Flight to Belgium: Here…We…Go!


Haidyn Fritz, Writer

As a foreign exchange student, Julie Welveaert is excited about all the opportunities the U.S. has to offer. But, there are a few things she truly misses about her home in Belgium. On the contrary, there are a few aspects she’s happy are more lax here in America.

   “School,” remarks Welveaert “is a lot easier here in America.” She furthers the point adding, “It’s like your final exams here, are our regular tests. Plus, there is a lot more homework.” This is surprising, because a lot here think that school is challenging; imagine having a weekly final examine! “But, there are a lot more students with jobs here,” Welveaert notes. “There aren’t as many students with after-school jobs in Belgium.”

The social setting is also a lot more lax here in America. “People are just more ‘friendly’ here,” Welveaert says. She also observes how casual people are in public. “It’s like people just go out wearing whatever they are most comfortable in.” Welveaert describes Belgian people as “mak[ing] sure they look business-ready before going out.” Adding to that, she says, “Sometimes, people even get fully ready before they check the mail!” People are more likely to silently judge a person going out wearing sweatpants, essentially.

Taking a step out of the school setting, teenage weekends are a lot more exciting in Belgium than the typical one here (at least legally). In Belgium, the legal drinking age is 16, meaning that parties are Welveaert’s favorite and totally legal part of the weekend! Whereas most here can be seen going to the local Martin’s for fun, Welveaert can be seen going out with her friends from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every weekend.

Being in a whole other country for a long period of time can be quite the challenge. Homesickness is a real thing, and Welveaert is definitely not a stranger to it.  Although she definitely has a few tried-and-true ways to prevent, or at least suppress, the homesickness, Welveaert uses social media very minimally, especially Snapchat. “I tend to call my family very little and use Snapchat as rarely as possible,” she admits.

Surprisingly, it didn’t take Welveaert long at all to learn English. Welveaert, already having a few other languages (French, German, Spanish, etc.) under her belt, says it took her a mere three months to learn enough to make conversation! Of course she is not a pro, but the hardest part didn’t come until she came to the States. “I think the first month was the hardest part of the learning experience. All the slang and things that people use made it kinda hard to understand what people were saying; but, I got the hang of it eventually.” Of course they say English is one of the hardest languages to learn, but Julie Welveaert took on that challenge no sweat!

Overall, there is a world of difference between Belgium and America, according to Julie Welveaert. “It’s very relaxing and chill here,” she says, “But, seriously, I really miss the parties.”