A: There are three required meetings you must attend during the semester prior to your experience abroad. If you have been accepted to the Semester in Antwerp program, you will be notified about the meeting times and dates.
In addition, there will be a mandatory meeting sponsored by the Office of International Programs for all students going abroad. If you are accepted to the Semester in Antwerp program, the Office of International Programs will notify you of the meeting time. This is a mandatory meeting.
A: During the fall, it can be hot, cold, windy, or rainy. You can expect cool, windy, and rainy weather in September, getting progressively colder until December. By December, it will be quite cold. You will need to dress accordingly. Highs probably won't top 70 degrees Fahrenheit at any time during the fall. Bring an umbrella! You will need one.
During the spring, the semester will start out cold in January, and get progressively warmer by the time you leave in May. You will need to dress accordingly.
During the summer session (May to August), the weather can be fairly cool to fairly hot. Usually, the temperature will stay in the pleasant 70 to 80 degree range, but especially in early May, it can sometimes be cool. Bring a jacket and appropriate cool weather clothing.
A: Your main method of transportation will be your feet. Especially in Antwerp, Brugge, Ghent, and Leuven, you can expect to do a lot of walking. Therefore, pack some good walking or running shoes. We will charter buses and take trains to get to other cities, but once in the city, you can expect to do a lot of walking.
A: The weather in Belgium will fluctuate widely. During September, and perhaps even into October, it may be warm. On the other hand, Belgium is further north than any U.S. state except Alaska, so it may become chilly rather early. You should plan on bringing clothes for all weather conditions. You will probably experience temperatures between 20 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer, it is usually pleasant and can get quite warm, but during the fall and spring semesters, you experience a wide range of temperatures.
Do bring an umbrella, and make sure you bring at least two pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Europeans, in general, do not wear shorts, unless they are participating in athletic events (e.g., cycling, soccer). If you choose to wear shorts, sandals, and a tank top, you will stick out as a foreigner, and perhaps bring unwanted attention to yourself. When it is warm, Belgian women will wear very short skirts rather than shorts.
Brand name running shoes are in vogue. If you own Nike, New Balance, or some other popular running shoes, you will be in style. They are also very comfortable to walk in.
Black is a very common color in Antwerp. If you wore black shoes, socks, slacks, and shirt, you will blend in nicely.
A: The best way to exchange money is with an ATM card or a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Most ATM cards work in Belgium (although some don't). You can get money right at the airport, at the highest possible exchange rate. Recommendation: get a checking account debit card from Visa and make sure you have plenty of money in your checking account. You will have a small service charge (say, $2.00) from your bank each time you use your debit card. If you use a Visa or Mastercard credit card , you will be charged some hefty finance fees. If your ATM card works, you can use that. Be aware there will also be a small service charge for using an ATM card.
Traveler's checks can be used, but there is a service charge each time you exchange money, and you generally get a poor exchange rate.
If you bring cash, bring $50 bills or smaller, as many places will not cash $100 bills. We will give directions to one or two change shops where you can exchange dollars for euros. But even at a bank, you get a worse exchange rate than from a debit card or an ATM card .
If possible, avoid changing money in airports, train stations, and at most Exchange businesses, as you generally lose out on the exchange rate.
Do not exchange money in the United States at the airport. You will get a very poor exchange rate and a hefty service charge to boot.
My recommendation: get a Visa debit card for your checking account.
A: You will need spending money for souvenirs, personal expenses (e.g., laundry), some meals, and any extra entertainment you choose to purchase. Many students enjoy dancing in night clubs, but this is not cheap. Others purchase alcohol, since there is no drinking age, and this can also be very expensive.
A frugal student who didn't purchase too much alcohol or go dancing or buy excessive souvenirs should be able to get by on $10 a day. Some students lived on a tight budget, others spent considerably more. If I were sending my own child, I would probably budget $10 to $15 a day, which would be adequate if she/he didn't purchase alcohol or go overboard on souvenirs or travel. That works out to be about $70 to $100 per week. The semester in Antwerp program will last for 15 weeks during the fall semester; 16 weeks during the spring semester; and 13 weeks during the summer semester.
A: No. You must check out on the day you are scheduled to leave. The FMIR may not be staying over to check you out at a later date.
A: No. JMU is not a travel agency, and it is our experience that arranging a group flight is often more expensive than if students traveled on their own.
That said, JMU will be at the airport on the specified date with a bus and will pick up all students who arrive between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. (most international flights arrive between these times).
If your flight is delayed, or if you arrive on a different day, you will have to get to Antwerp on your own , but that is easy to do.
