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You are a buddy of two students. They study ‘applied computer sciences’. Their native language is Spanish. Your mission is to make them feel at home in Belgium. You have complete freedom in your approach. Good luck and I’ll see you on the December 31st blog post.

“Well, how am I going to handle this?” I thought to myself.

Wait, before I start writing this amazing adventure, let me introduce myself. I am a pure Belgian. I wouldn’t know what that means, but I was born and raised in Belgium. My name is Kayliegh and I’m 20 years old. Actually, in two days is my birthday, so make that 21. My English is, let’s say, almost fluent. My French, uhm, actually let’s not talk about that. I also speak other languages: Dutch (duh) and some basic Spanish.

Now the adventure can begin…

Level 1

First level: contacting the international students. I only had their email address, so I sent a short email with information about myself and asked if they were comfortable in Geel by now. It was a bit strange for me to write a message to a person that I didn’t know. Especially if it’s not in my native language. Luckily there is such a thing as a translator and an English teacher.

Level passed: I received a nice response from the two students and was able to proceed to the next level.

Level 2

The next level: meeting up with the international students. After the email conversation, we gave each other our phone numbers. I had a nice conversation with the students via WhatsApp and I already knew a bit more about them. I thought it would be a good idea to meet at school to have lunch together. I suggested this and the enthusiasm was mutual.

Level passed: we had a nice lunch and had conversations about the Dutch language and the difficulties they encountered. It was very interesting to hear this about my own native language because I don’t think about this in my daily life. An example was the Dutch word ‘bureau’. This was a strange word for the students. The letters E A and U appear in this word, but when these letters are together in a word, you pronounce them as the letter ‘o’. We ended the lunch with the proposal to see each other the next day at the Irish pub.

Level 3

Third level: going out with the international students. The time had come, today I would meet the students outside of school. With a portion of healthy stress, I got in my car and drove to the Irish pub in Geel. I brought my boyfriend because he speaks fluent Spanish and he puts me at ease. One of my classmates was also there.

Level passed: it was a nice evening! We had a great time and I met many other international students. We talked about their studies, their future plans, and why they decided to come to Belgium.

So far it has been a nice experience in which I have been able to use my language skills. I’m looking forward to what the future brings. You’ll see it soon in my second blog post.

Thanks for reading and I hope I inspired you to embark on the same adventure!

Kayliegh Boyen