I wanted to study at a graduate school abroad on an English-speaking programme where I could study International Political Economy and learn French on the side.
I knew Brussels was an international city but I underestimated how it is truly the city to be in for international relations in Europe. I felt like I got to live the news and had a front row seat for political developments in the EU, This gave me an understanding you could never get from just reading about it in an article or textbook.
BSIS has such an international student body and my peers would actively challenge my assumptions and world view during class discussions. That aspect really helped strengthen my understanding of global politics and later gave me a leg up professionally.
I'm contracted at the U.S. Department of State where I work in the Overseas Security Advisory Council - a public-private partnership office where I collaborate on security issues in Europe.
At BSIS I received an internship at the Transatlantic Business Council through the Key to Advance connections as my boss was a BSIS Alumnus. I really wanted to stay in Belgium after graduation, but I ended up reaching out to an old contact from a previous internship and taking a job that allowed me to keep my security clearance and get my foot in the door at State. I was promoted to Program Manager and now I have a really rewarding job that I've had for almost four years!
All of the non-academic experiences are valuable, so take advantage of as many as you can! On one of my courses we went to Parliament to see the EU-Vietnam trade deal being negotiated, and in another class we took a trip to NATO to hear a presentation on how it works. You can learn a lot just by being there and going to talks, roundtables, happy hours, etc so take advantage of it while you can.