Stephany Garcia Henao (USA)

"Howest has opened doors to help me know myself better on a personal and professional level."

Stephany Garcia Henao (USA)

Bachelor Industrial Product Design

Howest has opened doors to help me know myself better on a personal and professional level.

Diana Martinez (Mexico)

"For me studying at Howest was more than studying abroad..."

Diana Martinez (Mexico)

Bachelor Industrial Product Design

It was about learning by doing inside the classrooms, laughing instead of stressing out with my colleagues every time something didn’t go as expected. Other experiences in my past (and future) will never match my experience of studying at Howest.

Jessica Navarro (USA)

"Howest was such a welcoming community, from the faculty and professors to my fellow students"

Jessica Navarro (USA)

My time abroad gave me so much insight into myself, it was the best decision I have ever taken. Howest was such a welcoming community, from the faculty and professors to my fellow students. The culture that Howest cultivates for its international students in nothing short of exceptional.

Sabine Steffens (Austria)

"What really surprised me though was how fast I was able to make friends and build a social network here"

Sabine Steffens (Austria)

If I had to describe my exchange semester in Bruges to someone, I probably wouldn’t even really know where to start because I associate so many memories with it. It was exciting, surprising, emotional, fun, and all around a great experience.

Going to another country and not knowing what to expect can be thrilling and a little bit scary but, personally, I only had positive and excited feelings towards starting this journey to Belgium. It took me over 9 hours and some paperwork to get here, but once I had entered the city I immediately fell in love with Bruges’ charm and beautiful architecture. Experiencing another mentality and culture was also really interesting as the Belgians are actually different from what I expected. 

What really surprised me though was how fast I was able to make friends and build a social network here. Being an Erasmus student and spending a lot of my time with other internationals made it pretty easy to find connections and befriend people from all over the world – and some Belgians too! These friendships might actually be the most important and precious thing that I am taking away from this semester and hopefully they will last me for a long or even a lifetime. 

I made incredible memories with my friend group, like cycling over an hour to the beach, travelling through France or exploring Belgian cities! Obviously, we also ate our way through the Belgian cuisine and took part in some fun beer-tasting activities and party nights. If anybody tells me they are scared or hesitant to do an exchange semester abroad because they might feel lonely or not find people to hang out with, I can only tell them the complete opposite! At least for an exchange semester at Howest it is basically guaranteed that you will meet others and make friends because Howest actually does a lot to get people connected and organise bonding experiences. There is also a support system of international coordinators and lecturers who have tried their best to make this stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for me, which I really appreciate. Studying at Howest as an international student is great as the schedule is relaxed enough to still enjoy your free time and explore the country, but also interesting and diverse enough to gain lots of new knowledge and get insight into some aspects that your home university might not deal with in your regular study programme.

Overall, I have to say that going to Bruges for my semester abroad and studying Applied Health & Lifestyle Sciences here was for sure the right decision and helped me make unexpected experiences and grow as a person.
 

Marie Essert (Austria)

"Coming to a country I had never been in and studying at Howest challenged me in ways I never expected"

Marie Essert (Austria)

Going on an exchange semester sucks - but it is the best decision I have ever made. Why? Coming to a country I had never been in and studying at Howest challenged me in ways I never expected. Every day I had to get out of my comfort zone and was confronted with cultural differences and language barriers. During the last five months, I grew so much as a person and I know I would have never had the same growth if I had not taken the step to go to Kortrijk. I was not only able to grow my academic knowledge, but also my knowledge of cultures, languages and people skills. 

While on an exchange, it seems like everyone has one shared thing in their DNA: the love of experiences. No matter if it is cycling to France, bouldering together, taking the train to London, going to karaoke, or just drinking Belgian beers – it is never boring with such amazing people surrounding you. 

When you decide to go on an exchange at Howest, you might expect to just do a semester abroad. But it is so much more: you will meet the best people from all over the world and call Belgium your new home.

Kaisa Gutman (Estonia)

"Howest's staff and lecturers are smart, respectful and understanding, and a solution can be found together for every problem. "

Kaisa Gutman (Estonia)

In my case, being part of an Erasmus program and moving with my family to Belgium to study in Howest (Brugge) is quite unique. Coming abroad to study with family and young children takes a good piece of courage and planning in advance, but it has made us and me stronger and more determined as a family and as a person. Yes, it has been challenging and sometimes there have been obstacles, but it was all worth it. 

