STUDY ABROAD IN BRUSSELS

Study Abroad in Brussels

Brussels

Brussels is the principle center of the European Parliament and the European Commission. It is also home to the political arm of NATO and the corporate headquarters of many multinational firms. Students have the chance to work at the very center of European decision-making.

Living in Brussels

The city has an efficient metro system that makes commuting easy, but many people prefer to walk — particularly in the well-preserved medieval center. Being a truly multicultural city, you’ll find every type of restaurant here, and what’s more, it’s a great base for traveling to all parts of Europe.

If a “big city” environment doesn’t sound like your thing, don’t worry. There are many spacious parks and quiet squares in its center and wide open spaces on its outskirts.

Language

Students take classes in English. Most internship placements can be done in English, but some placements such as health care do require French skills. If a student is fluent in another European language and would like to intern with a Member of European Parliament for that country, we can try to arrange that as well. Non-native speakers must have a B2 skill level or higher on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).

Accommodation

Accommodation is secured for students by the Brussels program director before their arrival. Most students live in small studio apartments with combined bedroom and living quarters. Home-stays with local residents are also available.

Contact with Local Students

EPA students are able to make use of the full campus facilities at Vesalius College. In addition, they can get to know their classmates by participating in  activities arranged for international students – or by joining one of the many student societies and clubs.

Passports

You must have a passport valid for the duration of your stay abroad.

To apply, go to the County Clerk’s Office in your area. Call ahead to find out if there are any regulations or fees specific to your area. The processing of a passport application can take 12 weeks or more. If you don’t already have one, apply now!

Visas

A visa is official permission, granted by the authorities of a country where you will study or visit, which allows you to enter and remain in that country for period of time. To study in the Belgium during the fall or spring terms, US students will need a Belgian higher education long term study visa. This visa cannot be applied for until 90 days before the start of the program. US citizens do not need a visa for the summer, but international students will need to apply for a Short Term Schengen Visa for the summer.

Educational Programmes Abroad has undergone a review for educational oversight by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

Orientation | Work Placements | European Parliament | Businesses | NGOs

Important Information | Current Placements | Semester Classes

Orientation

The main orientation for all students takes place during the first few days the program. Orientation includes informational, cultural, and social activities to acquaint students with each other and with life and business culture in Brussels. All aspects of the program are covered in detail during these meetings. In addition, students will attend orientation sessions at Vesalius College. Internships and classes begin after orientation.

Internships

Academic Work-Placements in Brussels

A vibrant, multi-cultural and multi-lingual city, Brussels provides an excellent opportunity for students to experience European working culture first-hand in the “Capital of Europe”.  The working languages in Brussels are normally French and Dutch. However, over the years EPA has developed a strong and select network of primarily English-speaking placements across different industries. Spring and Fall students work at their internships for at least 20 hours, or three days, per week, and summer students work full-time.

In most cases, the application process for a work placement is competitive. Typically, EPA will make initial contact with a company by telephone and/or email. EPA will then submit up to three or four of the most promising and suitable dossiers, according to the needs of the company and the application documents submitted by the student. The organization will select the student who best suits their company profile. In many cases, the organization will also request a Skype interview with the student concerned. Only after this will the organization confirm or reject a student’s application. They will pass this information on to EPA and to the student concerned. Students who agree to be interviewed, and who are subsequently offered a work placement, are expected to accept the position offered.

A student accepted to an internship will receive an official confirmation from EPA with the name and contact details of their supervisor, as well as further information regarding the next steps. The whole process can take a couple months just to secure one work placement.

Further details of potential work placements are provided below.

European Parliament

EPA has had success in the past in securing work placements with individual MEPs. Only a limited number are ever potentially available, and these largely depend on the willingness of the individual MEP to take on a foreign student. Occasionally, students have been placed with a non-English-speaking MEP. Such placements are not guaranteed and require a minimum of B2 level (very good – near fluent) to C1 level (fluent) on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).

Students should be aware that MEP offices are very small, often consisting of the MEP (who is not always present), one or two Accredited Assistants, and maybe one or two interns only. The interns are often drawn from the MEPs own constituencies (e.g. an Irish MEP may only take Irish students). Therefore, opportunities are limited. Preference will be given to the strongest dossiers and those in their Junior or Senior year.

Interns placed in offices of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are involved in research, handling correspondence, and attending committee meetings. The European Parliament works on a four-week cycle: three weeks of every month are spent in Brussels on committee work and political group meetings, and the fourth week is spent in Strasbourg for the plenary session of the Parliament.

