Discover the richness of Europe and experience a vibrant cosmopolitan city through SIS Intercultural Study Abroad’s immersive program in Brussels. Engage in intercultural dialogue with Europe’s most diverse city and expand your global perspective during a semester abroad.
In Brussels, our program combines French language courses with content tailored to the city’s cosmopolitan nature. Students also have the opportunity to participate in service learning activities and internships. Immerse yourself fully by living with local host families and join exciting excursions and activities throughout the term.
All SIS courses in Brussels are accredited at Portland State University, ensuring academic recognition for your study abroad experience. Explore the dynamic heart of Europe with SIS Intercultural Study Abroad in Brussels.
Winter Term 2023: Wednesday, Dec. 27th – Sunday, Jan. 14th (CLICK for more info on Winter Term)
Spring 2024: Sunday, Feb. 18th – Sunday, May 12th*
Special trip to Tangier (Spring Semester only): May 12th – May 19th
Maymester 2024: Friday, May 17th – Sunday, June 2nd (CLICK for more info on Maymester)
Summer 2024: Friday, May 17th – Sunday, June 26th
Fall 2024: Sunday, Sept. 22nd – Sunday, Dec. 14th
* The Spring semester is followed by a special trip to Tangier, Morocco to complement the intercultural experience in Brussels. The entire duration of the semester is therefore to be considered from February 14th to May 19th. For more info, click here
The Brussels program in is designed to last 12 weeks (85 days). This makes it easier for students to come to Belgium without applying for a visa, making their program application process much easier and allowing us to keep the deadlines open for longer.
PLEASE NOTE: Given this special configuration, once students arrive at the end of the program, students MUST DEPART FOR THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO STAY IN EUROPE. The Spring Semester the includes a trip to Morocco. Students will leave directly from Tangier to return home. Stopovers at European airports are allowed if for transit.
SIS Approach in Brussels
SIS Intercultural Study Abroad created the EUFICCS intercultural education model (European Use of Full Immersion, Culture, Content, Service approach for Language Learning). This has been put into practice during the last 20 years in Siena. Brussels is now one of the new intercultural spaces for this approach. While maintaining its structure, we will adapt EUFICCS to the characteristics of the city of Brussels. This will allow us not only to frame more effectively the immersion experience in a city and country very different from Siena and Italy, but will also be the way to test and expand it in a new context characterized by the speaking of multiple languages (precisely French, Dutch, and German) and more diversity. Brussels is the second most cosmopolitan city after Dubai and the home of a number of European institutions.
Language immersion for everyone!
As Belgium is de facto a trilingual country, we would like our students to be able to learn the two main languages, namely French and Dutch. For more practical reasons, we would like to favor the use of French as it is the lingua franca with over 90% of the inhabitants being able to speak it. French is the language mostly used in formal and informal settings and is also the language of many of our host families. Students will therefore take French language courses coupled with also a lot of activities and opportunities for conversation. However, we want our students to have the possibility of full access to the country’s identity, so we will also offer a Survival Dutch course. This will help students to broaden the range of communication situations they might find themselves when interacting with people in Brussels (for example during different Service Learning activities) and orient themselves in the rest of the country as well.
After meeting the group on the arrival day at Zaventem Airport, SIS staff will accompany the group to Brussels and introduce them to their host families. Orientation activities take place in the days that follow.
Host Families in Siena and Brussels
We believe that there is no better way to experience local culture than living with locals. Students will experience Europe’s diversity in many ways, including exposure to daily life in both Belgian and international host families. What is special about this city is that indeed most of its inhabitants are non-Belgians. This scenario will give students the opportunity to acquire the know-how to live in the city from both perspectives of native Brusseleers and non-native Brusseleers. We beleive that the diversity among host families can be both an added value for students who already speak another language such as Dutch, Spanish, or Russian. Host families also represent an important element in ensuring the personal safety of all of our students. We carefully select host families so that students will have local experts to help them navigate the cities and cultures.
During orientation, students get to know the city of Brussels, each other, and staff. They will be introduced to various aspects of the upcoming semester. They will start exploring the intriguing, sometimes contradictory, characteristics of Belgium the contemporary culture. Orientation also includes a series of group activities, as well as a historical tour of the oldest part of the city.
Intensive French 1-Week Course
The Intensive Course is a 25-hour front-loaded language course that prepares students for daily life in Brussels. This first week of the semester is dedicated to learning French, exploring the city, visiting service sites and getting to know the host families. Everyone coming to Brussels with SIS, on any semester track with the exception of the Multi-destination Programs, will complete the intensive French Course.
