Thea Dennis ’15 from Belgium

I chose Fulbright because I wanted to have a meaningful gap year before jumping onto a career path.


When I got to my location, I first took a nap in my beautiful apartment that I found on AirBnB and then went walking around in my new city.


photo 1


I brought a lot of clothes that I didn’t want to wear once I checked out what the locals fashion choices were! But now I enjoy wearing a flannel shirt once in a while and having people ask where I got it.


In preparation for my trip I learned a bit of Dutch and tried to research what the city of Leuven would be like…but I’m glad I didn’t do too much research. I’ve enjoyed discovering for myself the quirks and customs of Leuven.


photo 2


Something I have never done before is cook for myself for a whole year. It’s going….ok…. I’ll be a lot better at it in June!


I was surprised by how much people were interested in hearing about where I was from in America.


I love sitting at a coffee shop or having a Belgian beer with friends and sitting and talking for hours without anyone bothering you about the bill or rushing you.


When I am doing my research I need to constantly remind myself that learning comes first and results come second.


At the end of each day I enjoy Leuven’s fabulous night life (a chance to meet new people), or I chat and watch TV with my Italian roommate.


When I tell others about my Fulbright experience so far I could not be more grateful that I ended up in Leuven working with the people in my lab. This city is the perfect mix of fun and academics.




I want to tell a Smithie thinking about applying for a Fulbright to absolutely do it. It is not as daunting as people make it sound and we are so lucky to have a Fulbright office to help us every step of the way! Really, just do it.