My second winter without snow or master in Belgium

I want to share my experience of entering the institute and moving to Europe. We had to face a lack of relevant information on documents and prices, and all the information currently available on the Internet is significantly different from the reality that was expected of me.

This story is not about geniuses who, in the intervals between scientific conferences and parachuting, are developing an application to be realized in Silicon Valley. This story is about a girl who has not encountered real difficulties in her life and for whom everything went its own leisurely way. The main task of my environment was “University”, which means “Exit Successfully Married”. At some point, I wanted to influence my life and this is where my story begins.

In September 2016, my husband and I decided to move to live in Belgium. There were two options for a possible relocation: an invitation to work from a foreign company or admission to college.

Since my education was no economic, and in the workbook there were only two years of work in Sberbank, I understood that in order to increase the chances of being held in Europe, it is better to finish the magistracy and, having already increased the level of education, continue to build a career.

In Russia

Institute selection and document collection

It so happened that the choice fell on the University of Ghent , which ranks 92nd according to the Global Universities Ranking 2017 . The structure of the university consists of 11 faculties and 117 departments with more than 230 courses of study.

The average European institution has roughly similar filing requirements. However, if there is interest in educational institutions that have a high rating, then you need to be prepared, in addition to a serious amount, to convince the admissions committee with your achievements and high points from your previous education. At the same time, the presence of a certificate of language proficiency is a mandatory requirement of any European institution.

When I started preparing for the TOEFLThe understanding came that the knowledge of the English language completely disappeared during the school years, and from the old 85 points for the Unified State Exam a pleasant memory remained. Two teachers came to my aid, two young girls with whom an ambitious language training was launched. Every day after work, I plunged into the world of strange texts, essays and bitter tears of understanding my low start.

The habrovcanin naprienko describes in detail what else language tests are and how he was preparing for the TOEFL with all possible references and tips. I recommend to be curious. I am sharing my list of what was required to submit to the Ghent Institute.

The package of documents for the master program:

  • Copy of passport
  • Legalized copy of the main diploma ($ 5.00)
  • Two recommendations from the institute or from the place of work (1.000₽ for cakes)
  • Official translation of the above documents into English (£ 5,000)
  • Motivation letter (essay, why in this institute and on this program)
  • CV (Education and work experience, participation in conferences and skills)
  • TOEFL certificate ($ 260 * 2 + $ 60 + € 100 roaming negotiations)
  • Paid receipt for filing documents to the Institute (120 €)

Total: 58.500в‚ вместо (instead of 33.440в‚)

The economic building hid behind the flowering trees.

The Pitfalls

Institute (former FINEC) did not recognize its own diploma, and later there was the problem of legalization. They checked for authenticity, called several teachers and asked if she “had learned this.” Fortunately for the defense of the thesis, I brought a huge red-headed bouquet of flowers, to which the teacher had allergies, so they remembered me.

The recommendations from the institute did not come up at the end due to the fact that they were from KEN, and not from professors, and the press of FINEC in Belgium was also in doubt.

Passing TOEFL for the first time, I scored 71 points instead of passing 72. For two months, the idea of ​​moving was closed, but by inertia I continued to study English more for myself. In the spring of 2017, the desire to prove that I could pass the TOEFL and 60% barrier with great difficulty was overcome ($ 260 * 2).

After the new year, the price for the master's program soared from € 900 to € 5,500 for Russian students and from € 800 to € 950 for Europeans and third world countries. It turned out that after receiving the invitation to study. Apparently this was a local addition to the sanctions.

Already in Belgium, it turned out that the original TOEFL certificate was not received by the institute and had to contact the central American office and order a certificate ($ 60 certificate + € 100 payment of roaming negotiations).

In general, you can easily notice, good luck accompanied in all my undertakings. Even seemingly linear processes of collecting and submitting documents made many adventures in my life.


Getting a student visa and relocation

In March 2017, an invitation to study came from the institute, with which I went to the Belgium visa application center. At you can find the necessary information.

