About Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a small, walkable city with a population of approximately 146,000 in the central district, and over 1 million in the greater Brussels area. Brussels is a city of fine food, café culture, and architectural gems from the medieval to the modern age. It is home to numerous museums of art, history and science, as well as quirkier finds like the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and the Centre for Comic Strip Arts. Brussels is a multicultural city that has two official languages—French and Dutch—and is the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union.

The Program

Hobart and William Smith Colleges maintain an affiliation with Vesalius College, an English language division of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Vesalius has an enrollment of approximately 300 students from over 50 nations and is part of a larger university community of 10,000 students scattered through the city of Brussels. Students may take courses in communications, economics, European studies, history, international relations, politics, and sociology. A centerpiece of the program is a credit-bearing, intensive internship with a European organization, arranged for the students by Vesalius College. (Note that internship placements are competitive and are not guaranteed.)


All students will take four courses, including a language course (either French of Dutch) at an appropriate level. Students with an internship placement will select two electives from the Vesalius course catalog while others will select three electives. Detailed course lists are available by clicking here.

Academic Focus

This program will be of particular interest to students in economics, history, political science, peace studies, international relations, and all aspects of media studies. Courses are also available in art history, linguistics and writing. Internships are offered with a wide-range of agencies from NGOs, to financial organizations, communications firms, legal/political and other institutions.


This program is open to juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing who have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.


Students are typically housed in homestays with local Belgian families. All host families speak English and are within commuting distance of the University. Each student has his/her own bedroom. Host families provide breakfast daily and dinner on weeknights. Students have access to host-family kitchens to prepare their own meals (or they may choose to eat out) for lunch daily and for dinners at the weekend. Alternatively, HWS students may apply for a spot in an on-campus residence hall. Be advised that there are a very limited number of spots available and placement is not guaranteed.


Excursions are not included in this program unless students enroll in ART 361 (the additional fee for this course is included in the cost of the program). Art 361 students will travel to six different European cities for day trips and a number of extended weekends. All travel expenses and admission fees are included on this trip. Students not enrolled in this course can plan their own cultural and personal expeditions in Belgium and beyond with the help of local travel agencies and advice from program staff.

Going Abroad With the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and room fees, a 1/2 board fee and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover tuition for a four-course semester, room, internship placement if applicable and two meals a day on weekdays (breakfast and dinner) while in Brussels in their homestay. Students should plan to bring half of their board with them (approximately $1400) to cover lunches and meals on weekends. (Note that residence halls are self-catering. Students placed there will bring their board money with them to cover meal expenses.) Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books, visa and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, ground transportation and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at $1100—$1300 from the East Coast, books at $250 and visa at $120. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1,500 above and beyond meal expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.


Application Deadline

  • This program is offered every fall semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office on a selected date in October. For specific dates contact the CGE.

NOTE: The information above is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.


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