Luke Sikorski - 2007 Program Participant

While studying Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, Luke spent the Fall of 2007 studying in Brussels, Belgium. This experience not only allowed him to travel extensively through Europe, but also helped expand his fluency in the French language and begin to open his eyes to the wonderful world we live in.

Luke enjoying exploring Brussels while studying abroad in Belgium.
Luke enjoying exploring Brussels while studying abroad in Belgium.

Why did you want to study abroad in Belgium?

I chose to study in Belgium because it was a place I not only could continue studying the French language, but also was the perfect place for someone studying International Relations.

What made you choose CIEE and/or your specific program focus in Liberal Arts?

CIEE was recommended to me through Seton Hall University, where I did my undergrad studies. The CIEE Brussels program had a focus in International Relations and I knew 100% of the credits I received would transfer back. I also had heard wonderful feedback about CIEE and their programs, so it just seemed like the right fit.

What was a normal day like studying in Brussels?

I really felt immersed given that I had an apartment right in the city, arranged by CIEE and included in the program costs. I would travel by metro to the university each day, which took about 20 to 30 minutes. After classes, and if I didn't have immediate work to do, my roommate and I would play frisbee in the Parc de Cinquantenaire around the corner from our apartment. We then would go shopping at the supermarket to buy food for whatever we decided to cook. Every meal was complete with a different bottle of wine from a different region. Most nights we would also invite other people from the program over. Everyone had a different type of accommodation so it was fun exploring everyone's "home" for the semester we were there.

What are the things you miss the most from Brussel? Belgium in general?

Honestly, I miss the beer and experiencing a city that is truly bilingual. It’s amazing to live in a city amidst the most peaceful ethnic conflict currently on this planet. I miss seeing the Flemish and French-speaking Walloons live in a city completely peacefully, even though they disagree politically and one is fighting for independence.

What lessons or things did you learn while interacting with the locals?

I really did learn that no matter how much people might disagree politically, ethnically, socially, etc., we are all human beings and can live and share the same space without violence. I got a lot of great perspectives from locals I talked to and believe that other conflicts currently going on can learn from the approach going on in Belgium.

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

To be completely honest, there isn't a single thing I would change. All the trips, cultural outings, classes, etc. were everything I ever wanted to get out of a study abroad experience.

Did you experience reverse culture shock upon re-entry?

With regards to reverse culture-shock, I did experience it as a lot happened within my core group of friends while I was gone. I never lost any friendships, but there certainly was a lot they went through that I was absent for.

How did interning abroad in Europe affect life after your program?

In terms of interning, this actually helped me get a summer internship at the UN, as my experience interning in Europe helped me develop skills in working with different cultures from a business perspective.

Describe your program in three words.

Adventure, life-changing, educational.