Studying in Howest has been useful, experiential and educational. While following the Health and Lifestyle sciences programme, I also learned new skills and learned that I am capable of more. Especially educational and the most enjoyable and favorite courses were eHealth, Solution-Focused Health Coaching, Entrepreneurship and Trends, and a personal development course.

Howest's staff and lecturers are smart, respectful and understanding, and a solution can be found together for every problem. 

My fellow students have been nice, friendly and good communicators. Regardless of the age difference, all of the students communicated freely and in a friendly way, which made integration very easy. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to study in Howest. 

Conrad Kagoro (Uganda)

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Conrad Kagoro (Uganda)

It was really a hustle getting all my documents in time for my maiden European experience. Being the first Exchange Student from Uganda at Howest gives me so much delight and gratification because I believe I am going back to Uganda with a lot of life-changing ideas, plus having a European Certificate on my CV is going to take me places I had never dreamt of. How cool is that?

I came to Belgium during the pandemic, and I expected that I would have a different experience than students from previous years.

The Erasmus experience has given me the opportunity to see life a little bit differently as well as grow professionally. I am so grateful to everyone that made this possible. I am already a Howest Ambassador to Uganda. It’s so exciting!

I have really enjoyed myself here in all aspects of life. The people are lovely, and sociable. I will always keep the kindness in my heart always.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie the Pooh.

Diana Martinez (Mexico)

"Studying at Howest helped me to discover new ways of working in teams and individually."

Diana Martinez (Mexico)

I had the opportunity to study at Howest  in the Collaborative Design Studio program 2021.

I would describe this experience in three words; exciting, challenging and new… and also extremely fun.

Studying at Howest helped me to discover new ways of working in teams and individually. I learned to work with machines and methods that I had never used before and I dared to get involved in projects and activities that I was afraid of. These were the things I learned the most from.

I got to meet not only other Industrial Designers from countries such as Turkey, Spain, Colombia, US, Netherlands and of course from Belgium, but also awesome people studying DAE, MCT, Journalism and Occupational Therapy. 

I arrived to Belgium feeling not that confident in myself as a student, but my teachers, classmates, and now good-friend- for-life, made me realize that I was capable of doing everything I want to do.
For me, studying at Howest was more than studying abroad , it was about learning by doing inside the classrooms, laughing instead of stressing out with my colleagues every time something didn't go as expected.
Other experiences in my past (and future) will never match my experience of studying at Howest.
 

Barbara Veit (Austria)

"One of the best times in my life!"

Barbara Veit (Austria)

When I think about my Erasmus semester a lot comes to my mind. Adventure, frightening, educative, joy and – most important – one of the best times in my life!

From week one, there was not a single day that I regretted my decision. Because the international community at Howest is open-minded and very welcoming, I found new friends very easily. Together we enjoyed the sunset at the Leie, a bike-trip to France, visiting different cities, dancing in the “uitgaansbuurt” of Kortrijk, and cooking different traditional meals. Furthermore, we supported each other during stressful times at university and celebrated successful projects and exams afterwards.

Of course, it is hard to leave one’s new home after the semester. However, I know that we will see us again and that I will always have a place to stay all over the world.
 

Stephany Garcia Henao (USA)

"I can still call Kortrijk my second home"

Stephany Garcia Henao (USA)

Howest has opened doors to help me know myself better on a personal and professional level. Having time to travel and study at the same time is something I never thought could have been possible and I am grateful that Howest encourages students to do so. As a full-year Erasmus-Exchange student, I feel fulfilled with the programs I am doing (IPO). After one semester, I can still call Kortrijk my second home.

Amer al Qadah (Turkey/Palestine)

"An Erasmus+ experience is certainly a journey that you will tell your grandchildren about!"

Amer al Qadah (Turkey/Palestine)

Going to Erasmus was one of my university goals. Getting to do that in Belgium, at one of its most innovative universities (Howest), was something to be grateful for. It was an experience of a lifetime! Especially during our study time, with all the extraordinary (corona) circumstances - and with all of the stories with people that were like family! 

If there were one piece of advice that I could give to students, it would be to go on more journeys that make you find yourself. An Erasmus+ experience is certainly a journey that you will tell your grandchildren about!
 

Marconi Melissa (Italy)

"If it was forever it wouldn't have been so special"

Marconi Melissa (Italy)

Everybody that had been on Erasmus told me "You will find a new family there," but I was like "No way it's going to happen, I already have my safe place at home."

It didn't take long to change my mind completely. These people...I can't really explain. It's like we were meant to meet. They have been part of my life for 5 months and I can't believe it's over. I found caring, kind and special friends. Each of them will have a place in my heart. It's true and sad that Erasmus has an ending point, but as a wise girl told me on our last night together:  "If it was forever it wouldn't have been so special."
 