Visa expenses were:

  • 15.000₽ Apostille for diplomas and certificate of no criminal record
  • 13.860₽ Consular fee
  • 3.000₽ Medical certificate
  • 1.500₽ Confirmation of solvency (Annexe 32)
  • 700₽ Translation of a certificate of no criminal record
  • 500₽ Photo
  • 500₽ Copy of all documents in triplicate on color print
  • 200 € Administrative Fee

Total: 47.460₽


Prepares for submission of documents better at least six months before the move. The apostille on the certificate of non-conviction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia is affixed within 5 working days, and on the FSN diploma in education and science for 45 workers. At some point this fact crossed out the plan for the move. But the miracle of a million calls to the institute, in which at that time I was already remembered, accelerated the process.

Also, to receive a student visa at the consulate, I was assigned an additional test in English (10 pages for 2 hours). Due to the fact that the TOEFL score was low.

Visa center staff lost several documents, namely, honey. a certificate and a consulate certified solvency (Annexe 32). Since I had proof that the documents were filed (photo on the phone), and since I immediately wrote a complaint to the consulate, then the documents were “magically” found. So, the waiting for a visa decision has increased from two to eight weeks.

In September 2017, the long-awaited visa was obtained and was due to move. The amount of the hostel is much higher, as booked a week before departure after obtaining a visa.

From point A to point B:

  • 5.000₽ Insurance for half a year
  • 15.000₽ One way ticket
  • 30.000₽ Hostel 3 * for four days

Total: 50.000₽

imageCreative, hung handkerchiefs, thank you for not modern art

In belgium

Adventures began in a new way. Before the start of the school year, you need to register and get all the accompanying documents for education (student card and receipt for the program).

I was going to pay for the program in cash. However, cash payment is not accepted in the modern world. The European banks do not allow crediting money to the Sberbank card. And in any case, the bank is ready to transfer only from a European card. It is impossible to order a card in a Belgian bank while there is no residence permit (permit). Also without a residence permit it is impossible to register in the library and buy a sim-card, so I had to face temporary difficulties.

The institute was advised to find a Belgian who would be ready to take cash and transfer the amount to the specified account, or make a transfer from Russia. But the cash was with them and the offer to look for a decent but not vigilant Belgian in the crowd was extremely strange. In my case, the transfer to the institute was carried out by the company in which the husband works.

If there is an opportunity to come, double-check documents and make payment a month before the start of the school year, then it is worth doing. In the last days of registration, the institute is crowded and administrative issues require more time.

In addition to payment, I was faced with the problem that the institute did not accept the TOEFL certificate. I had to contact the main American office and send the original again. The question had to be solved in two days, otherwise automatic exclusion followed.

Ultimately, the submission of documents, visa, relocation (155.960 AUD), the annual master program (380,000 AUD) cost 535,960 AUD instead of 197,000 AUD.

Student residence permit

In Belgium, it is not customary to fuss and the institute was told to submit documents for the permit as soon as possible, but it was not limited in time, because the passport had a visa for six months. In October 2017, a week after the electronic filing of documents at the immigration center (Woodrow Wilsonplein 1), a meeting was scheduled. There I was photographed, fingerprinted, and helped to fill out a questionnaire, which can be filled in English, French, German or Dutch. From expenses only 10 € for the card itself.
A residence permit was issued after four months, explaining a large amount of work and the influx of immigrants.

  • Certificate of admission to the Institute
  • International Insurance Policy
  • Passport photocopy
  • Proof of solvency or education grant
  • Actual address of residence

imageAnd around the corner is the red light district, everything is officially


The program is designed for one year and consists of 60 credits and a master's thesis. Many students extended their studies because they didn’t know what they wanted to do next and thus delayed the decisive moment. Despite the fact that the magistracy is officially announced in English, some cases were in Dutch.

The bulk of the students are Belgians, 20% Italians in the erasmus program, one student from Asia and I, from Russia. Since before that I had no experience learning in English, it was very difficult to delve into it. The first two weeks, all the information passed by me. Despite the fact that the lectures and seminars are accompanied by slides, I decided to additionally record on the recorder, so that I could listen to it at home.

