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Report about my semester abroad

A semester abroad is always an enriching and at the same time challenging experience. I was also very lucky to be able to spend a semester of my psychology master’s degree abroad thanks to the ERASMUS program. Here is a small, hopefully helpful insight:

motivation

Why did I spend a semester at the Université catholique de Louvain? Above all, I was attracted by the opportunity to deal in depth with interculturality and diversity within psychology. I also wanted to take on the challenge of studying in a language other than German or English, because most of the courses here are in French.

preparation

The application and the organizational preparation went smoothly at first. Thanks to the competent advice from our specialist coordinator, Ms. Ute Lorenz, I was optimally accompanied and supported during the application process. At first I planned to go to Belgium in the winter semester 17/18, but since the timetable for the whole year was published and most of the courses on (inter) cultural psychology were scheduled for the summer semester, I was able to swap semester times at short notice.

accommodation

For the semester, I have decided to live in the student residence in Louvain-la-Neuve. The rooms cost between 280 and 350 euros and you can apply online as soon as possible. There are also small apartments that are a bit more expensive. In Louvain-la-Neuve, everything is within walking distance and the university's shared apartments are basically ideal. I got into a 10-person flat share and unfortunately I wasn't so lucky because my roommates were not very open and very unreliable, which was shown by various additional payments and dirty common rooms. If you like it clean, you might be better off in a private room. It was nice that almost all of the roommates came from Belgium and that I was able to use my French in everyday life. For everyone who couldn't find a place in the dormitory, there was / is a Facebook group where you can easily search for rooms. I definitely don't recommend moving to another city if you want to take part in student life. If you have been given a room in the dormitory, you have to appear there during business hours on the first day. Since it is the same day for all students, I recommend getting there early in the morning so as not to have to wait for hours. If you need accommodation for one night, you can contact “Kot Erasmus”. At the ESN / ISN you can buy everyday things cheaply in the first few days, otherwise HEMA is recommended. Another small note: In the first few days you have to fill out a handover protocol, so it is really important to enter every small complaint so that you get your deposit back later. Another thing that is very cool from my point of view is the KAP (“kot-à-projets”). These are residential groups that pursue a task together. For example environmental protection or living with disabilities. These groups organize events, excursions or simply joint activities during the semester. If you want to live there, you should contact the KAP directly in good time. The KAP Erasmus in particular accepts international students.

Louvain-la-Neuve - your new home

| Louvain-la-Neuve, tu ne dors jamais la nuit - Edouard Priem

This is a good way to describe the city. The city was founded especially for the students and therefore mainly students live there. From Monday to Thursday there is a party everywhere, there is a lot of drinking, especially Belgian beer. I would like to warn you that after 7 p.m. you will meet people everywhere on the street who want to get rid of the beer. The CASA offers a “special” experience. Let yourself be surprised and take rubber boots and old clothes with you if you dare to go inside. Most Belgian students go home at the weekend, as anywhere in Belgium can be reached in less than four hours. So the city looks pretty deserted at the weekend and it is advisable to take the opportunity to get to know Belgium better. Ghent, Bruges and Dinant are particularly beautiful places.

Université catholique de Louvain

The university's kick-off events were well organized. Before we even arrived, we had the opportunity to register for a language tandem. And we were welcomed directly on site. On the very first day there was a small fair for international students to get to know important organizations. Depending on the faculty, there was another introductory event where I got to know other students from psychology and, above all, formalities for events and exams were clarified. The course selection was also made before arrival, but you could still register course changes without any problems in the first 10 days. Most of the events were lectures with a relatively large number of students (approx. 80). Nevertheless, there was a lot of discussion and group work was carried out in some courses.

These were good opportunities to get in touch with Belgian students. The examination performances were very different. For me, they consisted of presentations, exams in MC format and open questions, the creation of a blog and a term paper. In principle, I would definitely recommend a language course, but since I had four out of five courses in French, it was too much time for me, as language courses were always mandatory twice a week. A small note, it is worth checking weekly whether the courses are taking place in the same room, there are more frequent spontaneous changes. The LLN Campus app helped me to find rooms. As such, the app is outdated, but the rooms are easy to find there. The level of the courses is demanding, but easy to do. I particularly enjoyed the courses taught by Professor Vincent Yzerbyt and Pierre Maurage.

For me, this semester abroad was a great experience, during which I got to know many wonderful people from all over the world, improved my French, deepened my main interests in intercultural psychology and also grew personally. Thank you for this opportunity. In general, I would recommend a semester abroad at UCL in Louvain-la-Neuve, especially for the Bachelor's degree.