Welcome to the land of lace and chocolates, “frites,” over 800 different varieties of local beer, the Antwerp fashion designers, Flemish masters of paintings and tapestries, famous battlefields of WWI & WWII, home to NATO, the European Commission, and of course … the Belgian waffle!
My name is Stephanie Gardner, your BCA Resident Director in Brussels. I’m an American citizen who has lived in Belgium for more than 20 years. Ironically, like you, I was also an exchange student during my college years. My goal was to learn to speak fluent French in Belgium. Instead, I met my future husband, a “Vlaaming” (i.e., a Flemish speaker)! I can’t promise you that you will meet your future partner during your Belgian experience, but I can promise that if you open your eyes, ears and heart, you’ll leave Belgium a far different person than the one who arrived. I encourage you to keep a little log book or diary documenting your experiences. Believe me, you’ll enjoy referring to it in years to come!
For your first weekend as a BCA student in Belgium, I’ll give you a brief introduction to Brussels and a culinary “taste of Belgium.” Then, with the help of a local historian, you’ll be guided into yester-year, to the famous town of Ypres, on French border – home to Flanders Fields, where the famous war poem was written “In Flanders fields where poppies grow…” Ypres is known especially for its strategic battlefields during WWI. We’ll sample Belgian chocolates, check out an American War cemetery, and weather permitting, enjoy a long walk along the North Sea on our way back to Brussels.
Throughout the semester, I’ll try to show you a good mix of Belgian culture, art, history and food as well as familiarize you with Brussels’ pivotal role in the EU. Finally, we’ll enjoy some relaxed time together in getting to know one another in the capital of Europe.
Until then, see you in Brussels – “tot ziens” & “• à bientôt!”
Your Resident Director,