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Student Exchange Program

By: Stephone Brown – Social Media Editor

As the summer approaches, many students begin to think about alternative options on how to spend their summer. The Center for International Education offers many different programs including international and domestic exchange programs. Schools allow students to exchange throughout the country and the world. For international students, they can apply to William Paterson as long they have an F-1 Visa.

This semester, two students from Belgium are studying here at WPU and gave their comparison between American and European culture. Lise Darthet, a 21-year-old Education, History and English major said the biggest difference between Wayne and Ghent, Belgium is the people.

The senior from Ghent, Belgium says that Americans are extroverted. “Belgian people tend to be more introverts and Americans are more extroverts, I had to adapt to this a lot,” said Darthet.

Darthet also says the idea of “hanging out” is confusing to her. “What do Americans mean with ‘We should hang out?’ Because when we say that we probably won’t but if you don’t hang out in America when you say this the person sometimes gets offended.”

Vincent Ronse De Craene, a 22-year-old senior studying English who is also from Ghent says you can walk anywhere in Ghent. “The physical differences between Wayne and Ghent are very noticeable. Everything is older in Ghent, you can walk everywhere and people use their bikes a lot more.”
Both students came to WPU to experience college in the U.S. “It wasn’t really the WP university that motivated me,” said Darthet. “In Europe, we have the image of the big American Dream and I wanted to see for myself how this was.”

 

De Craene came to WPU to expand his teaching skills. “I believe that in order to create a critical point of view on my own education(system), I had to experience another way of doing it.”
While both students agree the selection process to come abroad was challenging, it was nothing in comparison to the process of getting a visa. De Craene says it was hard getting all of his paperwork in time. “We didn’t have a lot of support concerning getting our VISA, so sometimes it was a bit stressful to deal with the embassy and getting papers finished in time.”
Darthet says that besides the social style, the teaching style is also different here compared to Belgium. “In Belgium you mostly get one shot to get 100% of the grades and that’s on a final. [In America] you don’t have to study that much, you just have to attend and participate and occasionally finish an assignment.”

 

De Craene says that compared to Belgium, everything’s different here. “You just start noticing differences in things that you never knew could be different.” said De Crane. “The first thing I noticed, was that everyone wears sweatpants and baseball caps.”

 

Darthet said when it comes to culture, that’s where the U.S and Belgium have the biggest differences.

 

“Culture is very important to American people,” said Dehart. “We don’t pay much attention to our heritage.”
“For us differences in skin color, sexual orientation, hobbies, interests and so on isn’t as important as it is here,” said Dehart about culture in Belgium.
While they both are enjoying their time here in the U.S, they agree that people who don’t mind a drinking age of 16, tuition at $900 and good food, they should go to Belgium.

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