Academics & Service-Learning
The Standard Academic track offers French language, the Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection course, and a choice between 2 or 3 academic content courses from our official course list.
Students that choose the Service-intensive track, will take French Language and Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection, however they will choose 1 or 2 academic content courses to allow for additional time during the week for service-learning experiences.
Students in the Internship program will take the intensive French course the first week and the Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection course throughout the semester. For the rest of their time in Brussels, they will work full-time at their internship site.
Service is a pillar of SIS programs, as it provides opportunities for enriching linguistic and cultural experience for students. All students, in any semester track, will participate in Service-Learning throughout their time in Brussels to become active participants in the community and develop their global citizenship skills.
Program Track Options
SIS Intercultural Study Abroad courses are divided into five basic course categories. Please note that actual course offerings vary each semester based on student demand and enrollment numbers. Please feel free to inquire about course availability email@example.com.
All students choosing the Standard Academic formula are required to take French Language, the Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection course and 2-3 content courses depending on their chosen semester track.
All of our courses are accredited by Portland State University (PSU).
Volunteering in the community is an unparalleled way to improve language skills, get involved in the local social fabric and make a genuine contribution to the host community. Service-Learning is an integral part anche of the intercultural study abroad experience in Brussels. Service can range from 1-5 hours a week and opportunities are in a variety of different service sites. The community that can be reached in Brussels is very diverse and this offers a wide range of opportunities for intercultural encounters. The following is an offer that we have created for students who would like an increased experience with service.
Students who choose to come to Brussels through the Service-intensive track, will still take French Language and Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection, but will choose 1-2 academic content courses to allow for additional time during the week for service-learning.
Inquire with us to know the latest service option in Brussels! firstname.lastname@example.org
Students can also choose to have a full-time internship experience while following SIS language courses. SIS works with European NGOs that are based in Brussels and deal with all the nuances of European agenda. Internship sites can vary from among a selection of NGOs and associations according to the students’ area of study and interests. The nature of internship work depends on the students interests however SIS works mostly with NGO’s that focus on the objectives of advocacy, policy making, and communication campaigns.
Students enrolled in the internship program will follow the one week French Intensive Language course during the first week of orientation and follow the Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy, and Global Citizenship through Reflection throughout the program. However, since this is a very demanding track (in terms of time commitment), the possibility of doing an internship in Brussels with SIS is limited to 5 available places according to the semester.
Activities and Excursions
With SIS Intercultural Study Abroad, learning is not limited to the classroom. Whenever possible, we integrate field excursions and museum visits to enhance comprehension and provide students with a multifaceted experience.
- Courses that deal with historical-political, legal, and socio-anthropological aspects of the Brussels and Belgium will certainly include visits to city museums, tours to specific and unexplored areas of the city, tastings of typical products ( fries, beer, chocolate, and waffles for example), and day trips to nearby cities (e.g. Waterloo, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp).
- Courses that instead deal with subjects related to the European Union and its agenda will certainly include a visit to European institutions including the Parliament, The European Commission and the Council of the European Union, but also conferences at different NGOs (some of which will also be potential Internship placements for our students) whose goal is to influence the European agenda around specific topics.
The following excursions are included during semester programs in Brussels:
- 1-day trip within Belgium – destinations (Antwerp, Bruges, Gand, Waterloo) change from semester to semester and may be subject to change; please contact us for current details.
- 1-week trip to Tangier (Spring Semester only)
Trip to Tangier, Morocco (Spring Semester)
The trip to Tangier (Morocco) at the end of the program is designed to deepen our students’ experience and academic learning. Nine percent of non Belgians in Brussels are from Morocco making Moroccans the third most present nationality among foreigners. A lot of them call Schaerbeek their home: it is first, second and third generation Moroccans who have established their lives in Brussels and reshaped their identities. SIS Intercultural Study Abroad program in Brussels also has its headquarters and the majority of host families and service sites in the neighborhood of Schaerbeek. To give full resonance to this multicultural aspect of the city and understand the tangle of relationships between Brussels (more particularly the neighborhood of Schaerbeek) and Morocco we decided to incorporate into the semester a trip to Tangier where the students will explore the country, admire its beauty, colors and flavors, and compare stories and experiences gathered in Brussels. While in Tangier SIS students will be hosted at the UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND beautiful campus where they will also attend a few lectures that will help them to conclude their experience. Starting from Brussels/Schaerbeek and finishing in Morocco represents a unique opportunity to experience diversity through different lenses.
Inquire at email@example.com for information on prices and more!