so many times – this is good advice, everyone should listen to it. I know I would’ve been more prepared if someone had sat me down and slapped me with this information… its all common sense, but I’ve come to realize that traveling tends to kill off rational brain cells and replace them with “ooo look at that, oh I want to go there,” and then you’re lost and its raining and no one speaks English. 10/10 would recommend.

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