An international hub for learning

TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS © ODISEE

Pack up your bags and books and begin your learning journey today. Odisee, one of Flanders’ biggest university colleges, lives up to its name by being a champion of internationalism. Not only does the school encourage its students to cross borders, but it is also a warm home for the many expats who choose to study in Belgium.

With six campuses spread across Flanders and Brussels, and nearly 10,000 students, Odisee is one of the region’s biggest university colleges. They offer bachelors, post graduates and bachelor-after-bachelor programmes in the fields of commercial sciences and business studies, industrial science and technology, social and community work, education, health care and biotechnology. Furthermore, their faculties are cultural melting pots. This year, Odisee’s student board counts 79 different nationalities and no less than 290 students have chosen to spend a semester abroad or take an internship in another country. “The school really motivates us to take a leap,” says Yentl Tondeleir, who studies occupational therapy. As an internship, she went to Poland to work in an orphanage for children with special needs. “They assisted me with the paperwork before I left and gave me emotional support when I was there. Some teachers even came to Poland to see how things were going on-location. Others called me occasionally.”

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An international experience is, of course, more than just a relaxing trip. The aim is for the students to explore their trade in another culture and to gain a broader vision of the world. “My internship in Suriname was an eyeopener,” says nutrition and dietetics student Eline Dieleman. “They eat far more greasy food and carbohydrates than we do here. I had to be flexible and adapt my knowledge to this new context. That was a great lesson for me.”

Odisee is not just a launch pad for the many students with foreign aspirations, it is also a beloved destination for students from abroad. “I had heard great things about Belgium and Brussels, so I decided to study there myself,” says Daniel Manteau. Three years ago, he exchanged his hometown of Hong Kong for the capital of Europe to study business management at Odisee. “When I saw the course curriculum, I was immediately convinced. I enrolled and haven’t once regretted my decision. In the beginning, it was challenging to make friends, but our professors gave us many group assignments, through which I met a lot of people. Overall, the Belgian culture is very welcoming. If you are an open-minded student who wants to learn and grow as person, Odisee is definitely the right choice.”

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