Civic engagement

It has now been more than 4 weeks since the Erasmus experience began and I have been able to get to know my courses and their content better. Although all the courses I have chosen are interesting, there is one in particular that I would like to tell you about. 

This is the “Civic Engagement” course, in reality it is not really a course because in order to validate it, it requires a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer work within an association whose theme is the human condition. 

During the introductory course, the person in charge of this course told us that it is totally possible to do more than 30 hours of volunteering and in fact almost all the students exceed this quota. To guide us, a table with various associations on different themes was given to us. 

We could find associations on :

  • support for migrants, 
  • homeless support 
  • LGTBQI+ support for migrant women,
  • integration of refugees, 
  • asylum seekers support, 
  • support for nursing home.

So many important themes in which I could find a strong personal and cultural enrichment. However, I had to choose only one from the proposed list. 

Thus, after having studied the different actions and particularities of each of them, I volunteered as a volunteer in the association SINGA, which accompanies and facilitates the integration of refugees. 

Even if I have not yet start to work within the association I know in advance that I could contribute to the animation and the good implementation of the various activities proposed (sports, playful, cultural and artistic) but also participate in the moment of exchange during the organized discussions. 

The reason I’m telling you about this initiative is because I think the IHECS had an excellent idea. Indeed, encouraging volunteer work through a course in conjunction with local associations offers an advantage for both the student and the association. In my opinion, this kind of concept should be developed further.

Finally, at the end of the hours worked within the association, a file of a maximum 4 pages must be drawn up. This includes a presentation of the organisation and the missions carried out as well as the impressions felt.

Alexa SIMONI

Get ready with us

Now we are well settle down in Brussels (since 1 month), I think it’s interesting to speak about our lives in general in Brussels.

First of all, you probably know that I live with Alexa in the same apartment. Clearly, our place is around everything. Now when we have to go to a place more than 15 min by feet we say that it’s far away… We are living in the Sablon’s borrow, at 10 min from IHECS (we can’t be late) and we are around 15 from the centre.

We have only courses on Tuesday, Wednesday, an Thursday. Our weekend starts on Thursday afternoon  and ends the Tuesday morning so a lots of travels are coming. Unfortunately, travelling means money and when I see how the first month gone we need to find a job. As you probably saw it (on Instagram) , Marie has already find a job in a café. This helps us to find motivation with Alexa and to have a job in Brussels. We will give our CV in all bars restaurants and café which are searching for students to work.  

Next to this, we are meeting some other people and student through the time. As we are in the French programme we are mostly with people who are speaking French but we are in a good mood and now we are beginning to hang out with other Erasmus student (hurray). We are often going out and we have our “habits bar” : le Big Game, le Mezzo, l’Ebrius … drinks are not that expensive and the atmosphere is really nice. 

Obviously we are working, we don’t forget that we have an exam session at the end of the semester. Actually we have all our courses in amphi except one ( the one  I talked to you few days ago). As I am talking to you about this course, we recorded our scene about “Pulp Fiction” during one all day with Lina Lisa Alexa Louison and me. Such a hard work. That needs a lot of concentration, but this help us to have a team work experience, to know each other better and to have a good day.

I think you understood it, the student life in Brussels’s is such a pleasant life. Despite the weather which sometime gives us bad mood, we are programming many trips and adventures. First we went to Anvers but you have to know that Bruges and Lieges are our next destination for sure.  So keep reading us and following us to know everything about our gateway.

Amélie

Bright Festival

One of the many advantages about living in Brussels is to be at the heart of all the activities the capital offers. This was the case from 13 to 16 February during Bright Brussels, a light festival. This festival follows a guided road by the various street lamps of the city, each covered with a pink sheet. It consists about fifteen artistic and interactive light installations. 

The Bright Festival has been for me the chance to wander three times, from the historic heart of the upper city to the lower part of the capital. An opportunity to discover the heritage of these districts from a whole new angle. Indeed, we were all bewitched by the magical atmosphere offered by the play of sound and light. It is not difficult to imagine the amount of work and the technical means mobilized for the staging of these animations.

To mention only my favorite animations, I would first choose the light and sound composition of Notre-Dame De La Chapelle. As churches are usually silent places, this immersive experience particularly caught my attention.

Notre-Dame De La Chapelle

I was also transported by the poetic universe of the bird-shaped Luminéoles. One could admire these birds of light floating above the Parc du Mont des Arts; a fascinating aerial show.

Finally, I was able to take a new look at the famous Grand Place in Brussels, which is fully illuminated. The architecture of its monuments was sublimated by the sequence of different colors that were reflected on its ornaments. 