In some subjects, teachers were asked to buy textbooks on a mandatory basis or program-group games. In total, about 100 € was spent. The visit is free and the schedule is designed in such a way that it can easily be combined with student work (see below).

imageHall of the Institute

The program is designed in such a way that within six weeks two subjects are studied, cases are solved, group work is done, and an exam is taken on the seventh week. After the new two subjects begin. In order to successfully pass the subject is enough to score 10 out of 20 points. According to my feelings, for the first exams I should have scored 21 points, because I studied constantly and only interrupted on crying. But alas, I was the only one from the stream who flew out to the additional session.

Another point that clouded my student days, besides the fact that I could barely understand English, was that during the group work the Belgians spoke Dutch and it was impossible to interact with the group .

Until the end of October, it was necessary to secure the theme of master's work and supervisor. Apparently, I did not have time to listen to a lecture on the rules of interaction with the curator, and therefore came into direct contact with the professor. According to the rules, the student has the opportunity to meet twice and send the work for a test three times, nothing more. But, I learned about it after my defense.

In general, now I can say that the master's program is not difficult, but here in Europe, students love to stretch their studies and leisurely pass the subjects. To increase your understanding of what is happening, read the literature on the profile you are interested in in English, solve additional cases or tasks, and, in your free time, watch the NETFLIX films in the original to raise your understanding of the spoken language.

Student work

To begin with, “Non-European” must apply for a student work permit. The procedure is quite simple. Come to the immigration center, ask them to fill out an application for a working permit and with it you are going to the administration . Two weeks later, the documents on hand.

In the second half of the year for the practice of spoken English, I got a job at a boutique hotel in the heart of Ghent. The people were few and mostly decent. My task was to meet the guest, explain the breakfast system and bring coffee. Payment by the hour (12 €) + for access to the card was charged 6 € for lunch and 12 € extra charge for work on Sunday. Thus, on average, I got 100 € clean per exit. Due to the lack of visitors efficiencyit was zero, and in order not to fall asleep somehow, I went and wiped the dust from old books.

imageThe hotel in which I worked is located in a building with turrets. Sometimes in the morning I was greeted by such dawns.


In the heart of the city is the newest building of the library . For registration, you must have a residence permit or a Belgian citizen passport. Books, magazines, vinyl records, CDs, lectures for adults and children are all in free use and free of charge, and the most pleasant thing is that in a spacious and bright modern building.


Also in the library there is an electronic piano, which can be freely played every day, no more than one hour. Since the piano rental in the music academy is scheduled six months in advance, I became addicted to playing in the library in my free time, although sometimes I have to wait.



For students under 25 there are two options for living in Belgium: a hostel (from € 300 to € 500 depending on accommodation and distance from the center) and apartments with a minimum rental period of one year (€ 800 for a studio of 20-25 meters and shared toilet on the floor). The first option is the most profitable, and therefore, after inviting students to study, students request a place in a dormitory, thus, two months before training, the dormitory is disassembled. The second option is also filled by September.

At the beginning of the school year, the student must provide information about the place of residence. Ordinary tenants do not have the right to rent housing to students, which is provided for families or working people. Thus, those students who did not find accommodation during the second week are automatically excluded from the institute. Since I moved with my husband, who has a permanent salary in Belgium, we were allowed by law to rent an apartment.

imageMost make their loft style accommodation.

The situation in the real estate market is such that you need to look for a good place in advance of the move, since the city is small and decent options are quickly dismantled. Also, due to the large number of students in Ghent, the cost of rental housing is much higher than in other cities in Belgium. You can search on the site .

Rent, as a rule, does not imply any utilities other than garbage collection, for which you pay by buying special packages (about this below). To understand how much it will cost you to stay, you can add 250 € -300 € for the amount specified in the ad.


We were lucky and managed to rent a two-room apartment (80m2) with a kitchen and a storeroom in the historic center of the city for a low amount according to Belgian standards. Also, the apartment has a built-in kitchen with an oven and a mini-fridge, the rest of the equipment was bought on their own. The first month was the most fun because we had a mattress, a kettle and the Internet. Gradually buy all the rest. We looked at the furniture on Facebook, went to a couple of local furniture stores and came to the conclusion that our version of IKEA.