A: Yes. In Belgium, the law states you must be sixteen (16) to drink, but it is not enforced. So you will be able to purchase alcohol if you choose. For your reference, here is the text of the JMU Study Abroad alcohol policy:
"JMU's alcohol policies, which derive specifically from laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, state: "Individuals must be 21 years of age to buy, possess, or drink alcoholic beverages." Students should note they will be studying in countries where the drinking age is 18 [16 in Belgium]. Thus if students choose to consume alcohol, they are expected to drink and behave responsibly. The excessive consumption of alcohol or misconduct due to alcohol consumption will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the program." Here is the full text of JMU's student handbook.
A: The FMIR is a professor, not a travel agent. The FMIR will have some tourist books with her/him that you are welcome to use, and s/he will help you where s/he can, but s/he does not take charge of students' travel plans.
A: You will have a fair amount of free time some weeks, and not much other weeks. Typically, you will have classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. You should plan on being actively involved with the program from 9:00 a.m. on Monday until 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Do not plan on individual travel during this time unless the time is released by the FMIR. On most Wednesdays, we will be taking a day-long field trip to certain destinations, e.g., the Port of Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge, or Leuven.
Several times, we will be taking extended field trips. These field trips will last one, two or three nights, leaving on Thursday and coming back on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, as the case may be. During these extended field trips, we may include some free time, as program demands dictate.
Three times a semester, you will have three-day weekends. We encourage you to use this time to explore Belgium, or other European countries on your own.
Remember, however, that you are in school, taking 15 hours of courses required for your business major. You will have to study. But you will have several hours of free time each week.
A: Yes. The University of Antwerp has several computer labs, and you will be given access to the World Wide Web. We also offer a problematic wireless network in the JMU residence in Antwerp. You should be able to use your JMU webmail account without too many problems.
There are also several Internet cafes near the University that will give you greater access to e-mail, though you will have to pay for these services.
A: Yes. We will explain how to call home at the orientation meetings.
A: No. For the fall and spring semester, you must complete all prerequisites before you may register for COB 300. If you have not been accepted into COB 300, you will not be allowed to participate in the Semester in Antwerp program.
A: No. You must register for both COB 300 and COB 301 if you are a fall or spring semester student.
A: Please contact Dr. Tokman (email@example.com). There is some crucial information you will need before going to to Belgium. Try to make it to the meetings, but if you absolutely cannot come, let me know.
A: The FMIR will be at the Brussels airport on the designated arrival date to meet students who arrive between 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Most international arrivals from the United States will arrive between 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Someone will wait for students during this time, and get you onto the bus back to Antwerp.
If you arrive at a different day or time, you will have to find your own way back to Antwerp. There is a Sabena bus that leaves from the Airport to Antwerp every hour. The bus leaves from the lower bus area, and costs 10 Euros. Find a cash machine, and withdraw about 20 euros. Look on a map or ask someone where the Antwerp Express shuttle is located. Make sure you get on the Antwerp Express shuttle going to Antwerp . Ask the bus driver if you are uncertain (she/he will understand English). There is a web site about the bus to Antwerp, if you are interested. The bus will drop you off near the train station in Antwerp, which is right next to a Taxi stand. Hail a taxi, and have it drive you to:
Ring the bell and let the RA know you have arrived. He can let you into your room.
A: Follow these steps.
Dial 011 to access an international line
Dial 1 for long distance
Dial 32, which is the country code for Belgium.
Drop the 0 from the Belgian area code
Dial the number.
For example, to call the main number at the student dorm from within Belgium, you dial the area code (03) and the number (03 220 4640), or 03-220-4640. To call the student dorm from the United States, dial 011 to access an international line, then 1 for long distance, then 32 for the country code, then drop the 0 from the area code and just include the 3 , then dial the number. That is, dial 011-32-3-220-4640.
A: Yes, under certain restricted circumstances. You must meet the equivalent of all the prerequisites for COB 300, and there must be a slot available. If there is not a slot, you may not participate with JMU's semester in Antwerp..
A: Yes. There are only 32 slots, and they will fill quickly. Apply early if you are interested.
A: Fly into the Brussels International airport (airport code: BRU). Visit the official web site for the Brussels airport if you are curious. There are many direct flights from Dulles airport, as well as airports in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and other major east coast cities.
A: Yes, if you arrive at the airport at the designated date, between the hours of 8:00 and 10:30 a.m., someone will be at the airport to meet you. If you arrive at another day or time, you will have to find your own way to Antwerp.