Alexa SIMONI

Practice course : presentation about a course

Today I’m going to present you one of my course I chose and which I’m interested in. First of all, I will explain you as quickly as possible, how we chose our courses for IHECS.

Before leaving France, we received a course list in link with the second semester. We could choose our courses, which we preferred and were interested in (at least 3). Then, we could test those courses during 15 days and finally sending our Learning Agreement about all the courses we going to have for 5 months.

I’ve chosen 4 courses and I really like one : Practice video and TV. This one, as you can understand, is about practice in video, shooting and setting. 

It is separate in 2 parts:

  • The first :  I will do, with my team, a shooting and setting about a “Pulp Fiction” scene (by Quentin Tarantino). We will be graduate about the setting, our shooting and the originality. During 2 months, the teacher will give us pieces of advice and will following our work in the setting. Some material can be borrow during all the year : camera, tie-micro, light… Everything is here to help us.
  • In a second part we will do a portrait about someone or a group. We will be graduate about the setting and the sound. Now I don’t have enough information to talk more about this part.  

 I like this course because it is a practical course and less theoretical course and it is in English. I chose the French programme and I thought it could be good idea to keep English course to practice the language and improve my English. Also I could be with my Erasmus friend so it is just a benefice course for me. This course learns me how shooting, setting, manipulate the sound the light …

I am excited about sharing you our project, improving in this section and one day, using this abilities as a competence.

Amélie

Let’s take our marks !

Hey, everybody! 

I’ve been in Brussels for two weeks now. And I’ve started to get my bearings! 

First of all, I’m going to tell you about my departure and the integration week before telling you about the habits I’m starting to develop in Brussels.

I left La Rochelle (where I live) by train with my mom (because carrying two suitcases, backpacks, duvet and pillows, alone I would never have made it!) in the direction of Brussels. On arrival, we went in our AirBnB for two nights because my accommodation only became available on January 28th. 

We were able to take a tour of the city and eat in different restaurants that our host had recommended to us: the “Nona” pizzeria (you have to be patient because by 6.30 pm the restaurant is full), “Frites Atelier” (fries that are not Belgian, they are Dutch and really exquisite, the best I’ve eaten so far), and the “Café Georgette” (where the Belgian fries were very good). We also went through the inevitable step of the waffles… 

Monday, January 27th was my first day of Integration Week. We had a small presentation and then we visited the city thanks to a guide who spoke very quickly in English with an Irish accent. It was a lot of fun to listen to. 

Tuesday morning, introductory course on Europe and in the afternoon, demonstration of chocolate making at the “Concept Chocolate” in Brussels. I was able to get to know my room which I rented as a flat share in an apartment 30 steps from the school. I’m very happy with my accommodation because it’s big, right in the city centre and my flatmates are really nice.

Wednesday, introductory course in culture and in the afternoon a visit to the Magritte museum. I wanted so much to see the real painting “This is not a pipe” but after a google search, it is exposed in a museum in Los Angeles. It’s a shame. But I still had the opportunity to see the other paintings of the series. 

Thursday, introductory course on Belgium and in the afternoon, visit of the parlamentarium. 

On Friday we had a meal with all the ERASMUS in the restaurant “Le Roy d’Espagne” on the Grand-Place to eat chips! And yes, again and again. 

The following days we had our first lessons. Some of them I like a lot, others less, and I discover new ones that I intend to add to my list. 

We went to a cool HYPER bar, the Ebrius, where the atmosphere is crazy, young with an alcohol level that I’d rather not reveal. I was able to meet my buddy (godfather of the IHECS), a very nice guy who is part of the IHECS BDE.

We still keep walking around the city, and we pass by all the unmissable places in Brussels: the Galleries, the Grand Place, the Manneken and many other places that we discover during our many visits (bars are one of them). 

For the moment, I haven’t really had the opportunity to discover the districts around Brussels like Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, etc. but I plan to visit them in the coming weeks.

XOXO

Marie

AGORA PLACE

Picture by Clara Serrano

It’s been one week and a half that we are at Brussels and I did not think feeling that good.  The atmosphere in the streets, the different languages and the waffle’s smell in the street give me the best Brussel landscape. This is not a legend, in Brussels, it’s smells French fries and waffles. By the way speaking about waffles, I have to introduce you a little place that I particularly like when a waffle and a glass of hot win are in my hands. This place called “Agora place” and on an extern point of view, this place could be a crossroads close to the “Grand place” the museum and  the “Royals Galleries”. Three time I’ve been there, seating at the “Waffles and churros” table (wich is the best Waffle maker ever) and looking at people. The atmosphere is in here between an opera woman singer, some instruments players (that I already don’t know the instrument’s name), an atypical dancer, we are feeling like in an other place than Brussels.

