I went to Belgium on a study period for six months. I studied at the Experimental Studio Atelier, but also worked in a cocktail bar, helped organise an art and music festival and played percussion in an experimental band.
Some of the best things that happened were the experience of studying art in Belgium and making a couple of really good friends. I've grown in confidence with my abilities to adapt to new environments. The most valuable part of the whole experience for me is feeling more independent and having broadened my awareness slightly. There are millions of worlds out there, all different shapes and sizes! I was nervous about speaking Dutch, language is not my forte but I overcame it by taking lessons, also everyone in Belgium has a really good level of English.
I studied at Sint Lucas where the students were really friendly and the staff were very knowledgeable. As an art student it was very interesting to experience the difference in how art is taught. The experimental studio was a huge greenhouse with scrap wood and metal, in amongst this, the students worked. They had daily-taught lessons on theory and written exams in art. For example one friend was sitting an exam on Surrealism and photography. Amazing! All the lessons were in Dutch, so for the Erasmus students they had arranged cultural tours of museums and galleries with a few lessons in architecture and contemporary art.
Gent is a huge student Town and I stayed an extra month for July, which is when the GENT FESTIVAL is on. It is one of the largest festivals in Europe, lasting ten days with a wide range of Music. The parks are decorated beautifully and so is the river. I was living in town, so to have a music festival just outside the door was amazing!
I think travelling and experiencing others people's ways of thinking and living should be an integral part of Education in general. Whether you've lived in different places or not, whether you're shy or confident, you should go on Erasmus, you will learn more about people, yourself, and their culture. You will learn to be more independent and like life; if you throw yourself at it, the results can be greatly rewarding. Whatever your background, if you're lucky enough to have this valuable opportunity in front of you, take it!