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Student Blogs/Nicolas in Belgium

I am not going to lie; it has been hard to write a blog post about my time abroad since it was cut short due to COVID-19. I have had this on my to-do list for months now but the past few weeks I have been reflecting on my abroad experience and decided that something so unpredictable and out of my control, such as the coronavirus, is not going to define the memories of my time aboard. We as people tend to weight negativity more than positivity; in this blog my goal is to reverse that and offer some suggestions for when returning to Canada.

7 friends with arms around eachother
Friends abroad!

Yes, my time abroad was cut short, but it was still probably the best year of my life. Going abroad to Belgium not only allowed me to visit countries that I have been dreaming to visit for years now, but it also allowed to grow significantly as an academic. Taking masters courses helped my academic career in ways that I could have never imagined. Now that I am getting ready to star my fourth year at Carleton, I feel more prepared and confident than ever. Placing yourself in an unfamiliar environment allows you to learn and grow in ways that you might not even be able to imagine. It is so much more than just going to Europe and traveling as much as you can. The people you meet, whether that be professors, other students, or people at a café, truly do impact your life. Going abroad has probably been the best decision I have made during my undergraduate degree.

A large castle and old buildings on the water.
Ghent was one of the first trips I took in Belgium and it is hard not to fall in love with this small city.

Going abroad and experiencing such an amazing time presents you with unique challenges upon your arrival back in Canada. You will find yourself always speaking about your abroad experience, making references to the culture you were in and telling stories of the countries you visited and the friends you made from all over the world. This can start to get slightly annoying and your friends might not want to listen to everything you have to say. My suggestion is to share your favourite stories with your friends and slowly start to incorporate aspects of the culture you were in, to your friendship. For example, I was exposed to music that I have never heard before and really liked it. I have slowly started to show my friends these songs and have noticed that they have started to listen to them on their own and even show me songs that are in French or mostly listened to in Europe that I previously didn’t know about.

a castle in Spain at sunset
By far one of my favourite trips, not only a beautiful country but also randomly ran into friends that I haven’t seen in years who were also abroad.

Something that has truly helped me express all my emotions and memories without overwhelming my friends and family is writing.

Prior to going abroad, I wasn’t someone who wrote. In fact, I would only write the few papers that I was assigned as course work. Being a Sprott blogger has truly been a rewarding experience. I have learnt that writing is something powerful that can help you express emotions of nervousness, sadness (which you may feel due to home sickness and being alone for the first time), but it can also help you release some very positive emotions and memories. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a Sportt blogger this past year as my time abroad will now always be documented and I can go back and read about the few months I lived in Belgium, my travels, and the amazing people I met.

To anyone who might be reading this, I strongly recommend going abroad. You will be rewarded with unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships and if you are up for it and want to challenge yourself to write more than you use to, apply to become a Sprott blogger, you won’t regret it!

Nicolas is a third-year Bachelor of International Business (BIB) student who studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium.

Sprott School of Business
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6
Canada
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