Doğan Mert Güven (Turkey)

"I made friendships along the way that'll hopefully last a lifetime"

Doğan Mert Güven (Turkey)

I always wanted to see more, hear more and experience more of Europe. Erasmus allowed me to do just that. I made friendships along the way that'll hopefully last a lifetime. I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort-zones and travel all over the world! 

Laura Rabasco Hernández (Spain)

"Devine Intervention"

Laura Rabasco Hernández (Spain)

I feel very fortunate to say that I have been one of the first international students to have the opportunity to study the Design and Development English Bachelor Howest program. And you may never guess, but this picture was actually taken inside Campus Buda located in Kortrijk! (Yes, they have a seesaw next to the main classrooms)!

Howest is all about getting the best out of each student, pushing them out of the box and helping them excel in fields they would never expect to. The creative environment, the friendly touch of the teachers and the interesting projects makes the Devine English degree a really wonderful experience. Besides that, there is a wonderful team of professionals working at STUVO, willing to help the students with any issue or complication we might be facing.

I must say that it is not an easy degree: you need to invest time and give the best that you can offer every day, but all of it will be rewarded. This is just the first year and I'm amazed at how much I have learnt and improved, I promise it is worth the effort. 

My classmates have been a blessing during this course, we give each other feedback and share our tricks in order to be helpful and grow up as a team. I can't say much about the social life at the campus due to the Corona situation we all have been living in, but I can't wait to see what the following years are going to be like! 

Aleksandra Antonova Nikolova (Spain)

"Everything changes, your environment, the language, your daily life, but most importantly, you!"

Aleksandra Antonova Nikolova (Spain)

I never doubted when ex- Erasmus students told me how life changing it is to go studying abroad, but I didn't realize how true that is until I experienced a whole year as an exchange student in Kortrijk. Everything changes, your environment, the language, your daily life, but most importantly, you! In my case, I got to know my pitfalls and biggest insecurities, so I tried to improve everything I could from my personality, I expanded my horizons to the limit and always went out of my comfort zone. I met the most amazing people, the ones I call nowadays best friends and family, we had connection even before meeting in person, by chatting online! We pushed each other to travel, develop, organize and create new experiences together. Of course there were challenges to face, especially the coronavirus crisis this year! That is why with my mates, we tried to keep always the positive aspects: how much knowledge we gained from HOWEST and therefore we developed a much more interesting CV, for our professional future. At the end, I can proudly say that this year was the happiest of my life and I can't wait to put to practice everything learned and to talk about Kortrijk and HOWEST to everyone!

Alexandra Vujkovic

"What makes BIT such a unique and great programme is the combination of subjects. All are different, but very relevant for the work field."

Alexandra Vujkovic

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

Dear Alexandra, tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Hi! I’m Alexandra Vujkovic, born in 1996 in Serbia. When I was a young girl, my parents decided to emmigrate to Belgium. Growing up, I grew eager to learn about all facets of human (infectious) diseases. More specifically, I felt a strong affinity toward diseases that receive ‘little’ attention from the research community (i.e., neglected tropical diseases like Leishmaniasis and dengue fever). This is what led me to specialise myself in tropical infectious diseases, and to pursue a career in the biomedical sector. I studied biomedical sciences at the University of Antwerp (UA) from 2014-2019. After graduating, I got a job at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM). Although I always enjoyed doing wet lab work, I wanted to learn computer methods to process molecular biological data to become more independent as a researcher. I looked for a training programme in Bioinformatics and came across the Advanced Bachelor in Bioinformatics (BIT) at Howest. 

Why did you choose to study Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics at Howest?

Because I had already started working, I was looking for a bioinformatic programme that I could combine with my job. Besides, I had heard positive things about BIT from my colleagues who had finished it already. BIT is a programme that can be followed as day courses for one year. However, there is also the possibility of a two-year @home programme which is ideal to combine with working and/or family. I was especially interested in the two-year programme, but those start every other year and not in the year I wanted to start. For that reason, I decided to complete the programme in one year (2019-2020). After BIT, I came across Artificial Intelligence @Home also at Howest. This is a “microdegree” consisting of 2 courses consisting of 6 study points each: Machine Learning and Deep Learning. I enrolled in that programme for this academic year (2020-2021) because I wanted to learn how to use machine learning methods. 

What was your favourite subject (BIT)? And of the lecturers at Howest inspired you the most?

