Hello everyone! My name is Nabila Mella and I am an International Relations major with a double minor in Public Health and French at the University of Rochester. I am originally from the Dominican Republic (DR) and am currently studying abroad this Fall 2019 semester in Brussels, Belgium.
I’ve always known I wanted to study abroad—even before I went to college. I firmly believe that living in different places and experiencing different cultures is essential for our development and growth—it forms character. When you find yourself in a foreign place, surrounded by a different language and culture than what you’re used to, it can definitely be daunting. However, learning how to “adult” in a different country really takes you out of your comfort zone and makes adulting back home a piece of cake.
One of the main reasons why I’m studying abroad is to practice my French, especially my conversational French. In my experience, immersion is the best way to practice a language. Before coming to the United States (US) for college, I learned English in school, but I never became truly “fluent” in conversational English until I was in college surrounded by it. I’m hoping the same happens with my French.
I came to Brussels because I wanted to gain experience working abroad. In an ever-globalizing world, it is important to know how to work within different systems—and what better way of doing that within my field of study than coming to the political capital of Europe. Aside from being the “heart of Europe,” Brussels is a charming city. It is quite diverse, not too big nor too small, and so many other cities are just a bus or train ride away. It has beautiful parks, street art, and of course, waffles.
I was already familiar with studying abroad when I came to Brussels. As I mentioned before, I am from Dominican Republic, so coming to the US for college was a colossal change for me. However, because I have lived in two different places already, not only do I compare Belgium to the DR, but I also compare it to the US. One of the biggest culture shocks for me has been public transport within Brussels and throughout Europe, which in my opinion is more effective than everywhere else I’ve been.
I recommend that everyone studies abroad. I honestly cannot think of a better way to learn about life, the world, yourself, and your interests than studying abroad. Whether you decide to do so or not, it is important to take care of yourself everywhere you go. I journal and schedule weekly calls with my family and friends in order to keep in contact and avoid feeling lonely or homesick. I wish you all the best of all with everything.
Peace and blessings,
Nabila Mella, University of Rochester
Class of 2020
Brussels, Fall 2019