“When it comes to discovering a new place or country, I am probably the first one to hop in the car or on a train or airplane“, Hannah Falk said. The fact that it is not always necessary to travel thousands of kilometers to discover something new and exciting is something she learned during the pandemic: “Europe is full of beautiful and historic places waiting to be discovered. I had planned to study in Asia or Australia, all destinations that were unthinkable when application season came around. That is when I started considering European partner universities and finally decided on Ghent in Belgium, mainly because of the great course selection at the partner university. I wanted to learn something new, go out of my comfort zone and have a lot of fun. The design-oriented approach of Artevelde University of Applied Sciences in the International Graphic and Digital Media bachelor’s program checked all the boxes for me.“

Creative work

Hannah reported that her journey to Belgium went well; the coronavirus regulations were similar to the ones in Germany and did not affect her stay. For the first three months, she was able to attend her Artevelde Hogeschool on campus; as of December 2021 most of the courses were held online. “Our contact persons were always available for questions and made the best of the situation“, Hannah said. She has only good things to say about her host university, where she attended story design and photography courses: “At Artevelde, you have to show initiative; I took it as a challenge to give my very best. The university leaves room for creativity and, at the same time, gives support where it is needed. Lecturers are always available for creative brainstorming. Alteverde welcomed all international students warmly; they organized a welcome week, a daytrip to Brussels, movie night, waffle night and, of course, events with lots of fries. It made it really easy to meet new people.”

I kept thinking “wow” wherever I went

“In my opinion, Ghent is the most beautiful city in Belgium and a true hidden gem”, Hannah Falk gushes about the city and all it has to offer. “When I walked through the city on my first day, on each corner I stopped I kept thinking ‘wow’ – old, narrow houses surrounded by canals just like in Amsterdam. Especially on warm days, Graslei was my favorite spot. Many of the round about 80,000 students would meet here to spend a nice evening together. The city is not very large, which makes it very practical. You can get to any place on foot or rent a bike.” Hannah also took many daytrips to Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and to the beach nearby. Belgium’s neighbors are also great destinations. “In these four months, I travelled to Amsterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht. My favorite trip, however, was the one to Paris “, Hannah remembered.

Advice for other exchange students

Hannah Falk would definitely recommend her host university to others: “Ghent and the Artevelde Hogeschool are great. All study abroad experiences are great though, wherever you decide to go. You will surely not regret it.” Her advice is to try out the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) events to make many new experiences. “The ESN in Ghent is very well organized and offers all kinds of events: pub crawls, karaoke nights or daytrips across Belgium. You can save quite a bit of money using the ESNcard to participate. Be open and take things as they come, then, the studying abroad will shape you, open doors and be full of experiences you will remember forever!”