Apartment rent:

  • 602 € for an apartment of 80m2 (price on the site)
  • 100 € for gas and electricity
  • 60 € for house maintenance
  • 50 € for internet
  • 30 € for water
  • 10 € for trash

Once a year:

  • 150 € heating service
  • 150 € apartment insurance

Total: 877 €

+ 2.000 € pledge
+ 3.000 € furniture
+ 3.000 € appliances


Realtors can easily stay in touch and not come to a meeting and inspect the apartment, as they are sick or the apartment is rented, but they are too lazy to update the information on the site.

All housing is always rented without furniture and electronics. Sometimes the previous residents unscrew the sockets and switches with them to the new apartment. Therefore it is necessary to count on another 2.000 € minimum. The price in IKEA is indicated without tax, so add on top of the purchase about 15% + 150 € delivery up to 500 kg.

The contract for renting housing is of three options: 3/6/9 years. Upon termination of the contract in the first three years it is necessary to pay a fine. If you move in the first year, then pay a fine of three months; in the second year, two months; in the third year, one month.

The deposit on the apartment is from 2 to 3 months of rent, which will be used to pay off the last months. Plus, you must provide a letter from the employer, who acts as a guarantor of wealth tenant.

Garbage sorting

Garbage removal is carried out on a schedule once a week.

For a long time I got used to sorting garbage. On Monday until nine in the morning, on our street, residents expose yellow (8 € per roll), blue (3 € per roll) and green (do not use) garbage bags. In yellow bags you put everything that is not recycled (determined by the icon on the plastic packaging). If there is a garbage processing icon, then send it to the blue package. In the green bag all vegetable waste. Once a month, take out cardboard and glass. Here you simply expose the bound cardboard and bottles in the boxes.

imageRecyclable Plastic Sign

It sounds pretty eco-friendly and thoughtful. The only thing for the time while you save the trash, the house is filled with wondrous smells and midges in the summer. Also, a trash company likes to make strikes. As for example, it was this summer when the staff did not come for a portion of fresh garbage, but went to play football.

Like this, sachets are waiting for their disposal.


Belgium officially speaks three languages: Dutch, French and German. And then everything depends on the region. Ghent is located in the Flanders part of the country and, therefore, on the street one can most often hear the Dutch, but with its indistinguishable dialect, which more closely resembles an isolated language. Everyone speaks English without exception.
The bourgeoisie speaks French outside the home and in their native Dutch at the family table
If you can immediately begin to learn a language, then it is worth doing. Dutch is not common, and therefore every Belgian will feel respect for you, having learned that you are paying special attention to this.


Belgium in general and Gent in particular are very safe. Despite the intimidating news of a crowded refugee Europe, the police manage to keep everything under control. Perhaps we are talking about certain areas in which we have not ever fall.

The most common crimes are thefts of bicycles, to which no one pays special attention, since every self-respecting Belgian was stolen a bicycle. It makes no sense to go to the police and write statements, because within an hour the bike will already be taken out of this compact country. We were lucky twice and in the first two weeks the bikes were stolen. After bought folding and store in the apartment.

Food prices

Meat and fish prices are higher, but the quality is different. Cheese, chocolate is cheaper and at first it seems to me, we just fed on it. The price for greens and fruits does not change during the year. If you walk in LiDL , ALDI , then you can keep up to € 200 per person. There is also a more prestigious French Carrefour and the Dutch Albert Heijn , but the prices are one and a half times higher. The policy of premium grocery stores is such that they cooperate with other manufacturers and you will not have the opportunity to compare prices for the same product. Different shops - different brands, quality everywhere above average. In general, I agree with the sources on the cost of food available on the Internet.

Institutional canteens

Like all universities in Europe, Ghent has a large number of dining facilities (9 pieces). The mode of operation varies, but at any time of the day you can find an open one. The cost is two times cheaper than in local cafes and bistros.

For example, the soup costs € 0.6, and a mini baguette with cheese and herbs costs € 2.5.


Dinner for two without drinks costs 50 €. Traditional food is hearty and served in large portions. Belgians are proud of their cuisine, they are happy to cook at home, cook at home, go to cafes and bars.


