Not so long ago, I arrived to Gent to start my 2 year-long Master program. By the time I had warmed up, the semester had already started intensely, and now it’s over. So, I feel it’s time to sum up!
Arriving to Gent, I only knew I could expect a beautiful city, some nice beers, chocolate, and an enormous concentration of students. The rest was completely unknown, just waiting for me to discover it all.
The first thing that really impressed me about IMFSE is the variety of nationalities attending it. In our Gent group, we had students from basically every corner of the Earth (Malaysia, Taiwan, Oman, Belgium, Serbia, Costa Rica, Brazil and El Salvador). Seeing how people can have completely different points of view on the very same topics due to the different cultural backgrounds is just something truly fascinating. Moreover, hearing about the customs, culture and the lifestyle in general of many countries is indeed extremely valuable. On top of that, the ability to learn so many interesting things from these wonderful people is something that definitely left the biggest impression on me during the first semester.
I talked to my colleagues a lot about how they found living in Belgium, what did they expect from IMFSE, what left the biggest impression on them, and so on; and there were some interesting answers!
My colleague Khai, from Malaysia, enjoyed the freedom and openness in Belgium. He saw Belgians as very welcoming to foreigners as he didn’t have problems making new friends there. I would have to say that my experience is quite similar, and that I totally agree with him.
The one thing we all agreed on is how close we became in such a short time. I can’t help the feeling that with some of the colleagues I feel like I’ve known them for ages. That is something invaluable.
Furthermore, Alejandra from El Salvador and I faced living without our parents for the first time. It’s quite challenging and interesting suddenly having the responsibility of taking care about a variety of everyday tasks. Thanks to our parents, we weren’t even aware of most of them.
And finally, the program itself. It was definitely not easy. Completing 6 courses in less than 3 months was a real challenge, but the program turned out to be very beneficial, and hopefully we will be happy after the exam results announcements :). It was really interesting how people with different academic backgrounds struggled with different subjects, but the nicest part was the cooperation among us, the students, giving a helping hand to each other, each in their strongest subjects.
The end of the semester was particularly beautiful, because it ended with the charmingly cozy Gent Christmas market, well-known for its delicious food, beautiful people, and an admirable Ferris wheel!