Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Joseph Cerrone- Belgium Internship at the Leuven Institute


Major(s): International Relations, Spanish

Minor(s): History and Latin American Studies

Abroad Program: Belgium Internship Program

When: Spring 2013

Where: Leuven, Belgium

Favorite Course: European Politics

Highlight: Meeting a group of great new friends

Best Excursion: Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Ibizia) 

Favorite Dish: Belgian Waffles

Least Favorite Dish: Fish

Next Destination: Hopefully Latin America

Describe your living situation.

During the program we lived at the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, which is a center for Irish Studies, conferences, and special events relating to Ireland’s place in the European Union. We lived in small flats on the second floor of the building, with four students to each room. The flats were arranged in a three-story fashion, with two beds on each the first and third floors and a bathroom on the second (each floor was just as big as a bedroom). We also ate our meals in the Institute and attended class in one of the conference rooms.

Who will you remember most from your study abroad experience and why?

I will most remember all the friends I made while abroad. With only 17 students participating in the program, we got to know each other very well while studying together, interning at the European Parliament, exploring Belgium, and travelling across Europe. Everyone in our program was amazingly open, friendly, and accepting, which made our time together unforgettable.

Describe your best travel experience.

My favorite trip was during our 10-day spring break, when two other students and I went to Spain. We spent time in Madrid, Barcelona, and Ibiza, getting to see the main sights in each and also having time to meet some of the locals. It was definitely one of the best experiences I had while abroad.

What was one fear you had before going? Would you have this same fear if you were going to study abroad again? Why or why not?

Before going abroad I was unsure of how I would react to a new social situation, in which I was confronted with new people and an unfamiliar setting. However, after arriving in Belgium I realized that these same challenges were facing all the other students as well, which allowed us to quickly move past these obstacles to become friends. I would not have this same fear if going abroad again, because I would view this challenge as an opportunity to meet people, make new friends, and gain an appreciation for another way of life.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?

Be open to everyone and everything. Studying abroad provides you with amazing opportunities that are unique and unforgettable; do not miss out on the experience by being hesitant, withdrawn, or trapped within your comfort zone.