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African Students in Hasselt ( Belgium)

26 Jan 2012

Studying in the Flemish region, where many people are still finding it difficult to come in terms with the reality of Globalization....

I am a Cameroonian and I arrived in Belgium in the year 2008 as a student at the University of Hasselt. Like every student coming from Africa to study abroad, I was filled with high expectations and ambitions. It is said everywhere that you can be working while studying overseas, so I felt quite confident as I was a self-sponsor student.

I was overwhelmed with joy the first day I stepped my feet on the campus I have hitherto only seen on pictures...of course, the campus was as I expected...properly arranged with glass structures. Time for lectures came and immediately, I realized that I was in a foreign land. All foreign students (Africans, and Asians) occupied one part of the hall, while the Belgian and other European students occupied the other. Eventhough the programme was fully announced as an English programme, the lecturers answered and took questions in Dutch (Nederlands). When it was time for group assignments, there was always a distinction between Belgian and international groups...a total contradiction to the international nature of the programme that they claim on the university's website.

During breaks, the students clearly grouped according to their origns...foreign or Belgian. A few of us of tried to intergrate forcefully, but realized that it was a complete waste of time. By discussing only in Dutch, it was clear that you were not needed in their midst...but surprisingly, all of them understood and spoke English. A few of the Belgians where of course sympathetic with the foreign students at the beginning...but many were obliged to choose the other side later on. While in class, you could actually discuss with each other...but that vanished immediately when class was over or worst still, out of campus.

Events happening in reality contradicted greatly with all the publicity of internalisation posted on the university website.



n/b: I will come back with more real-life experience about being a foreign student in the Flemish region of Hasselt...where many are still not in terms with the reality of globalization.

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