McDaniel College Welcomes Belgian Students to Campus

J Ellis

Staff Reporter

Starting a new semester is one thing, but starting a new semester thousands of miles away from home is another. Joachim Nyssen, Stéphane Clesse, and Quentin Renson are three students who re-located to the McDaniel campus from Brussels, Belgium.

In Brussels, Joachim, Quentin and Stephane are in their third year at Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis. Although they have all visited the US before, they were nervous about how they would cope with the American lifestyle.

“It’s too early to tell if I will get homesick. I like the life here and I’ve got a lot of things to do so I don’t think I will have time to think about Belgium,” Quentin said. “I think I will miss my family and European food.”

Contributing to Quentin’s lack of “homesickness” may be the fact that he’s having too much fun. A few weeks ago, Quentin, Joachim, and Stéphane took a trip to Ski Liberty in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with the outdoor club.

“It was a little different for us because we did not have any special ‘ski clothes,’” explained Quentin, “but it was great to see how the mountains differ from the ones Europe.”

Back in Belgium Quentin’s father and oldest sister work as lawyers; his brother is an engineer, and his mother is a legal advisor for La Chambre (Belgian Congress).

Joachim lives in Brussels with his parents and his two younger sisters; his older sister attended college in North Carolina this past fall semester.

Joachim recalls his excitement after finding out that he would be coming to McDaniel.

“The application and selection is a rigorous process…” Joachim states. “We have to apply for our three favorite destinations. Once we pass the interview by the university’s administration, we are then sent to one of our destinations…. I am happy to learn English in such a nice place as McDaniel.”

Joachim admires how things in the States are much “bigger” than in Europe and the McDaniel campus is no exception. Saint-Louis consists of a couple of buildings, and he thinks that it’s impossible to get lost. So coming to a campus where there are several buildings is a tough transition, but Joachim likes how friendly McDaniel students are and how they’re always willing to assist him if he gets lost.

Stéphane has spent five months in Guatemala and Holland. She says that her father is constantly sending her “thousands” of emails to see if she’s ok.

“In Belgium students go back to their parents’ houses every weekend,” Stéphane explains. “On weekends I [used to] go to my dad’s and hang out with my friends from high school.”

For Stéphane, the most difficult thing to get used to is the work load. “In Belgium, you don’t have to do anything. You’re not even obliged to go to class during the first 3 or 4 months of the semester,” she says. “But then you have to study very hard for a couple of weeks. We call this the ‘bloque period’…For two weeks life is horrible.”

When asked what her favorite and least favorite thing about America was, Stéphane replied, “I like the way people are so out-going and welcoming. People are much colder in Europe and won’t talk to you unless you really get to know them.”

“What I like the least is the way everything is about making money here,” Stéphane added. “You even have commercials for paternity tests.”

According to Rose Falkner, Director of International and Off-Campus Study, the students that come to McDaniel via the foreign exchange program come to “increase their English proficiency, want to study at an American college, and get involved in the campus experience.”