This is really a hard question. What makes BIT such a unique and great programme is the combination of subjects. All are different, but very relevant for the work field. I think for me personally, it was the most fun to learning how to process/analyse NGS data, in “High throughput analysis”. This was linked to a project that I really enjoyed doing. These subjects were given by 3 lecturers and all of them did a great job!

If asked to describe Howest in 3 words, what would it be?

Innovative, flexible, encouraging

What is your current position and what do you do?

PhD student (at the Institute of Tropical Medicine and University of Antwerp) working on T-cell receptor sequencing based viral diagnostics. 

What do you like most about your job?

What I like most about it is how multidisciplinary my topic is. It is a combination of clinical, biomedical and bioinformatic sciences. This way I get to combine the knowledge I got from both the UA and Howest. 

How do you apply the knowledge and skills you gained during your studies in your job?

During my education in Biomedical Sciences (UA), I gained many lab skills that I still use at work on a daily basis to perform the necessary experiments. The Bioinformatics education (Howest) helped me learn how to use programming languages and bioinformatic tools that I need to process my results (e.g. NGS data). 

How has your education at Howest influenced or helped you in your life and career?

Howest helped me gain and broaden my bioinformatic skills. It inspired me and showed me that besides wet lab work, the dry lab part can also be fun. I think that without this training I would probably be working somewhere else and I would be more focused on wet lab work. I am definitely content with my decision and I would advise it to anyone who has completed either their bachelor’s or master’s and wants to learn how to practically use bioinformatic methods. 

What career advice would you give students pursuing your field of study?

Seek internship opportunities and keep your skills up to date. Don’t get discouraged by obstacles and rejections along the way, thy are all part of our journey. Pursue your passion, be positive and positive things will happen!
 

Perry Moerland

"The students were able to successfully complete these challenging projects and to go beyond what they learned in school."

Perry Moerland

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

Over the past few years our group (Bioinformatics Laboratory, Amsterdam University Medical Centers) has hosted several students of the Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics. Our experiences have been very positive. The students were highly motivated and due to their background able to quickly familiarize themselves with the topic of their internship. Examples of projects they worked on are the development of Galaxy pipelines for the analysis of omics data and a R/Shiny app for the Interactive visualization of DNA methylation and gene expression data. The students were able to successfully complete these challenging projects and to go beyond what they learned in school. 

Next to their professional skills, they also blended in very well in our group. Not to mention that the various Belgian specialties (chocolates, beers) they brought with them to Amsterdam were also well appreciated. ;-)
 

Wist je dat ...

Perry Moerland (left) with Howest alumna Laurence Dedrie (right) during a group outing at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam

Steve Baeyen

"I can work much faster and be more focused"

Steve Baeyen

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

In the molecular lab where I work as a lab manager, we started working on Next-Generation Sequencing techniques around 2008. I wanted to deepen and improve my know-how in this area, especially as this domain is developing rapidly. Hence, I made this advanced bachelor my choice, which moreover allowed me to combine studying with work and a family of four children. Initially, some subjects did not seem immediately usable to me for my job, but in the end, I was able to practically apply all the knowledge I had acquired in my work. I also got to know a lot about updates, insights and new methods for areas I already had a lot of experience with. This means that, today, I can work much faster and be more focused.

Now working at ...

ILVO

Kris Laukens

"So far, we have only had positive experiences with Howest’s trainees."

Kris Laukens

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

This advanced bachelor’s degree fulfils a very clear need: it provides the field with multifunctional bioinformatics technicians. Specialists who bridge the gap between the laboratory world and the world of IT. Trainees are deployed for a variety of tasks: data configuration, setting up and maintaining bioinformatics workflows, performing genomic data analysis, and so on. So far, we have only had positive experiences with Howest’s trainees. What do they learn here? They have learned to work together within a multidisciplinary team and experience firsthand how you can contribute to a larger project in such a team.

Now working at ...

Antwerp University

Maxine Vanvuchelen

"After completing this course, I intend to look for new professional opportunities, based on the new know-how that I have acquired, combined with the necessary self-study."

Maxine Vanvuchelen

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

I have been working as a laboratory technician for three years now and thought it was time to deepen and expand my knowledge - especially in the field of computer science, a field that has been of interest to me for a long time. That’s why I thought this advanced bachelor’s programme was the right one, as it links computer science directly to the biomedical world. In this way, experiments can now also be designed on the computer, instead of just standard in a lab. After completing this course, I intend to look for new professional opportunities, based on the new know-how that I have acquired, combined with the necessary self-study.