Business Internships

Outside of the European Parliament, there are other possibilities to engage with the political environment of Brussels. Consultancies, business agencies, and other organizations act as conduits between the various organizations of the European Union, business, and the wider public. Students who secure a position with one of these organizations are often exposed to a wider range of responsibilities and activities than those placed in the Parliament!

NGOs

EPA has a number of contacts with NGOs which have a European and International focus. These range in size from very small offices to those with thirty or more staff members. NGO placements have previously been secured with cultural organizations, environmental groups, and human rights agencies. NGOs frequently interact with a variety of other organizations. Due to the nature of their work, these positions are never guaranteed since they depend on the organization’s current priorities, their personnel, and their ability to supervise a student.

Important Information

The working (and living!) languages in Brussels are French and Dutch. Many organizations will ask for both languages in addition to English. This is particularly true of the following sectors: Banking, Finance, Telecommunications, Computing, Sports, Marketing, Retail, Real Estate, Transport.

Please do not ask to be placed with the following European Union organizations. They do not accept applications from non-European citizens, or they have an application process which is not compatible with the service provided by EPA (EPA also maintains a fuller list of incompatible businesses and NGOs):

  • Eurocontrol;
  • The Council of the European Union;
  • The European Consilium;
  • The European Commission.

Many institutions in Brussels now will not accept students on an unpaid basis unless they can prove that they have the necessary money from an independent source (i.e. non-familial). Therefore, students in receipt of scholarships and/or financial aid should indicate this clearly. Where two students seem equivalent on paper, preference will be given in accordance with their seniority, GPA, scholarships, and work experience.

Obtaining work placements in Brussels is highly competitive and there is considerable pressure on organizations throughout the city. EPA is successful because of its reputation, the number of years it has operated in Brussels, and the extensive international experience of its staff.

EPA makes every effort to match students with EPA’s most appropriate partner organizations in accordance with the students’ own cover letters, interests, and experiences. However, given the length of time required to negotiate a work placement within an organization, any refusal of a suitable work placement may jeopardize the student’s potential of finding another position commensurate with their interests and experience.

The following is a list of recent placements. EPA cannot guarantee a placement with a specific organization, and cover letters should not include any specific organization names.

Placement

Industry

87Seconds Consultancy: Communications
CBL-ACP: Belgian Chamber of Commerce: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific NGO: Politics and Business
ACP-YPN: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Young Professionals Network NGO: Politics and Business
American Chamber of Commerce, Belgium NGO: Business
BusinessEurope Consultancy: Business
EAPN: European Anti-Poverty Network NGO: Human Rights
EHMA: European Health Management Assoc. NGO: Health
ENCATC: European Network of Cultural Management and Policy NGO: Culture
ENCC: European Network of Cultural Centres NGO: Culture
EURAFFEX Consultancy: Public Affairs
European Parliament Government
Grayling Consultancy: PR and Public Affairs
Grimaldi Legale Law
Kreab Gavin Anderson Consultancy: Strategic Communications
The Right Street Consultancy: EU Communications and Advocacy

Semester Classes

Brussels students take courses at Vesalius College, the undergraduate English-language division of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB). The campus is located 20 minutes from the European Parliament. Students have access to all the facilities of the Vrije Universiteit including the library and computer resources. European Parliament interns also have access to the European Parliament library.

(Vesalius College, 2010)

Summer Session

During the summer session, Brussels students work full-time at their internships and do not take any classes.

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Brussels

Dates & Fees

The price of the program includes: tuition and housing, internship placement and oversight, pre-departure and visa application materials, comprehensive on-site orientation, welcome and farewell dinners, on-site student support, and on-site program management. Grade reports and supervisor evaluations are also sent to schools upon completion of the term. The fees listed are for students directly enrolled with EPA. These fees do not include academic credit. The school granting the credit will charge an additional fee.

Academic credit, air travel ($1000+),visa fees (Semester $500+), meals, and commuting cost are NOT INCLUDED in the program fees. Please budget $200-$300 per week for expenses depending on your lifestyle and the value of the US Dollar.

Arrival

Please plan to arrive before noon on the first day of the program. This means that you will likely make reservations to depart from the US the day before. Accommodation is only provided from the start date to the end date of the program. Students who wish to arrive early or stay late must find their own accommodations.

2019 Summer Friday 17 May until Saturday 6 July 2019 $8,200
2019 Fall Monday 19 August until Sunday 15 December 2019 $17,200
2020 Spring Monday 13 January until Sunday 17 May 2020 $17,500
Due to academic calendar changes and fluctuations in exchange rates, all dates and fees are subject to change, but will be set before the application deadline.

Scholarships and Aid

A variety of organizations and institutions provide scholarships and grants for study abroad from the United States. The following websites provide a good starting point for research on the many scholarship opportunities available.

Brussels Details

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