So, if you wanna taste a waffle and drnk a glass of hot win in the same time than being behind the “Royals Galleries” ( which are fabulous), I invite you to walk through this place, taking your time and looking at people, painter, music players….Here we are, welcome to Brussels.

Amélie

The Parlamentarium

« Belgique – Bruxelles – Parlement européen » by saigneurdeguerre

The first article on our experience at the IHECS, it’s time to immerse yourself in the context of our arrival! 

We got off at Brussels train station on Saturday 25 January. The following week was devoted to our integration and the one of all the new Erasmus students at IHECS. Loïc Hennemont, who works in the school’s international relations department, had prepared a week of lessons and visits for us to discover Belgian culture and the city of Brussels. 

It was an opportunity to meet our classmates who come from all over the world. All continents are represented (except Oceania) through the sixty students who arrived this semester. 

Every morning we had a class. One on the European Union, another on cultural specificities and a last one on Belgian institutions. The afternoons were dedicated to visits. We visited the historical centre of Brussels, a chocolate factory and the Magritte museum for example. But today I would like to tell you about our visit to the Parlamentarium: the museum of the European Parliament.

The museum itself is not particularly more interesting than any other, it makes us rediscover the history of the European Union through an interactive exhibition. 

What was interesting, however, was when we went there. We were indeed on the eve of a historic event for this political organisation: The Brexit! 

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the Europe of 28, which will now be called the Europe of 27. 

We felt that a special atmosphere reigned in the European district of the Belgian capital. The museum was also in the middle of preparations for the event, which prevented us from accessing part of the exhibition. 

If we go back there in a few years, you can be sure that this day of 31 January 2020 will be mentioned there. We will be able to play the elders by saying that we visited this museum at a time when the European Union was still made up of 28 countries! 

Louison

Brussels : discovering a new place

For this first week in Brussels, I had the opportunity, during my integration week, to discover beautiful places such as bars, historical monuments, museums…

One place caught my attention, the “Celtica”. It’s a bar, on the Rue Marché aux Poulets, an unusual name I grant you! We met there one evening with some erasmus students for a drink.

This warm place in addition to offering beers at the modest amount of 1 euro allowed us to get to know each other better. 

I discovered a sociable character, indeed I really like to exchange with people coming from different continents than mine.

It is very interesting to be able to compare the different habits and customs between each culture.

However, it’s not easy to make yourself understood in a noisy place when you don’t speak very well English (lol), but with Amelie and Louison by my side, I was able to exchange easier and have a good time. 

Alexa SIMONI

Discovering Brussels: our integration week

After a week of transition in Bordeaux to prepare our trip, we finally arrived on Belgian, with some difficulties (see below), for five days of integration in this beautiful capital.

To make us discover emblematic places of Brussels in 5 days, that was the challenge of our school, the IHECS.
We started our integration week on Monday morning with the discovery of other Erasmus students from all over the world: Peru, United States, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Russia,… A beautiful cultural diversity! We were also informed about transport, where to hangout, administrative papers and insurance. In the afternoon we walked around Brussels with a Belgian guide who gave us the best addresses in the city.

After this visit, in the rain, wind and hail, we went to warm up with hot chocolate at Laurent Gerbaud’s house. According to the guide, the best hot chocolate in Brussels, we validate!

During this week we had three courses to understand a little more about the country in which we do our Erasmus : a course on Europe, a course on Belgian political life (very complicated…) and a course on the Belgian media.

For our second day, we had the opportunity to visit the Belgian Radio-Television of the French Community (RTBF). Finding out what’s behind the TV sets was really amazing!

We also visited the Belgian Parliament where we had the privilege of sitting in the seats of deputies and senators.


We couldn’t visit Brussels without going to a chocolate factory! We were able to observe (and also taste) how chocolate is made at Concept Chocolat.

Finally, the visit to the Magritte Museum was a wonderful discovery! A guide was able to transmit to us her passion for this Belgian surrealist painter, explaining to us his way of working and thinking.

In addition to chocolate, Belgium is also famous for its French fries! We were invited by the IHECS to Roy D’espagne, a real Belgian institution with a view of the Grand-Place, to taste some good “French Fries”.

On Friday afternoon we were able to discover our schedule. We now have two weeks to test and definitively choose our courses for our erasmus. To finish these 5 days of integration, IHECS made us discover Viavia café, a café with a crazy charm (and good beers), very good address to note!

This integration week was an excellent introduction to our life in Brussels, already rich in encounters and discoveries.
Just find here our integration week in pictures.

Have a nice week !

Maud & Jade