Outgoing: Eugénie Rieu at the Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

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Eugénie Rieu is currently enrolled in her 3rd year of medical studies at the University of Bordeaux, which she spent at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.

Photo : Eugénie Rieu © université de Bordeaux
Eugénie Rieu © université de Bordeaux

Why did you choose to carry out a mobility experience?

Studying abroad has always been one of my dreams, so as soon as I was able to apply for an Erasmus+ mobility, I immediately inquired about the procedure and decided to give it a shot.

Brussels wasn’t my first choice as I had initially hoped to go to Norway, however Norwegian universities don’t accept students who haven’t yet completed a minimum of 3 years in higher education.

I therefore decided to go to the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), as after looking into the university, I discovered that their Faculty of Medecine has a very good reputation, and also has an equivalent level to Bordeaux.

I left at the beginning of September 2022 and spent the entire academic year in Brussels, until June 2023.

What are the main differences you have identified between studying in France and Belgium?

The courses on offer at ULB prepare students for the second cycle of medical studies, while also allowing them to discover new and interesting subjects. In terms of teaching style, in Bordeaux subjects are grouped by organ system, meaning students have several different teachers, whereas at ULB classes cover anatomy, physiology, etc., and are taught by a few teachers only.

ULB students can also take courses over several years, which often leads to conflicting course and exam timetables and makes organising exams quite complex. Exams are scheduled over several weeks, unlike in Bordeaux where they are usually all organised the same week. This means that students in Bordeaux can take their catch-up exams in June and then take a real break during the summer, whereas ULB students have to wait until August.

The teaching of semiology is also different. In Bordeaux, students are divided into small groups in order to learn how to practise medicine. At ULB, there is very little practice prior to the 4th year, except for anatomy classes during which students dissect the body themselves, which helps them visualise the anatomical structures.

I'd advise anyone who's hesitant or wondering whether they'll succeed abroad to take the leap and embark on an Erasmus+ exchange, because it truly is an unforgettable and unique experience.

How would you describe your experience?

In three words, I would say that it was a unique, enriching and challenging experience. Brussels is a rich city, bringing together many nationalities, both European and non-European. It's true that Belgian and French culture culture are very similar, but there are also many differences (including fries!).

There were difficult moments as well as extraordinary moments, among which I count my Belgian encounters, but none of the difficulties I faced made me regret leaving. I advise everyone who's hesitant or wondering if they will succeed abroad to take the leap and embark on an Erasmus+ exchange, because it truly is an unforgettable and unique experience.