It seemed that everything except Belgian waffles was served with mayonnaise.
In Belgium, much attention is paid to the quality of products, and in particular, where and by whom it was manufactured. If there is a desire to eat organic products and not harm the environment, then this country is for you. The only such products are one and a half to two times more expensive than usual and for me this is perhaps the only difference.

Quick lunch at IKEA. Tea is free and hot dog 0.7 €

Online shopping and delivery

In Russia, we are used to choosing a product, delivery time, and then payment follows. In some cases, you will receive an SMS with a code that must be entered to confirm the purchase. Since debit cards of Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank do not support online shopping in Belgium, we had to familiarize ourselves with local rituals.

I will tell you a little about bank cards. The debit card is issued only Maestro and is not accepted for the territory of the EU. Using a credit card is always more profitable to buy online, for example, on the same site the cost of a plane ticket will be cheaper by 15 € when paying with a credit card. At the same time, some large companies, like Amazon, work exclusively with credit cards. It would seem, issued a credit and you live in peace, but not everything is so simple. All available tariffs are arranged in such a way that the client has only a certain time window for paying off the debt and the debt cannot be immediately closed. In general, we are not accustomed to such fads.

There is a so-called mini calculator that you need to have on hand every time you make a purchase over the Internet. After entering all the card data, a code appears on the computer screen that needs to activate the mini calculator. After you take a bank card and is inserted into this “machine of the future” and enter the code that you have displayed on the screen, the computer. If the site is more advanced, a QR code will appear on the screen. You scan it and voila, payment is over.

The apparatus of the future

Further shipping. Belgians hate mail, and for good reason. If you are making an online order, then you need to take a day off on your chosen day, because they can bring at any time of the day. There are cases when the goods may not be brought and send SMS in the evening about canceling the purchase or postponing the day of delivery.
For one and a half years of residence, given that we had to completely furnish the apartment, nothing was delivered without problems and the first time.
Basically this is a cancellation order. Next, can deliver on time, but not your order. Your order can be delivered on time, but not to you. Well, the latter can simply leave a small box on the street at the door of the house, for example, with an iPhone, as it was in my case, and not even ring the doorbell and sign the gadget for receiving the goods on their own. Omit all comments, understand and forgive.

Transport and roads

Since the country is small, they often live in one city and work in another. Therefore, the majority of the working population per family has one car. Those who live and work in the same city move on bicycles and public transport. Belgium if not the first, then exactly the second country after the Netherlands by their number. They go all, from little to great, regardless of the vagaries of the weather.

In such a nice wagon can fit up to four children, well, or one big

Prices for one-way travel on the bus or tram about 3 €. The same ticket through the electronic application can be purchased for 1.5 €. There are various subscriptions that are tied to the selected transport, region of the country, your status (student / pensioner) and here you can live. However, for example, from the airport to get to Ghent will cost € 16 and no subscription is valid.

Do not ask how to hook on the top shelf, a system for the dexterous and advanced

. Belgium has a well-developed rail link . By high-speed train from Brussels, you can drive two hours to London, Paris or Amsterdam. Impressive, isn't it? But this is again for rich people who are ready to pay from € 100 in one direction for a second class ticket.

We are content with buses and they have not yet let us down. On the Flixbus website, you can select the city from which you plan to start the journey and on the map you will be shown possible routes. The buses have Wi-Fi, charging and toilet. For 1 € you can buy hot drinks and water from the driver. For example, for tickets to Amsterdam, we paid 20 € in one direction. We arrived in 3.5 hours, snoring in wide seats.

It's worth it?

Relocation is nervous and expensive. While writing to me again thrown into the heat of the memories, but it is definitely worth it. Otherwise, you start to look at the difficulties, kilometer queues and seemingly insuperable circumstances. Belgium is an extremely bureaucratic country and the Belgians themselves suffer from this, but if you want to test yourself, enrich yourself with life experience, learn new languages ​​and get a “European education”, then go ahead!

So my second winter comes to an end without snow, which unfortunately fell this week. I will be glad to answer questions and comments, and since she is still in the process of adaptation, your advice will also please you.

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