Overview | Academics | Cost | Location | Life Abroad | Student Voices
Offered through the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), the Business, Communications and Culture (BCC) program is co-sponsored by UW-Madison. Participants take courses at Vesalius College, a small institution. Vesalius is affiliated with the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and is located on the VUB campus in an area south of Brussels. Of the 350 students who attend Vesalius, approximately one-third are Belgian nationals and the two-thirds remainder are from more than 60 other countries. This program is especially suited for students majoring in international studies, communications, and economics who have a keen interest in the European Union. Students also have the option of applying to participate in an internship for academic credit while on the program. Placements for the internship are competitive and are not guaranteed.
In recent years, Brussels has emerged as the "Capital of Europe" in political and economic terms. Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and thus is at the forefront of European integration and European Union policy. Brussels is also one of the most international cities in Europe; its diversity is reflected in its interesting neighborhoods, excellent restaurants, numerous cultural festivals, and various languages. French is the dominant language, however, Dutch is also widely spoken and English is commonly understood.
In recent years, Brussels has emerged as the "Capital of Europe" in political and economic terms. Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and thus is at the forefront of European integration and European Union policy. Brussels is also one of the most international cities in Europe; its diversity is reflected in its interesting neighborhoods, excellent restaurants, numerous cultural festivals, and various languages. French is the dominant language; however, Dutch (Flemish) and English are widely spoken.
Getting to Your Program
Participants are responsible for arranging round-trip transportation to the program site. CIEE will provide you with an arrival document describing the suggested arrival day and what to do once you do arrive.
A student visa is required. U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of the program. CIEE will provide you with visa information.
OrientationIAP expects you to be an active participant in preparing yourself for your study abroad experience. As a participant on an IAP program, you will receive a pre-departure orientation, either in-person or online. The type and format of this orientation will vary by program and will be provided to you upon acceptance to the program.
After you arrive onsite, there is a mandatory three-day orientation organized and conducted by the Resident Director. The orientation introduces students to the country, its culture, and the academic program, and provides practical information about living in Brussels. It includes both structured activities and independent sightseeing.
HousingAll housing is included in the program fee, including temporary accommodation in a youth hostel during orientation. Housing options include a limited number of homestays available with families from a variety of linguistic backgrounds or independent rooms with or without other students and shared common spaces with landlords. Housing is mainly located southeast of central Brussels. An excellent public transportation system makes it easy to commute, but you should anticipate having a commute to classes. Final housing placements are made on-site at the beginning of the semester.
Excursions and Activities
Participants take part in a three-day orientation conducted in Brussels. The orientation introduces students to Belgium and Brussels, provides practical information about daily life and the academic program, and enables participants and staff to get to know one another.
Extracurricular activities and occasional group excursions are organized throughout the semester. In previous semesters, day trips have included Bruges, Luxembourg, Ypres, Bastogne, and Aachen as well as weekend excursions to France and Germany. Day trips to the European Parliament and Commission in Brussels, the European Investment Bank or the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg have also taken place. Regular outings are taken to see French and other European films. Participants have access to sports facilities at VUB and may participate in student clubs and activities at Vesalius as well as at ULB and VUB.
You will be enrolled in the UW System required health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) and the cost of the insurance coverage is included in program fees.
CIEE Brussels Study Center director and staff
Returned Student Network
to see testimonials from students abroad or to contact a returned student.
"Brussels is an interesting location linguistically, politically and historically. No matter your major, you will leave Brussels with a well-rounded understanding of the region."
Vesalius College is unique in that it is the only institution that offers courses taught in English at the undergraduate level. Since it is a small college, there is a low student-to-faculty ratio. Course options are small so you need to be prepared to have flexibility in your course selection. Through its association with the French speaking Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Dutch speaking VUB, students with adequate French or Dutch skills may take or audit courses at these institutions. All students take five courses including the CIEE core course, French or Dutch language, and three Vesalius, ULB or VUB courses. Participants select courses from various offerings including business, communications, political science, international studies, French, Dutch, and more. Placement in the appropriate language level is based on language exams administered at the beginning of the program by Vesalius College. Vesalius College also offers for-credit and unpaid internship opportunities to juniors and seniors, who are awarded a letter grade upon completion. CIEE participants may apply for available slots, but placements are competitive.
Program Web Page(s)
Use the links below to see a list of courses that students have taken on this program before and the UW equivalents. Note: this list only includes pre-approved courses for your program and may not be an exhaustive list of courses or departments. You will get instructions on the course equivalent process after acceptance.
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