A: Once you decide to go, you should get your passport as soon as possible. It will take at least four weeks, probably more, to process your paperwork. The Office of International Programs at JMU has some passport information, and you can learn more about the process by visiting the State Department's Passport Services and Information page.
In Harrisonburg, you can apply for a passport at the courthouse on Court Square.
A: No. Your total program will be 90 days, which means you can come and stay on your passport, if you are a U.S. citizen.
A: Most likely, yes, unless you are an EU citizen. You will need a visa for Belgium. Most of the information about passports and visas in this FAQ assumes you are an American citizen. If you are not an American citizen, it is your responsibility to make sure you are legal to study in Belgium and travel to other countries. The Office of International Programs (oIP) may assist you in this process. Please contact the oIP for more Visa information.
A: The program covers costs for two meals per day, or fourteen meals per week. Each week, you will be given money for food (70 euros per week), enough for a dorm-style breakfast and either lunch or dinner that you prepare in your dorm. You will be on your own for one meal each day.
Each Monday evening, each student who shows up to the required meeting will be given 70 euros to cover the costs of your two meals per day. We expect that you will use this money to buy groceries and cook in the residence; it is not expected to cover the cost of eating out for two meals per day.
A: Visit the JMU Housing in Antwerp page for complete information about the apartments.
A: Yes. You will be given a simple cell phone for mainly local text messaging and phone calling purposes.
A: Yes. There are two major theatres in Antwerp. The UGC theatre is a ten minute walk from the dorm room. There are 14 screens, and you can see the major new releases, in the original language, with Flemish and French subtitles. Since most new films come from Hollywood, that means that most of the films are in English. You can get a movie pass to see five films for 25 euros, which is not a bad deal.
A: No. For the program, you will be able to get by with walking everywhere.
However, for about 20-25 euros per month, you can get a transportation pass that will allow you to use all trams and buses in Flanders (northern Belgium). This is a good idea, especially if you want to see more of Antwerp that what is available by foot.
A: You will receive 70 euros per week. Please review the meal information provided elsewhere in this FAQ.
A: You will be given two towels in the residence. However, you may want to bring a wash cloth and a beach towel..
A: Yes. Bring a battery powered alarm clock. You are responsible for waking yourself up and getting places on time.
A: Yes, though they will have to stay in a nearby hotel (it is against the JMU Semester in Antwerp policy to let anyone other than JMU semester in Antwerp students into your apartment). Also, visitors may not accompany the group on field trips, as we are already very large, which complicates tours.
It has been our experience that visiting friends and family members cause considerable stress to the student they are visiting, as that student grapples with school work and tour guide duties. Often, student academic performance suffers.
A: Yes. Complete information is contained in the Student Guide. In brief, there is a doctor on campus for one or two hours each day in the student health center, and visits here are free. There is a family doctor we recommend two minutes away from your dorm, and the University of Antwerp has a medical school hospital that will accept American insurance plans. There are also dentists and other medical specialists in the area.
A: Yes. We will teach you a bit of "survival Flemish," so you can, say, read train schedules, and we will also provide you with a Flemish/English restaurant guide. But you will soon discover that almost everyone speaks English, that many restaurants have an English menu, that TV shows are broadcast in English with Flemish subtitles, and that you will have little to no difficulty talking with people.
Why does everyone speak English in Antwerp? Because there are very few people who speak Flemish on this planet. To communicate with the rest of the world, native Flemish speakers learn other languages, of which English is perhaps the most important. Belgian students who attend UFSIA likely speak four languages fluently: French, German, English, and, of course, Flemish. To be a cashier at McDonald's, you need to speak at least three languages (French, English, and Flemish). Language study is a matter of survival in Flemish speaking Belgium. This is not the case in the United States, which is why we are generally so poor at speaking other languages. You will notice that people in France and Germany, in particular, will speak a lot less English than people in Antwerp.
A: Here is the address:
A: The apartments are as safe as you will make them. To make the apartments even safer, we have the following rule. You are not allowed to bring any friend/family member up to your apartment for any reason. You will be immediately sent home if we learn of this violation, without any warnings. If you want your parents to see your apartment, arrange for a guided visit with the FMIR.
Why so heavy handed about this rule? When one person allows someone who is not a student on to the dorm floor, everyone else is put at risk. JMU has learned this by sad experience. In other programs, students who have let strangers into the dorm areas have awakened to find that many students were robbed during the night, and that their "friend" was the responsible party. Especially if you have been drinking, and bring home someone you just met at a bar. This puts everyone in the building at risk, and is why we forbid anyone other than JMU semester in Antwerp students from entering the dorm areas.