“Quarantined”. Yes, unfortunately, this term pretty much describes a major part of our Erasmus experience.

For me, this Erasmus experience, arriving at the beautiful city – Brussels, and the whole idea of living by myself in another continent entirely, has been one of excitement and keen interest. Honestly, I have always aspired to live this life and yes, I am extremely happy considering how far I’ve come.

“They didn’t say it was going to be easy, but that it was going to WORTH IT!”, is a famous quote that echoes in my mind even today. As for the most of us, coming to Belgium and living this Erasmus life has been a dream come true in itself, but not getting a chance to live it up to 100%, is really not a good feeling.

The entire situation of the Coronavirus pandemic across the world, is one that has been most unexpected, and has also caused fear and grief for many people, worldwide. The present situation is Belgium is also one that requires mention.

For us, Erasmus students of the spring semester 2020, this has been one of the most dreaded moments because undoubtedly, the outbreak has wreaked havoc and has lessened the entire merry and mirth of our Erasmus experience to a great extent. But letting aside all the hardships for a moment, looking back on what we have had so far, I must admit that IHECS and the entire International team has done everything they could, to ensure we have a wonderful time here in Brussels, which would probably be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience, for the most of us!

Right from the Integration week that began on the 27th of January, to the International dinner that we had on 6th of March, it has been really amazing for us. Some of my personal favourites from the Integration week were the Chocolate tour ;), the visit to the Magritte museum, the drink at ViaVia café, the lunch at IHECS, and the Belgian fries lunch. The guided walking tour has also been fun, interactive and informative, along with the sessions conducted at IHECS. The best part of the International dinner was definitely the food, along with the surprise organised by our super-talented star: Loic HENNEMONT, who awed us with his talent, and got our feet tapping to a melody that will always carry a special place in my heart.

Today, we are all in a situation in which we are entrusted to do just one thing, which would “save the world”, and that thing is to stay quarantined at our homes, be it in Brussels or back in our home countries. In these tough times, I spend my time by engaging in things I love doing the most, such as cooking my favourite Indian dishes, relishing Belgian chocolates, going for a run, doing home karaoke singing, reading a book, calling my friends and family, watching some TV series, etc., apart from attending online courses and doing the assignments.

All our courses continue to take place, through the online learning platform ‘Teams’, except for the course ‘Civic Engagement’, where it is practically not possible for us to have this course, owing to the present situation of coronavirus in the country. The International team of IHECS is also trying their best to keep us engaged, by introducing the #ErasmusAtHome Challenges, via Instagram.

Many of us are already back home with our families, but there are few of us in Brussels right now, just hoping with fingers-crossed that the crisis might very soon come to an end, and that we may be able to experience a little more of Belgian culture and explore a few more places, before it is time to bid adieu to this elegant country of our dreams – Belgium!

 

By Pearl Marita Sebatina D’SOUZA

Erasmus Student – Spring semester 2020.